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Friday, June 21, 2024

The UF men's tennis team advanced two individuals and two doubles teams to the quarterfinals of their respective draws before being knocked out at the Southeastern Conference Coaches' Indoor Championships in New Orleans over the weekend.

Senior Greg Ouellette won two matches in the singles flight-A draw, including a three-set battle against Georgia's No. 67 Jamie Hunt 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, in the round of 16 before losing to Tennessee's No. 93 John Patrick Smith 6-3, 6-4.

Freshman Erik Corace played the best tennis of his young career, winning a pair of straight-set matches in the singles flight-B draw, highlighted by a win against the No. 5 seed Sebastian Carlsson from LSU.

Corace later lost to the No. 2 seed Javier Garrapiz of Georgia 6-3, 6-3.

"I felt that Erik Corace played very well in his first SEC indoor - played better than he had played in the fall," UF coach Andy Jackson said.

Jackson said overall he was pleased with the effort of his young team.

"There were some good things, and then there were obviously things that we could do much better," he said. "We have a lot of work to do, but at the same time there were some things that we did pretty well."

The Gators also played well together on the doubles court.

The fifth-seeded team of Ouellette and freshman Johnny Hamui survived a first round scare 9-8 (5), before trouncing their round of 16 opponent 8-0. The duo eventually fell to the second-seeded team from Georgia 8-5.

Freshmen Jeff Dadamo and Tyler Hochwalt also made their presence known on the doubles court as the eighth-seeded team. The pair outlasted a team from South Carolina 9-8 (5) in the round of 16 but followed up with an 8-6 loss to a team from Mississippi.

"I'd say the best thing was being able to have two doubles teams in the quarters," Jackson said.

He added that the doubles teams will remain the same when dual-match play begins Sunday.

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"Right now I'm confident and comfortable starting that way," he said.

Jackson said this tournament gave him a good idea of what the team needs to improve on in the coming weeks as the season kicks off.

"Why you go is so you can see not only where you stack up in the SEC but also the things that guys have to do to be able to develop their game," he said. "We definitely saw that from the indoor."

"Toughness and being aware of the intensity and the quality of the opponents are things that we're going to have to work on to gear through the first half of the season."

Jackson said that playing against tough competition will only help the younger players develop each week.

"It will help them a great deal over a period of time being in the league," he said. "For five freshmen to get to play against that type of competition is going to be good for us. It takes a little bit of time for it to pay off, but it will."

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