Before beginning its dual-match season next week, the UF women's tennis team will have one last tournament-style tune-up starting Thursday.
Four members of the team will travel to Las Vegas to play in the Freeman Memorial Classic, which lasts until Sunday.
Senior Lolita Frangulyan and sophomores Megan Alexander, Anastasia Revzina and Csilla Borsanyi will try to regain their feel for match play in time for the upcoming season.
UF coach Roland Thornqvist said his players are a little rusty but physically strong, each coming off a break of two months or longer.
"It's an excellent time for us to play some really good competition," he said. "This tournament traditionally is tougher than the NCAA tournament. It's a great opportunity for all our players."
The Gators are ranked No. 4 in the ITA preseason poll after advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last year.
Despite the high team ranking, the Gators don't have any individuals ranked higher than No. 37 (Alexander), probably due to the team's lack of play during the fall.
"I hope that's a motivating factor to our athletes," Thornqvist said.
Part of the reason for the minimal play was because of nagging injuries that affected several players.
"The fall was not that good for us," Thornqvist said. "We did not use the fall as much as we could."
Now, everyone is healthy and there are seven eligible players with the addition of freshman Julia Cohen, who Thornqvist said could help the team right away.
UF also has two ranked doubles teams, but they will mix up the rotations at this tournament, pairing Alexander with Borsanyi and Revzina with Frangulyan. Thornqvist said he did not know which of the seven players will play on the three doubles teams this season but hopes this tournament will give him an idea.
He added that getting off to a fast start this season is important for the team because it sets the tone for the rest of the year.
The Gators will be tested early in the season, their biggest challenge coming later this month against No. 29 South Florida, whom Thornqvist called a "top-10 talent team."
"January is a key month for us," he said. "The more matches I think we play, the better we're going to get as a team."
But it all starts Thursday.
"If you get one win here it's going to really help you in the individual rankings, but even if you pick up some losses here it's not going to hurt you because the field is so strong," Thornqvist said. "We just want to get some matches going into our dual-match season."
"We have a lot to gain from this event and not a whole lot to lose. Even if we bomb, we're still going to get something out of it."