May 12, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida, the 12th-ranked team in the country that features four nationally ranked singles players, posted a 4-0 victory over the Navy men's tennis team, a squad with four freshmen in its lineup, Saturday afternoon in a first-round NCAA Tournament match that was contested in Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.
The Gators, who improved their record 15-9 on the season, advance to Sunday's second round where they will face No. 24 Harvard. Meanwhile, the Patriot League champion-Mids saw their season come to a close with an 18-9 record.
"Florida was just too tough for us today," said Navy head coach John Officer, who guided Navy to its fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament in six seasons and its sixth trip since 1999. "Their rank is a little deceiving. I think they are a top-five team in the country. They had Georgia on the ropes twice and had they won those matches I think they would have been ranked in the top five. Florida came out today as sharp as a tack and was too powerful for us. We just don't see that level of play on a daily basis."
Florida quickly built cushions in the early part of each of the three doubles matches. Its No. 1 team of Tripper Carleton and Nassim Slilam took a 5-0 lead over Calvin Mark (Fr., Union City, Calif.) and Peter McDonald (Fr., Chapel Hill, N.C.), Florida's No. 2 team of Spencer Newman and Bob van Overbeek jumped out to a 4-1 advantage over Tyler Burnett (Fr., Fayettevile, Ga.) and Marcus Rebersak (Sr., Pittsburgh, Pa.), and the Gator tandem of Michael Alford and Florent Diep won the first four games of its match against Blake Daniel (Fr., Overland Park, Kan.) and Nicholas Gutsche (Jr., Sarasota, Fla.) at the No. 3 flight.
The Carleton - Slilam team would go on to win its match by the score of 8-4, with Newman and van Overbeek, the No. 64 team in the country, soon winning by the count of 8-3. Alford and Diep held a 6-3 advantage over Daniel and Gutsche when play was stopped.
Florida also put together strong starts in almost all of the singles matches and went on to win the first set at each of the six flights. Slilam, who is ranked 53rd nationally, made the score 2-0 when he posted a 6-0, 6-0 win over McDonald at No. 3 singles. The score became 3-0 when van Overbeek, who is ranked 42nd, won a 6-1, 6-0 decision over Rebersak at No. 1 singles. Diep then clinched the match for the Gators when he defeated Gutsche, 6-0, 6-0, at the No. 5 flight.
The remaining matches saw Carleton, who is ranked 48th, leading Mark, 6-3, 4-1, at No. 2 singles, Newman, the 66th-ranked player in the country, holding a 6-2, 3-2 lead over Daniel at No. 4 singles, and Alford leading Burnett, 6-0, 3-2, at No. 6 singles.
"There is no question our slow starts hurt us today," said Officer, "but we kept competing and fought back as hard as we could. I think having such a young team factored into things. We have been pretty competitive in most of the matches on our past trips to the NCAA Tournament, but we had more experienced teams on the courts in those years. We were still fairly competitive in six of the nine matches today, and that is with our having four freshmen in the lineup. But the experienced we gained today will really pay off for us down the road."
The lone Navy starter who closed out his career today was Rebersak. The first-team all-league performer was playing in the third NCAA Tournament in his career. He played all but five of his 92 career matches at either Nos. 1 or 2 singles for the Mids.
"We are going to miss Marcus," said Officer. "We were very pleased with the growth and development he showed as a leader this year. I think he was the second-best player in the league this season, with his only singles loss coming to the guy who was selected as the Patriot League Player of the Year (Army's Asika Isoh). We are going to miss him, for sure."
May 12, 2012 at Gainesville, Fla.
(Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex)
#12 Florida (15-9) def. Navy, 4-0
Doubles -- Florida wins the doubles point (1-2)
1. Carleton, Tripper / Slilam, Nassim (FLA) def. Mark, Calvin / McDonald, Peter (NAVY) 8-4
2. #64 Newman, Spencer / van Overbeek, Bob (FLA) def. Burnett, Tyler / Rebersak, Marcus (NAVY) 8-3
3. Alford, Michael / Diep, Florent (FLA) vs. Daniel, Blake / Gutsche, Nicholas (NAVY) 6-3, unfinished
1. #42 van Overbeek, Bob (FLA) def. Rebersak, Marcus (NAVY) 6-1, 6-0
2. #48 Carleton, Tripper (FLA) vs. Mark, Calvin (NAVY) 6-3, 4-1, unfinished
3. #53 Slilam, Nassim (FLA) def. McDonald, Peter (NAVY) 6-0, 6-0
4. #66 Newman, Spencer (FLA) vs. Daniel, Blake (NAVY) 6-2, 3-2, unfinished
5. Diep, Florent (FLA) def. Gutsche, Nicholas (NAVY) 6-0, 6-0
6. Alford, Michael (FLA) vs. Burnett, Tyler (NAVY) 6-0, 3-2, unfinished