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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

In its last home dual match before heading north for indoor play, the UF men's tennis team improved to 5-0 on Thursday.

The No. 7 Gators defeated Central Florida 6-1 amid a chilly wind blowing through Linder Stadium. They have played the Knights (3-2) every year since 2001, winning all nine matches.

"I thought we played a good match under difficult conditions," UF coach Andy Jackson said. "We needed to develop our depth, and it gave us a chance to do that."

With Carlos Cueto and Johnny Hamui sitting out, Erik Corace and Daniel Cash took courts 5 and 6, respectively.

Cash and Corace won their doubles match 8-3. In singles, Cash beat Danny Colon 6-2, 6-4, while Corace lost to Eugene Dolgovykh 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.

"Both of them were good in doubles, and Daniel was good in singles, so it gives us confidence that we have other options," Jackson said. "We play four matches in six days, and the likelihood one of those guys will have to play is high."

Cash, son of 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, was excited about his first start of the season. He said his game has improved by taking a more aggressive approach.

"It's just recently that I've been coming in (toward the net)," the junior said. "I enjoy it a lot more.

"It was my first match in a while, so I was a little bit nervous. But I'm happy to be out there again."

Alex Lacroix played Court 1 for the second time this season, defeating Johan Beigart 6-2, 6-2. The sophomore was coming off three consecutive wins over top-100 players.

Lacroix remains humble about his recent success, though. He acknowledged that having Cueto and Hamui in the lineup is necessary for the team to continue winning.

"When I get a chance to play No. 1, I do it and try to do my best," he said. "I just do my job."

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UF will head to Illinois on Tuesday to face No. 13 Illinois before the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor Championships begin Feb. 13 in Chicago.

"We haven't had much success at Illinois, so it's going to be a big challenge for us," Jackson said. "We're excited about it."

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