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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Losing to Miami on Tuesday wasn't easy for the UF men's tennis team, which suffered its first loss of the season.

But immediately forgetting about the loss isn't exactly what coach Andy Jackson has in mind.

"I don't think that we can (forget)," Jackson said. "I don't really particularly want them to forget about it. I just want them to learn from it and see if we can take the positives and go forward."

The No. 13 Gators will get their first chance to move ahead on Friday when they host Central Florida at 3 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex. UF defeated the Knights 5-2 in 2007. While Jackson expects his young squad to win, he said nothing about this inexperienced team is a sure thing.

"I believe with this team that we really can lose to anybody, just because we haven't been around very much," he said.

A loss to UCF would put the Gators a step back. Four of their next six matches before Southeastern Conference play will be against top-20 teams, the first of which comes Sunday.

UF will travel to Waco, Texas, to face No. 4 Baylor, which advanced to the NCAA semifinals last year.

The Gators have defeated the Bears each of the last two seasons by the same 4-3 score, something Jackson believes is extra incentive for UF's opponent.

"I think they're tired of losing to Florida," Jackson said. "Obviously they can hurt us under those circumstances, but we have talent on our team and we can hurt them as well."

Despite its high team ranking, Baylor has just two ranked singles players (Nos. 10 and 80) and no ranked doubles teams, but UF will have three players ranked No. 62 or higher in singles.

However, the match will probably be decided on courts four, five and six, where the Gators will likely play three freshmen.

"We have to have a step up from everybody," Jackson said. "We're just going to stick with what we got, and just try to give a little bit better."

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There's one thing Jackson thinks will be a huge issue for his team, especially on the road Sunday - confidence.

"Confidence is not something that you can buy at the drug store," he said. "It's something that you have to earn, and we don't have it. But we're going to try to earn a little bit of it on Friday. And then there's a big opportunity on Sunday to get a lot of it."

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