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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Florida men’s and women’s tennis teams begin Southeastern Conference play against Arkansas today.

The No. 7 men’s squad will try to get its first road win of the season against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark., at 2:30 p.m.

The No. 6 women’s team will be some of the only UF students left in Gainesville when it hosts the Razorbacks today at 5 p.m.

The women enter conference play as the favorites to win the conference title.  UF is the highest of the five SEC teams ranked in the top 25.

The Gators come into today’s match against No. 15 Arkansas with two-straight shutout victories over other top-15 competition – No. 8 Duke and No.13 FSU.

UF women’s coach Roland Thornqvist credits the strong start to a combination of “super freshmen” talent, No. 11 Allie Will and No. 15 Lauren Embree, and the team’s senior leaders, Marrit Boonstra and Anastasia Revzina.

“We are blessed right now to have Marrit and Nastia on this team,” Thornqvist said. “We are not in the same position we are right now without their leadership.”

The men’s team has proven it can beat top-10 competition, win at a neutral site and come from behind to win. However, a win in Fayetteville would be the team’s first win on the road. 

Arkansas is not one of the six SEC teams ranked in the top 25, but the Gators face an Arkansas team that has won eight of its last nine matches, including four straight.

UF’s only road trip so far this season was a 5-2 loss to Baylor. For men’s coach Andy Jackson, the road trip served its purpose of getting the team’s four newcomers ready for play against top competition away from Gainesville.

“I don’t expect to see the ‘deer in the headlights’ look from them I saw at Baylor,” Jackson said. “They definitely had already matured on the trip to Charlottesville.”

The current SEC Freshman of the Week, Bob Van Overbeek, enters today’s match with the confidence of having defeated the then-No. 57 and previously unbeaten Abe Souza, of Illinois.

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Another newcomer to watch is sophomore Nassim Slilam.

After losing his singles match in Baylor, Slilam has been unbeatable at home and on neutral courts at the No. 6 spot.

Both Gators tennis teams will continue their SEC season with matches against LSU.

The men’s team will play at LSU at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The women’s team hosts the Tigers on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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