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Track & Field
No. 12 Gators Slip Past No. 42 UNCW

Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications  
Release: 01/27/2013
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Junior Rafael Aita upset No. 26th-ranked Florent Diep of the University of Florida in Sunday's championship match of the ITA Kick-Off In Gainesville
View larger Courtesy: Joe Browning

Junior Rafael Aita upset No. 26th-ranked Florent Diep of the University of Florida in Sunday's championship match of the ITA Kick-Off In Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Florida - No. 12 Florida rallied from an early deficit to down UNCW, 4-2, in the championship match of the 2013 ITA Men's Tennis Kick-Off Weekend regional staged Sunday at UF's Linder Stadium at the Ring Tennis Complex.

The Gators of the Southeastern Conference remained unbeaten at 4-0 with the victory and earned a berth into the 2013 ITA Division I National Men's and Women's Team Indoor Championships hosted by the University of Washington. The Seahawks lost for the first time this spring and stand 3-1 after splitting two matches in their third trip to the event.

"It was great experience to have an opportunity to play a top-15 team and be in a position to win," said Mait DuBois, UNCW's sixth-year head coach. "It was the first time we've played an opponent of that stature and it didn't really affect us. We played our best tennis and were in a position to win, but came up just short.

"You have to give credit to Florida. They played the right points at the right time and showed why they are a good team. This should give us the confidence, though, to know that we can beat a team like that."

In Sunday's match, the Seahawks got off to a good start by winning the doubles point with victories at the No. 3 and No. 1 positions. The No. 3 team of Michael Reilly and Kaue Pereira knocked off UF's Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek, 8-4, in just 44 minutes before UNCW's 10th-ranked tandem of Kosta Blank and Chris Cooprider clinched the point by trimmed No. 45 Mike Alford and Florent Diep, 8-5.

The Gators evened the match with a quick victory at No. 6 singles when Billy Federhofer cruised past Michael Reilly, 6-1, 6-2, but Aita, ranked 37th in singles, put the Seahawks back on top, 2-1, with a 6-4, 6-3, upset of the 26th-ranked Diep at the top of the lineup.

But UF brought the match even again at No. 5 singles when No. 118 Gordon Watson beat Blank, 6-2, 6-4.  The Gators then claimed the match with victories at No. 2 and No. 4 singles.

Van Oberbeek outlasted Cooprider, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, at No. 2 and Alford came from behind to beat Pereira, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, to clinch the match at the No. 4 slot.

"I was very proud of the way Rafael bounced back," added DuBois. "He had a tough loss on Saturday and his goal was to respond today in the right way. He came back, played a good match and showed why he's one of the top players in the country."

The Seahawks begin the heart of their spring schedule on Feb. 9 when they open a three-match homestand against USC-Upstate at Noon.

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