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Saturday, April 13, 2024

This weekend's preseason tournament provided experience for a young UF men's tennis team.

Freshman Carlos Gonzalez de Cueto reached the finals of the SEC Coaches' Indoor Championship on Monday.

Cueto defeated the top-seeded singles player, LSU's Michael Venus, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (6) before losing to Tennessee's J.P. Smith 6-2, 7-6 (6).

The loss didn't disappoint coach Andy Jackson.

"When a player can get to the finals as a freshman, it's really an accomplishment for the whole team," Jackson said.

Though inexperienced, the team impressed Jackson.

"Having beaten the No. 2 player in the nation is an outstanding result," Jackson said. "I was pleasantly surprised by (Cueto's) play."

Sophomores Jeff Dadamo and Johnny Hamui faced each other in the consolation finals, with Hamui winning 1-6, 6-3, 10-6.

As a team, Dadamo and Hamui were downed by Georgia's Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg 8-2 on Saturday.

Junior Antoine Benneteau and freshman Joey Burkhardt upset Mississippi's Johas Berg and Bram ten Berge, the nation's No. 1 doubles team, with an 8-6 score before losing in the semifinals.

Benneteau, Burkhardt and sophomore Alex Lacroix were each ousted in Saturday's Round of 16 singles matches.

Jackson believes the team - which consists of two freshmen, five sophomores and two juniors - will be formidable in the near future.

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"We're going to be able to keep it together two or three years and possibly win a couple titles," he said.

The men open the regular season at 3 p.m. Friday against Furman at home.

"We're jumping right into the fire," Jackson said, "so we have a tough road ahead."

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