Andy Andrade

Andy Andrade

The Gators men’s tennis team is poised to return to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, for the fourth-straight year.

It starts its journey to Wisconsin when Florida hosts the 12th-annual ITA Kickoff Weekend.

UF will welcome USF, Temple and Fresno State to Gainesville to compete in a single-elimination regional.

The No. 1-seeded Gators are slated to open against No. 4 seed Temple Saturday at 2 p.m. at Linder Stadium.

This will be the fourth year in a row and the 11th occurrence overall Florida has hosted the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

On Wednesday, the SEC released its Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Gators were picked as the favorite by the league’s coaches to win the SEC title for the second-consecutive year. Florida racked up 155 points with Texas A&M in second (139) and Georgia and South Carolina tied for third (120).

Last year, Florida knocked off FAU 4-1 on Jan. 27 for the right to compete in the 2019 National Team Indoors in Chicago.

The opening round will start Saturday when No. 2 seed USF takes on No. 3 seed Fresno State at 11 a.m. The losers will square off in a consolation match at 10 a.m. on Sunday followed by the championship match at 2 p.m.

UF enters the ITA Kickoff weekend 4-1 on the year after dominating UCF 6-1 and Stetson 7-0 last weekend.

Florida has yet to drop a doubles point this season. They hold a 10-1 mark in dual doubles action. The duos of Will Grant and Johannes Ingildsen (3-1), Oliver Crawford and Sam Riffice (2-0) and Duarte Vale and Josh Goodger (2-0) have carried UF in doubles action.

The Gators have been steady in singles, winning 23 out of 30 matches. They are led by Duarte Vale (4-1) and freshman Blaise Bicknell (4-0). Riffice, Goodger, Ingildsen, Crawford, Andy Andrade and Lukas Greif, who each have tallied two wins.

USF (3-0) comes into town undefeated. Its best player, No. 121 Chase Ferguson, is undefeated with three wins along with four other Bulls.

The Bulls doubles duos have been strong, failing to lose a doubles point all season (6-1).

Florida previously faced USF on Jan. 28, 2018, when they dominated the Bulls 4-0.

Fresno State is the defending Mountain West Conference champion and are coming off a solid fall tournament season and are led by reigning conference player of the year, Zdenek Derkas, who sits at No. 124 in the ITA rankings.

Finally, the Temple Owls will be playing their first match. They finished last season with a 16-7 record going 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play. Florida and Temple will play their first match in their programs’ respective histories.

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