TENNIS: Gators Snap Baylor's Home-Win Streak

WACO, Texas --- The second-ranked University of Florida men's tennis team passed a big early-season test as the Gators broke No. 7 Baylor's 61-match home win streak to a close Sunday afternoon in Waco, 4-3. Florida became the first opponent ever to defeat the Bears in a regular-season match at the Baylor Tennis Center, which opened in April of 2000. With the victory, UF improved to 3-0 on the season, while Baylor slipped to 1-1.

"This is a good day for the Gators," said Coach Andy Jackson. "You have to give Baylor a lot of credit for their streak and making Waco one of the toughest places to play in the country. I'm proud of our team, but it remains just as tough for us as we enter next month at Miami."

Baylor, which won the 2004 national title and ousted UF (4-1 in the semifinals) on its way to a runner-up finish a season ago, suffered its first regular-season home loss since falling to Texas on April 28, 2001. The win was also the highest-ranked foe a UF squad has ever defeated on the road under Jackson who is in his fifth season in Gainesville.

The outcome of the match came down to the doubles point and the last match. UF's Ryan Sweeting and Vladimir Obradovic held off Baylor's Michal Kotka and Will Ward, 8-6, on court one to clinch for Florida. Nestor Briceno and Stefan Tell got the Gators in position to win the match when they took out Lars Poerschke and Vladimir Portnov at the bottom of the order, 8-4. The issue was forced when Baylor's 31st-ranked Jon Recekwey and two-time doubles All-American Matija Zgaga defeated Janne Holmia and Greg Ouellette, 8-4.

"The doubles point proved to be essential today, especially on one," said Jackson. "We can continue to improve, but I was happy with the play of Nestor (Briceno), who handled the pressure of two matches since he was our only player to win in both singles and doubles."

Tell (No. 70) stretched the lead to 2-0 in UF's favor with a straight set 6-4, 6-2 showing on court six over Matt Brown. Kokta (No. 31) got Baylor on the board with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Obradovic (No. 90) on court two.

Florida got to within one of winning the match when Ouellette posted a straight set 6-4, 6-2 win over Poershke, who entered ranked as the No. 1 player in the nation. A season ago, Ouellette was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, while Poerschke was tabbed the Big 12 Rookie of the Year. Ouellette and Poerschke were also honored by the ITA in 2005 as the Southeast and Central Region Newcomers of the Year, respectively.

"Last season Greg (Ouellette) was defeated by Poerschke (6-1, 6-3 in the regular season meeting in Gainesville) and this season Greg got the win," Jackson said. "This just shows Greg Ouellette continues to get better and is improving. It also shows that we are settling into our roles on the team. Greg can play anywhere for us and the win today was a big, big help."

After Holmia fell to Portnov (No. T94) on court five (4-6, 6-2, 6-1), Briceno provided the winner one court higher in the order with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Will Ward.

Florida's next match will be on the road, Friday, February 3, when the Gators face No. 39 Miami.

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