Ashley Marshall | October 31, 2016

It may be late October in South Carolina, but it’s feeding season in Florida.


For the third time in four years, the Florida Gators took a bite out of the competition to win the 2016 Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Florida defeated reigning TOC national champions Auburn, 25-21, in Sunday’s final at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center on Hilton Head Island.


“We do like coming here, and it’s one of our favorite tournaments,” said Florida captain Max Koller, who fielded an experienced team with many third- and fourth-year Fall Invitational veterans. “It plays a factor having the experience of playing here.”


The victory follows titles in 2013 and 2014 and assures the collegiate team from the sunshine state a spot at the National Championships in Orlando, Fla., in April.


“It was a great run and we had an amazing time,” Auburn captain Mitch Vegas said. “People kept talking about the pressure. But we were relaxed and just wanted to have fun. And we did.”


Florida was on top throughout the final, leading 12-7 after the doubles matches and 20-15 after the two singles matches. Auburn won its first match of the final in the mixed doubles to send the championship to overtime, but Florida emerged on top to seal the victory.


Florida’s team consisted of Alex Peckham (Tampa, Fla.), Peter Slaton (Gainesville, Fla.), Spencer Ong (Tampa, Fla.), Koller (Ormond Beach, Fla.), Anna Rachman (Ormond Beach, Fla.), Isabella Herrero (Ormond Beach, Fla.), Aslesha Lissanevitch (Kathmandu, Nepal) and Barrie Eisenberg (Weston, Fla.).


Auburn team members included: Lindsay Grosz (Mobile, Ala.), Hannah Nelson (Birmingham, Ala.), Hannah Shoener (Greensboro, N.C.), Will McWhirt (Lawrenceville, Ga.), Nathan Wang (Birmingham, Ala.), Marshall Brown (Fairehope, Ala.), and Vegas (Spanish Fort, Ala.).


To reach the final, Florida avenged a loss from last year’s Nationals with a 27-19 win over the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Auburn took out Georgia College, 22-16.


At the Player Party on Saturday night, it was announced that Georgia College had won the Team’s Captain Award and Ferris State took home the Team Spirit Award.


The USTA Tennis On Campus program features more than 45,000 college students competing nationwide in intramural and intercollegiate club play using the World TeamTennis format. Since its inception in 2000, Tennis On Campus has grown significantly and today is played on more than 700 college campuses across the country.



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