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Men's Tennis Headline

Wednesday April 20, 2011Florida Prepares to Host 2011 Men's Tennis SEC Tournament

Gainesville, Fla.

The 17th-ranked Florida mens tennis team is set to host the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1999 beginning Thursday, April 21, through Sunday, April 24. All matches at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex are free. Play begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday, and the fifth-seeded Gators first take the courts at 3 p.m. on Thursday to face Arkansas.


Were really eager to play the SEC Tournament this weekend, head coach Andy Jackson said. Well try to gain some confidence, gain a chance to host an NCAA Regional and, more importantly, make some progress in developing our team so that when the NCAA Tournament rolls around well be playing our best.


The league is extremely good a lot of good coaches, a lot of good players. Everybody is on the same page getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. Its a knock-down, drag-out SEC event. Were really excited about it.


         VIDEO: Head coach Andy Jackson discusses the upcoming SEC Tournament


         VIDEO: Billy Federhofer and Andrew Butz preview the SEC Tournament


         2011 SEC Tournament home page


Florida enters the event with a 14-8 record, including 7-4 in the SEC, and the SEC Tournament features six of the nations top 20 teams, nine schools in the top 35 and 10 likely NCAA Tournament squads. The Gators all-time record in the event, which began in 1990, is 29-18, winning the tournament three times (1994, 2000 and 2005) and reaching the championship match an additional three times (2003, 2008 and 2010).


UF defeated the Razorbacks, 7-0, in the teams regular-season meeting on March 6 in Gainesville. Arkansas, the 12th seed, comes into the match with a 7-16 record and 0-11 in the SEC.


I dont have to do too much reminding our guys that we can lose, Jackson said. If I do, then theyre not very smart, and they actually are very smart guys. Were going to be ready on Thursday. Arkansas is playing for a chance to get into the NCAA Tournament, and were playing for a chance to host. So were going to be ready, and Im sure Arkansas is going to be ready.


Florida and Arkansas have met just once previously in the SEC Tournament, a 4-3 first-round UF victory in 1997 in Columbia, S.C.


As the No. 5 seed, the Gators just missed out on one of the four byes handed out to the top four regular-season finishers, meaning that Florida must win four matches in four days to claim the tournament championship.


Were really eager to have that problem, Jackson said. If we look at it like we have to win four matches in four days, were going to lose the first day and were not going to have that problem. Were going to look at it like we hope that problem comes up. Weve got confidence in our conditioning, and well cross that bridge if it comes up. Were going to try very hard to have that bridge come up.


The Gators are looking forward to having the home crowd behind them as they attempt to make that run.


Its very exciting because its obviously a lot of fun to play in front of your fans, sophomore Billy Federhofer (North Miami, Fla.) said. The fans have been great so far, and Im just excited for the opportunity with my team to play these really good SEC teams.


I know its not going to be back here while Im here, so its really exciting to play in front of our fans, freshman Andrew Butz (Vero Beach, Fla.) added.


But even with the advantage of hosting the SEC Tournament, Jackson pointed out that the result comes from what happens on the court, not whose court it happens on.


I think it would be disingenuous for me to say that were not pleased to be hosting, Jackson said. Were really excited to be playing at home. The thing that is fools gold with young people is if you think, OK, were playing at home. That means were going to win. The team thats going to win the SEC Tournament is the team that plays the best tennis. That could be us. It wont be because were hosting.



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