Wednesday May 18, 2011Gators Prepare for Rematch with Kentucky in NCAA Round of 16
The University of Florida men’s tennis team continues its postseason run with a Round of 16 matchup against Kentucky on Thursday at noon Pacific (3 p.m. Eastern) at Stanford University’s Taube Tennis Center in Stanford, Calif.
Florida and the 10th-seeded Wildcats will meet for the third time this season after splitting the first two matches, which were both played on UF’s home courts at Linder Stadium in Gainesville. Kentucky claimed the regular-season matchup, 4-3, on April 1, while the Gators earned a 4-0 win in the SEC Tournament final on April 24.
The 20-8 Gators, the tournament’s seventh-overall seed, are among the final 16 teams for the ninth time in 10 seasons under head coach Andy Jackson and the 17th time in program history, all since 1991.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we’re very excited about where we are right now,” said Jackson. “We have a pretty obvious goal. We feel like we’ve got a chance. We know Kentucky extremely well. They beat us on our home court earlier in the year, and then we played a very, very close match against them about three weeks ago.
“We definitely feel like we can go a long way in the tournament. We also know that Kentucky is one of the better teams there. We’re going to be ready. I’m sure Kentucky is going to be ready. Somebody is going to the quarterfinals. We hope it’s us.”
UF holds a 42-12 edge in the all-time series and is 11-2 against the Wildcats under Jackson, who is a UK alum and member of the school’s Tennis Hall of Fame. Florida and Kentucky met once previously in the NCAA Tournament, a 5-0 decision won by UK in the Round of 16 in 1992 at Athens, Ga.
The Gators come into Thursday’s match on a season-best seven-match winning streak and are aiming for the program’s sixth all-time NCAA quarterfinal appearance. Florida has recorded 20 wins in a season for the 15th time in program history and has reached the mark in back-to-back seasons for the fourth time (21-5 in 2010).
We’re playing well in this tournament,” said senior Alexandre Lacroix (Paris, France), UF’s all-time overall career wins leader. “Kentucky is a really good team and a talented team. We’re going to be ready to play them. It’s going to be a battle. We’ll see what happens Thursday, but I think we’ll be ready to play.”
The Gators posted a pair of 4-0 wins in last weekend’s NCAA Regionals, defeating South Carolina State on Friday before knocking out Miami in a rain-delayed match that began on Saturday evening and ended Sunday morning.
Follow the men’s tennis team’s NCAA Tournament run at www.gatorzone.com and on Twitter at @GatorZoneTennis. A live interactive blog of each match will be available at www.gatorzone.com/coveritlive. The NCAA Championship home page can be found here: http://www.ncaa.com/championships/tennis-men/d1.