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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

With everything it has endured this spring, there is one constant: The No. 21 UF women's tennis team wins at home. Every time.

That's good news for the Gators (10-8, 4-4 Southeastern Conference), as their final three dual matches will be played at Linder Stadium. That streak starts with No. 26 Alabama at 3 p.m. today.

UF fell five spots in the rankings after dropping two away matches last weekend to LSU and Arkansas. The match against the Tigers marked the sixth time the Gators were defeated 4-3.

They are coming home at just the right time. After a 15-0 start, No. 8 Marrit Boonstra suffered back-to-back defeats. The junior admittedly feeds off the energy of the home crowd.

The Crimson Tide's highest-ranked player is Tiffany Welcher at 105, which also bodes well for Boonstra. In doubles, Welcher and Courtney McClane are No. 73.

Still, Alabama (13-5, 3-5 SEC) is no pushover. This is conference play, where rivalry makes up for differences in talent.

UF is tied for fourth in the SEC East. A strong finish will keep them close to the division's leaders.

MEN FACE TIDE: The No. 10 UF men's team will finish its season on the road with hopes of being a host to regionals in May. The Gators (14-6, 5-3 SEC) play the No. 15 Crimson Tide today at 4 p.m in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Carlos Cueto, hot off a win against No. 13 Blake Strode in UF's shutout of Arkansas last weekend, said he is feeling better physically and has regained his confidence. The No. 27 singles player will need both against Alabama's Saketh Myneni, who is No. 34.

Gators coach Andy Jackson believes Cueto responded well in defeating Blake after the freshman's loss in his rematch with LSU's Michael Venus.

Jackson said doubles are also doing well in setting the paces of the matches. The No. 17 duo of Antoine Benneteau and Joey Burkhardt will likely face No. 35 Ricky Doverspike and Mathieu Thibaudeau. Burkhardt, like Cueto, feels everything is going right with his game and said going on the road against three top-30 teams were each just another match.

The businesslike approach was echoed by Jackson.

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"We've played a lot of matches on the road and mutual courts against top-25 teams, so we're not really going to be scared about it," Jackson said.

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