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Monday, May 27, 2024

Friday's dual match proved to be a warm-up for the No. 10 UF men's tennis team as it topped Marist and set up a rematch against heated in-state rival Miami.

The Red Foxes, who earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's automatic bid, couldn't avoid a 4-0 sweep by the Gators (17-8, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) in the first round of the NCAA Tennis Championships.

Jeff Dadamo and Johnny Hamui clinched the doubles point for the Gators with an 8-0 romping of Matt Himmelsbach and Loic Sessagesimi. The No. 16 tandem of Antoine Benneteau and Joey Burkhardt also won its match 8-1.

Cueto, the SEC Freshman of the Year, was first to strike in singles with a 6-1, 6-0 win against Christian Coley on Court 1.

Dadamo followed suit against Himmelsbach, 6-1, 6-3 before Benneteau closed the show with a perfect 6-0, 6-0 victory.

UF coach Andy Jackson won't let the easy win go to his players' heads, though. He knows No. 22 Miami, which swept Columbia 4-0, will be waiting at 4 p.m. on Saturday for a second-round showdown.

"It will be a completely different match," Jackson said. "We're going to play a team that has the same talent level as we do.

"(Miami is) eager to play and they're going to play hard, but we're eager to play and we're going to play very hard as well because there is a lot at stake in trying to go to the Sweet 16."

The Gators had a 5-2 win against the Hurricanes from a Feb. 22 meeting, but the victory came without No. 13 Daniel Vallverdu playing No. 1 singles for Miami.

The return of their top singles player makes the Hurricanes more dangerous on every court, and Jackson said the appropriate adjustments will be made. Of course, he said, both teams are going to be nervous with a Sweet 16 slot on the line.

"Sometimes if you're nervous you can play better because it can give you a little bit of an edge," Jackson said.

Benneteau said he was "super excited" about the matchup.

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"We came with a lot of juice when we played them the first time, and I think we're going to come with more juice tomorrow," he said.

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