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Saturday May 9, 2009Miami (Fla.) Downs Men's Tennis, 4-3, in NCAA Second Round

Gainesville, Fla.

The University of Florida men’s tennis team fell, 4-3, against the University of Miami in the second round of NCAA Tournament play Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

 

The day’s action came down to a final set at third singles between UF’s Antoine Benneteau (Boulogne-Billancourt, France) and Miami’s Carl Sundberg. In a contest that ended more than three hours after singles play began, Sundberg won the deciding set, 6-1, to clinch the match and earn a trip to the Round of 16 for the Hurricanes.

 

“My opponent made me tired, but I gave all I had to give,” Benneteau said. “I will have to work harder, get fitter and be ready for next time. Tennis is a game of pressure. I give all the credit to my opponent.”

 

The Gators narrowly missed the chance to clinch even before Sundberg and Benneteau began their third set. No. 23 Carlos Cueto (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain) served at 5-4 in the third set for what would have been the clinching point. But No. 13 Daniel Vallverdu broke Cueto’s serve, then managed to hold serve and break once again to win, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, and set up the final act on court three.

 

“I thought we played a good match,” said head coach Andy Jackson. “We played very hard. We were very close to winning, but didn’t because Miami played better. Miami was tough, very fit, very well-coached, and they deserved to win. I’m very proud of my team, in particular our effort. We just weren’t quite good enough today.”

 

The day began with Cueto and Alex Lacroix (Paris, France) cruising, 8-1, at third doubles in 30 minutes.

 

After taking a 7-0 lead on court two, Jeff Dadamo (Tampa) and Johnny Hamui (Wesley Chapel) saw their lead shrink to 7-5 as their serve was twice broken. Dadamo, however, held serve in the 13th game to win 8-5 and clinch the doubles point for the Gators.

 

No. 16 Benneteau and Joey Burkhardt (St. Augustine) trailed No. 38 Vallverdu and David Rosenfeld when doubles play was suspended.

 

Dadamo earned the first singles point of the afternoon, overcoming an early first-set deficit on court six to force a tiebreaker, which he won, 7-5. Dadamo and Ignacio Taboada traded breaks in the second set before Dadamo forced a second break and served out the set for a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win.

 

Burkhardt kept the Gators rolling with a three-set win on court four, downing Keith Crowley, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

 

Rosenfeld, however, began the Hurricanes’ rally, giving up only two games to No. 33 Lacroix over the second and third sets after dropping the first set. Christian Blocker took court five in three sets to bring the match to 3-2.

 

The day, which included first-round NCAA action on the women’s side, drew 490 people to Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

 

More post-match quotes

 

Florida Head Coach Andy Jackson

On facing Miami for the second time this season: “I always like to play the teams that we have beaten before, but the biggest factor in our defeat today was that Miami played well.”

 

On Miami’s Daniel Vallverdu: “In tennis, it’s about the lineup, one through six, and their best player is also their best point-earner. The kid is an All-American and has the most wins on their team. Miami didn’t have him in the earlier matchup [against us], but this time not only did they have their best player, everyone else moves down. They are a considerably better team with him in the lineup. We knew that and were not surprised that we could lose to this team. This is a good, quality team. We played hard, and they were too good. Earlier in the year, we beat a team that was inferior in talent, sort of like when we lost a couple of matches without Carlos [Cueto].”

 

Miami Head Coach Mario Rincon

On his team’s win: “I don’t have enough words to describe how proud I am of our team, of our seniors, and of the program we are building. Winning this match today is the biggest match since I have been at Miami.”

 

On No. 10 Florida: “I have tremendous respect for the University of Florida tennis program, Coach Andy Jackson and the coaches. For us to come here in the last round of regionals and be able to take this match, I knew would have taken a huge, huge effort.”

 

Miami Senior Daniel Vallverdu

On playing Florida’s Carlos Cueto at the No. 1 singles position: “It was a good matchup. He played a great first set. I wasn’t moving very well at all, but I thought when we got into the match, he was going to miss a little more, but he didn’t. “

 

Final Score – Miami 4, Florida 3

 

Doubles

No. 1 (38) Vallverdu/Rosenfeld (UM) led (16) Benneteau/Burkhardt, 6-3, DNF

No. 2 Dadamo/Hamui (FLA) def. Sundberg/Crowley, (UM), 8-5*

No. 3 Cueto/Lacroix (FLA) def. Simon/Taboada (UM), 8-1

 

Singles

No. 1 (13) Daniel Vallverdu (UM) def. (23) Carlos Cueto (UF), 4-6, 6-2, 7-5

No. 2 David Rosenfeld (UM) def. (33) Alex Lacroix (UF), 4-6, 6-2, 6-0

No. 3 Carl Sundberg (UM) def. Antoine Benneteau (UF), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1*

No. 4 Joey Burkhardt (UF) def. Keith Crowley (UM), 6-1, 2-6, 6-2

No. 5 Christian Blocker (UM) def. Johnny Hamui (UF), 6-4, 1-6, 6-2

No. 6 Jeff Dadamo (UF) def. Ignacio Taboada (UM), 7-6 (5), 6-4

 

Order of finish: Doubles – 3, 2* Singles – 6, 4, 2, 5, 1, 3*

 

*Clinching match

 

-UF-

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