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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Nestor Briceno's prediction didn't play out as he had hoped.

After Friday's 7-0 win against Central Florida, Briceno, one of only two seniors on the UF men's tennis team, called for a Gators upset at No. 4 Baylor on Sunday.

"They have a better team," Briceno said after Friday's match. "We just got to go out there and fight. That's our thing. That's going to be our motto this year. We're going to go in being the underdog for every match and see who wants it more."

Unfortunately for him and the rest of the UF squad, the Gators (2-2) fell 5-2 to a team they had beaten each of the last two years.

No. 13 UF put up a fight in almost every match.

The Gators pushed Baylor to the limit on the doubles courts before dropping the doubles point and propelling the Bears to the win.

Briceno and freshman Alex Lacroix took the first doubles match for UF 8-5, but Baylor evened things up when freshmen Tyler Hochwalt and Jeff Dadamo fell 9-7.

The Bears finally snatched the doubles point after knocking off senior Greg Ouellette and freshman Johnny Hamui, 8-6.

Baylor kept the pressure on by taking the first two singles matches in straight sets to push its lead to 3-0.

Ouellette finally got the Gators on the board with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

But the Bears clinched the match soon after on court two, where Lacroix was unable to force a third set against the No. 10 player nationally, losing 6-2, 7-5.

Hochwalt added a singles win for UF after the match was clinched, while Briceno lost 7-6, 7-5.

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UF's shutout of UCF on Friday, the team's second of the season, gave the Gators some momentum heading into Sunday's match, something UF coach Andy Jackson said was necessary if his team would have a chance to beat Baylor.

UF routed the Knights in singles and doubles, failing to lose a set.

Ouellette was the first off the singles courts, winning 6-0, 6-1 in just 42 minutes.

Briceno, the only Gator who hadn't lost a match in singles or doubles before Sunday, clinched the match for UF. He lost the first two games of his match before reeling off a 6-2, 6-1 win.

"Those two guys are fourth-year guys that have been part of championships and top-five teams," Jackson said, "and we need those guys to be solid."

Briceno and Lacroix won their first of two doubles matches over the weekend in an 8-1 demolition of a UCF duo. UF won the other two doubles matches against the Knights, 8-5 and 8-6.

"Confidence is our biggest thing right now," Briceno said.

The Gators will have a few days to rebound from their loss before hosting No. 55 South Florida on Friday and No. 17 Florida State on Saturday.

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