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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Within one week, the UF men's tennis team took down three top-50 opponents. And they did it rather handily.

The No. 7 Gators' 6-1 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M on Saturday advanced them to the third round of the Intercollegiate Tennis Indoor Championships beginning Feb. 13.

But first, UF (4-0) will host in-state rival Central Florida at 3 p.m. today.

The Knights bring No. 81-ranked Claudio Romano to Linder Stadium. The Gators have defeated seven of the eight top-100 singles players they have faced.

Alex Lacroix has bested three of these opponents himself.

"He's going to have a pretty high ranking," UF coach Andy Jackson said of the sophomore. "I'm not worried so much about the ranking as the quality of play."

And quality it is.

The unranked Lacroix toppled the No. 8- and 13-ranked players on Court 2 and beat the No. 88 player on Court 1 when his teammate, freshman Carlos Cueto (No. 87), sat out from the Arizona dual match.

Lacroix's aggressive game didn't always fare well. His resurgence has earned Jackson's confidence to play him second only to Cueto on the depth chart.

"(Lacroix) didn't play very well in the fall," Jackson said.

"I think he's going to play better this year."

In doubles, UCF has the No. 60 duo of Joe Delinks and Brock Sakey.

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Junior Antoine Benneteau and freshman Joey Burkhardt will pair up on Court 1 for UF. The tandem had a win over the nation's top doubles team in the Southeastern Conference Indoor Tournament but dropped its first match of the season against the Aggies on Saturday.

Still, Jackson is more concerned with the collective effort of his team as opposed to individual achievements, whether singles or doubles.

"The strength of our team is in our numbers," he said. "We've got a lot of guys that are good players. That gives us an advantage because we do have a lot of depth and competition responds."

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