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Friday, April 12, 2024

Carlos Cueto and Tyler Hochwalt are looking forward to matches against familiar faces today. Their opponents? Each other.

Both Gators tennis players advanced to the finals of the Seminole Invitational at FSU on the strength of their four wins over the weekend.

Hochwalt, who will also be advancing to the finals, and Cueto clinched their respective spots in the finals by defeating higher-seeded opponents Sunday. Hochwalt downed the tournament's No. 1 seed, Austen Childs of Louisville, and Cueto downed Carl Sundberg of Miami.

Hochwalt's win against No. 26 Childs is symbolic of his strong finish to the fall. At the ITA Southeast Regional Oct. 16-18 in Lexington, Ky., Hochwalt reached the round of 16, the closest any Gator got to qualifying for the National Indoor Championships.

Being teammates, Cueto and Hochwalt know each other's style and should entertain the Tallahassee crowd. The two Gators played each other many times, and according to coach Andy Jackson, there is no clear-cut favorite for today's match.

Whether he tops Hochwalt or not, Cueto has opened some eyes this fall with his strong play. He has advanced as deep as anyone on UF in two of the team's three tournaments.

In both of those tournaments, Cueto shared success with fellow freshman Joey Burkhardt. Burkhardt did not do as well this past weekend as he had earlier, losing a three-set match to No. 47 Clint Bowles of FSU 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the second round. Regardless, the freshman has made a valid argument that he deserves to start when the Gators begin team play in January.

In a sense, Jackson saw the immediate success of Cueto and Burkhardt coming.

"Does it surprise me that they are impact freshman? No, because in recruiting we try to pick out guys that we think can make an impact straight away," he said. "Carlos and Joey are big-time, impact freshman."

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