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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The UF men's tennis team will attempt to avenge two losses when it hits the Scott Speicher courts against FSU today.

The Gators women lost to the Seminoles 5-2 on Saturday, and the men dropped their previous dual match in Tallahassee in 2007.

The No. 12 men (8-3) are coming off a win against Miami on Feb. 22, which gives them not only time to rest but also the confidence coach Andy Jackson wants instilled in his players.

They are going to need that swagger going into a hostile environment, especially on the heels of FSU's win on Saturday - one that is sure to have an already amped-up crowd raising the volume to 11.

"You go on the road - in Florida-Florida State, obviously you have a demon there, so it gives them an edge - but in the end it's going to be decided on the tennis courts, and I think that we can compete with them," Jackson said.

The Seminoles (10-4) aren't just a long-time rival, making a grudge match a possibility every year. At No. 16, they're a threat to any team they trade volleys with. Three of FSU's four losses have come against current top-10 teams - defending champion Georgia (2), Texas (6) and Mississippi (9).

In doubles, Jean-Yves Aubone and Clint Bowles are ranked No. 34 for the Seminoles, and are Nos. 19 and 55 in singles, respectively.

The duo will likely face UF's Antoine Benneteau and Joey Burkhardt on Court 1. The Gators' tandem is No. 23.

Benneteau said he is excited about playing the role of villain. After beating South Florida and Miami, the junior is up to the challenge of helping his team be the elite squad in The Sunshine State.

"Florida State is another rivalry in the same state," he said. "We just want to beat them, just go in as best we can. The best men are going to win, but we're going to be ready to go over there."

Beginning at 5 p.m. also favors the home team since more spectators are likely to show up to cheer on their players, Jackson said. But he believes FSU's war cry won't be the only one heard tonight.

"They probably will have some Coca-Colas in the stands up there in Seminole-land, but we're coming to fight."

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