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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The last time the Gators played at home, it was against in-state competition before a road trip to play in a tournament featuring the 16 best teams in the country. 

Florida (6-2) returns from that tournament with two victories over top-7 teams ready to host another in-state rival, USF, on Sunday at 1 p.m..

UF coach Andy Jackson said the win over No. 7 Georgia boosted his team’s confidence, but the loss to No. 2 Ohio State gave the team “a lot of feedback about what we need to do to get to a higher level.”

Two UF freshmen returned to Gainesville with more than the satisfaction of a victory over Georgia.

Sekou Bangoura Jr. was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after posting a 2-1 record last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.

Bangoura, who did not play in the fall, has faced strong competition in the majority of his first 11 singles matches.

“It’s kind of nerve racking in the beginning, but I’m getting a lot more comfortable now,” Bangoura said.  “I’ve gotten a lot of help from the older guys these first few weeks.  I really feel like part of the team.”

Sophomore Nassim Slilam was named to the ITA All-Tournament Team after a 3-0 singles record in Florida’s three matches.

In the Gators’ six victories, they have won the doubles point every time. 

Saturday against Ohio State they won the doubles point but lost four of six singles matches to lose the match 4-3.

“I think our guys were too protective (after winning the doubles point),” Jackson said.  “We need to be more aggressive in singles.”

Even after wins over No. 5 and No. 7, UF should prepare to be tested by No. 43 USF.

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“USF does not care if Florida’s played Baylor or Georgia,” Jackson said.  “They’re an SEC-level talented team.  When you play teams from the state of Florida, you will always get their best shot.”

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