Twice Bitten: Cats Fall to Gators, 4-1; UK Awaits NCAA Tournament Bid
April 19, 2003
OXFORD, Miss. - Fourth-seeded Kentucky fell behind top-seeded Florida 3-0, managed a late rally, but fell in a hotly-contested battle by a 4-1 count. The Wildcats will now await word from the NCAA for a post-season bid, while the Gators advance to Sunday's championship match. In doubles play, the Gators took matches at numbers one and two, and in doing so, never trailed in any of the three doubles matches. At number two, UF's Olivier Levant and Eleazar Magallan defeated UK's Rahim Esmail and Jesse Witten, 8-3. The Gators clinched the point at number one as Hamid Mirzadeh and Chris McDonald scored an 8-5 victory over Karim Benmansour and Matt Emery.
In singles, Florida notched its second point with as Levant scored a 6-0, 6-0 victory at No. 4 over Emery. Matt Behrmann added to the lead with a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 5 over Rahim Esmail. In a battle between two of the best players collegiate tennis has to offer, UK's Witten defeated UF's Mirzadeh, 6-4, 6-4. Kentucky was on the verge of tallying victories at numbers two and three, but Florida's Magallan got past Kentucky's Alex Hume after an incredible second-set tiebreaker. Magallan's 6-3, 7-6 (7) victory at No. 6 sent the Gators to the SEC Championship, where they will play the winner of Saturday's Ole Miss-Vanderbilt match. The loss marks the second time in as many seasons the Wildcats have fallen in the SEC semifinals. The Cats will return to action May 10 when they participate in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.