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Saturday, February 24, 2024

The UF men's tennis team showcased five new faces in its season-opening shutout of Furman on Sunday.

The No. 14 Gators cruised through the singles courts unblemished and dropped just one match on the doubles court to win a 7-0 decision against the nation's No. 64 team.

UF coach Andy Jackson was pleased with his young team's first dual-match performance of the season.

"I like that we had five freshmen - never played in a college match - played against a well-coached, tough team and were able to get a good result," he said. Jackson said having everyone win across the board was a sign of the team's depth.

"It's been three or four years where we've had a deep enough team to win matches 7-0," he said. "We're a much different team than last year. We don't have a Jesse Levine, but we do have depth."

Freshmen Alex Lacroix, Jeff Dadamo, Tyler Hochwalt and Erik Corace and senior Nestor Briceno rolled through their singles matches, all in straight sets and under 90 minutes. They lost a combined total of just 27 games.

But the most compelling match for the fans to watch was on court one.

There, senior Greg Ouellette stayed on the court for more than two hours after failing to close out his match on several occasions.

He squandered five match points in two different games in the second set before finally winning his opponent's last service game to take the match 7-6 (4), 7-5.

"At the end, I was finally able to come through, but I think I could've made it a little easier on myself," Ouellette said. "The main thing is just getting it done in the end."

Jackson was also proud of the way his top player was able to hang on to win the match and complete the team sweep.

"That guy's [a Southeastern Conference]-caliber No. 1 player," Jackson said. "It was good to get everybody to win."

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A pair of senior-freshmen tandems helped the Gators seal the doubles point.

Ouellette teamed up with freshman Johnny Hamui in an 8-4 victory, and Briceno and Lacroix posted the same result just four minutes later to clinch the point.

"Me and Johnny are a great doubles team," Ouellette said. "I think putting us at (court No.) 2 will give the team a chance to win the doubles point a lot, because we could have the chance to be pretty dominant at two."

Ouellette said the team has a few things to work on before Tuesday's match at Miami, but now that the first match is behind them, they should start to loosen up.

"It's always tough the first dual match of the year," he said. "You're a little nervous. You haven't played any dual matches for a whole season. But I think once you get over that first hump, it's a lot easier."

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