Friday May 8, 2009No. 10 M-Tennis Downs Marist, 4-0, in NCAA Tournament Action
The 10th-ranked University of Florida men’s tennis team topped Marist College, 4-0, in first round NCAA Tournament action Friday afternoon at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
The victory sets up a second-round showdown between the Gators and the University of Miami (Fla.) at 4 p.m. on Saturday, also hosted by UF.
The Orange and Blue nabbed the doubles point in 28 minutes as the 16th-ranked duo of Antoine Benneteau (Boulogne-Billancourt, France) and Joey Burkhardt (St. Augustine) earned an 8-1 victory on court one, followed moments later by Jeff Dadamo (Tampa) and Johnny Hamui (Wesley Chapel) at 8-0 on court two. When doubles play was suspended, Carlos Cueto (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain) and Alex Lacroix (Paris, France) held a 7-0 edge in third doubles.
With the 1-0 edge, UF continued to dominate, clinching the match less than an hour after singles play opened. Cueto, ranked 23rd in the nation, was the first to earn a point, closing out Christian Coley at the No. 1 position 6-1, 6-0 in 54 minutes.
Dadamo wrapped up sixth singles with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Matt Himmelsbach, and the clincher came from Benneteau, who finished off Nicolas Pisecky 6-0, 6-0 in 58 minutes.
Per NCAA Tournament rules, play was suspended once the deciding point was scored.
The winner of tomorrow’s meeting with Miami earns a spot in the Round of 16, hosted by Texas A&M on May 14 in College Station, Texas.
Florida Head Coach Andy Jackson
On the team’s victory: “We are very excited to be through the first round. I thought we played well. I thought we were a little bit nervous, but we did a very good job of playing through it. It is a good draw to be able to play Marist, even though they won their league [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference], but these boys earned the right to have a good draw and play at home.”
On facing Miami tomorrow: “Tomorrow obviously will be a completely different match, where we’ll play a team that has the same talent level as we do. They [Miami] are eager to play, and they are going to play hard. But we are eager to play, and we are going to play hard as well, with a lot at stake trying to go to the Sweet 16.”
Florida junior Antoine Benneteau
On the team’s win against Marist: “It was my first NCAA Tournament match. Like Coach [Andy Jackson] said, I was a little bit nervous. We knew that we were better than Marist before, but you always have to be careful with that, because a lot of upsets can happen in sports.”
On facing Miami in the second round: “It’s a rival, and I’m super excited to play. We came with a lot of juice when we played them earlier, and I think we are going to come with more juice tomorrow.”
Florida freshman Carlos Cueto
On playing his first-ever NCAA Tournament match: “I think everyone was nervous. It was the first NCAA match for many of us. I think we have a lot of confidence. This is what you train for all year. You have to be careful that the nerves don’t make you play bad.”
Marist Head Coach Tim Smith
Opening Statement: “I was a little concerned when my assistant coach [Dr. Elliot Sussin] read me one of Aesop’s Fables. It’s about a red fox that goes for a ride on an alligator’s back, but when the gator gets to the middle of the river, he eats the fox. I did not think that was a good omen.”
On the challenge of facing Florida in the NCAA First Round: “Playing a team of Florida’s caliber with an outstanding coach who has been to the Round of 16 each of the last seven years and a team that doesn’t lose much on their home court, we hoped to come down and compete with class. I think we did that and gave the crowd their money’s worth.”
On Marist making its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance: “We have been to the tournament seven times now, but we always seem to draw SEC teams. I’m hoping to draw a northern school one year. It has been a great trip. The kids played well, Florida’s hospitality was great for us, and we hope to be back again.”
Final Score – Florida 4, Marist 0
No. 1 (16) Burkhardt/Benneteau (UF) def. Coley/Hobbs (MAR), 8-1
No. 2 Dadamo/Hamui (UF) def. Himmelsbach/Sessagesimi (MAR), 8-0*
No. 3 Cueto/Lacroix (UF) vs. Greene/Pisecky (MAR), 7-0, DNF
No. 1 (23) Cueto (UF) def. Coley (MAR), 6-1, 6-0
No. 2 (33) Lacroix (UF) led Sessagesimi (MAR), 6-0, 5-2, DNF
No. 3 Benneteau (UF) def. Pisecky (MAR), 6-0, 6-0*
No. 4 Burkhardt (UF) led von Nordheim (MAR) 6-1, 4-3, DNF
No. 5 Hamui (UF) led Greene (MAR), 6-6 (6-4)
No. 6 Dadamo (UF) def. Himmelsbach (MAR), 6-1, 6-3
Order of Finish: Doubles – 1, 2* Singles – 1, 6, 3*