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Friday, May 24, 2024

The UF men's tennis team will open its fall season this weekend with the Gator Invitational at Linder Stadium in Gainesville.

The team is returning the majority of its players from a group that finished 18-9 and was No. 11 in the ITA rankings a season ago.

Among the returning key players are Carlos Cueto, Alex Lacroix, Joey Burkhardt, Antoine Benneteau and Johnny Hamui, all five of whom are listed in the ITA preseason rankings.

In fact, the only players not returning to action will be Tyler Hochwalt and Jeff Dadamo. The Gators hope their departures will be offset by the addition of talented freshman William Federhofer.

"He's one of those guys that hasn't really gotten his chance, and I think he's going to contribute here at Florida," coach Andy Jackson said.

Despite his promise, playing time for Federhofer could be hard to find on one of the deepest and most talented teams in the nation.

The number of ranked players on Florida's team (five) is exceeded only by Virginia, which has six.

Of those players, the most is expected of Cueto and Lacroix, as both are ranked in the preseason top 25, with Cueto at No. 11 and Lacroix at No. 23.

While Cueto will not play due to tendinitis in his left hand and foot, Lacroix is expected to see significant playing time. Lacroix, who stands only 5 foot 11, overcomes his lack of power with foot speed and tenacity.

"I try to take the ball early and make the other guy move, do some drops shots and fight on every point," Lacroix said.

This style has his coach convinced Lacroix can be one of the best in the nation.

"I think he has a chance to be in the running to win the NCAA championship this year. He's improved as much or more than anybody," Jackson said.

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