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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The UF men's tennis team opens its season today, on the heels of the Australian Open kicking off Down Under, when they host Furman at 3 p.m.

"It's a great time for tennis," UF coach Andy Jackson said about the Grand Slam and NCAA seasons beginning simultaneously. "The guys are very eager."

The No. 10 Gators have three players ranked in the top 100 - sophomore Tyler Hochwalt (66) and freshmen Joey Burkhardt (63) and Carlos Cueto (87).

The left-handed Cueto shocked LSU's Michael Venus, ranked No. 2 in the nation, at last weekend's preseason Southeastern Conference Coaches' Indoor Championship in Kentucky.

Jackson compared the native of Spain to fellow countryman and southpaw Rafael Nadal.

"They have the same technique, coming from the Spanish system." Jackson said. "They both play very physical with lots of topspin. Cueto has a one-handed backhand, though, that Nadal doesn't."

Burkhardt and junior partner Antoine Benneteau also impressed in Kentucky, toppling the nation's No. 1 doubles team, Mississippi's Jonas Berg and Bram ten Berge.

The pair has its work cut out for them, as Furman brings the No. 9 doubles team, Andy Juc and Robert Ladyman, to Gainesville.

Juc and Ladyman round out a team that returned every player with the exception of two graduating seniors from last year's Southern Conference champion squad.

Jackson is pleased with his group of physical players. Even the 6-foot-2 Daniel Cash attacks the net more than most finesse players his size, Jackson said. The Norwegian junior is the son of 1987 Wimbledon winner Pat Cash.

That's the aggressive attitude Jackson demands of his players, especially considering Baylor brings its No. 7-ranked team to the Ring Tennis Complex at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

"(Furman) is probably more of a test considering the next game," Jackson said. "I'd prefer not to be playing them first.

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"I just hope we can gain confidence and momentum from this match, especially going in as an underdog against Baylor."

The No. 7 UF women's tennis team is also in action this weekend, facing Central Florida on Saturday at noon.

The Gators have three singles players ranked in the top 100 - Marritt Boonstra (34), Megan Alexander (78) and Anastasia Revzina (99). The doubles combination of Alexander and Boonstra is also No. 18 in the country.

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