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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
<p>UF women's tennis coach Roland Thornqvist and the Gators were predicted to win the Southeastern Conference by the other SEC coaches.</p>

UF women's tennis coach Roland Thornqvist and the Gators were predicted to win the Southeastern Conference by the other SEC coaches.

Southeastern Conference play starts in March, and the NCAA Tournament does not begin until May, but both of Florida’s tennis teams are getting an early season test against 16 of the best squads in the country.

The ITA Team Indoor Championships begin today for the Gators men’s and women’s tennis teams.

Only six matches into the spring season, the men’s squad faces Baylor for a second time.

An early season road trip to No. 6 Baylor is No. 11 Florida’s only loss so far this season. This time they will play on a neutral court in Charlottesville, Va.

UF men’s coach Andy Jackson expressed reservations about playing Baylor again this early in the season, but the team has revenge on its mind.

“We’re ready for another shot at Baylor,” sophomore Joey Burkhardt said.

Jackson understands the difference in attitude.

“Coaches and players often see things differently,” Jackson said. “The players are thinking, ‘They beat us. Let’s go beat them.’”

The Gators (4-1) face the Bears today at 9 a.m. Should they win, they’ll face the winner of Louisville-Ohio State on Saturday.

The women’s team travels to Madison, Wis., for its first match this year away from Gainesville.

Coach Roland Thornqvist has played two freshmen, No. 13 Allie Will and No. 15 Lauren Embree, at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions in singles.

“I don’t expect Lauren or Allie to be awestruck by the tournament atmosphere in Madison,” Thornqvist said, noting they both have professional tournament experience.

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Thornqvist said he’s concerned with his team’s adjustment to indoor courts. He is unsure how his players will respond to a faster game in which they will need to “play to the net.”

No. 7 Florida (6-0) will match up with Michigan today at 10 a.m., and a win against the Wolverines would advance the Gators to face the winner of Northwestern vs. Tennessee on Saturday.

Tennessee is not the only already-scheduled opponent in Madison (UF will face the Volunteers on April 9). FSU (Feb. 23) and Georgia (April 11) are also among the 16 teams in the tournament, but playing those schools twice is not on Thornqvist’s mind.

“I’m not going to look further down the draw,” he said. “We’re focused on Michigan. I know it’s a sports cliché, but we’re taking it one opponent at a time.”

UF women's tennis coach Roland Thornqvist and the Gators were predicted to win the Southeastern Conference by the other SEC coaches.

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