UF men’s tennis takes turn
Published: Friday, May 11, 2012 at 8:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 at 9:19 p.m.
The postseason presents a chance for everyone to start over, and the Florida men’s tennis team is hoping to take advantage of that opportunity when the Gators begin first-round NCAA Tournament play at noon Saturday against Navy.
NCAA men’s tennis
Where: Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex at UF
Saturday’s matchups: Virginia Tech (11-11) vs. Harvard (22-2), 9 a.m. Florida (14-9) vs. Navy (18-8), noon.
The Gators, ranked No. 11 with a 14-9 overall record, are hosting the first two rounds of play Saturday and Sunday at UF's Ring Complex at Linder Stadium and are the top seed in the Gainesville regional. Florida plays Navy (18-8) following the opening first-round match between 23rd-ranked Harvard (22-2) and Virginia Tech (11-11) that starts at 9 a.m.
“We’re very excited to be able to host NCAA Regionals,” Gator coach Andy Jackson said. “It’s always one of the top two goals every season along with winning the SEC, which obviously we didn’t. But we were able to secure a spot as host, and we’re excited about getting started against Navy. We know a little bit, but not a lot, about them, so we’ll just try and focus more on the Gators and not so much on the opponent.”
This is the second time Florida has faced Navy in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, having defeated the Midshipmen 5-0 in Gainesville in 2008.
Navy, which is 0-7 all-time against UF, claimed the Patriot League title and qualified for the tournament for the fifth time in the last six years.
Harvard, which claimed the Ivy League’s automatic bid, holds a 3-3 all-time record against UF, while Virginia Tech, which earned an at-large bid, has never faced the Gators.
UF is coming off a disappointing performance at the SEC Tournament where the Gators, the No. 4 seed, lost to No. 5 seed Ole Miss, 4-1, in quarterfinal action April 20.
The Gators had beaten the Rebels 5-2 during the regular season.
“After the SEC Tournament, we took a week off for finals then had a very intense week of practice after that,” Jackson said. “We’re approaching this more as an SEC week where we’re getting ready to play at the end of the week, and hopefully we’ll be able to play deep into the tournament. We feel like we’ve got a team that can play with anybody and can beat anybody, and we feel like we’ve got a chance in the tournament, which is going to be the goal.”
While Jackson, who is in his 11th year with the Gators, is happy to be hosting, he is well aware that does not carry a guarantee of moving on.
“We win most of the time when we play here,” Jackson noted. “The only time we’ve lost in a regional, however, since I’ve been at Florida, was when we hosted (2010 to Miami), so I know we can lose.
“But I’m very excited that we’re hosting. I think it’s very important. We sleep in our own beds, we don’t travel and it’s going to be hot. We’re used to it.”
Jackson went on to say he feels UF’s lack of familiarity with the other three teams in the regional field is a positive.
“I think it keeps our guys a little bit fresh if we see something that we haven’t seen before,” he said. “Even if we get to the round of 16, we probably won’t be playing anybody we’ve played before, and I think that’s nice at the end of the year. It gets you a little bit more juiced to change it up a little bit.”
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