May 15, 2010

Gainesville, Fla. - In first-round NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament action on Saturday, sixth-seeded Florida downed South Carolina State, 4-0, at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

Florida improves to 20-4 on the season and 36-19 all-time in NCAA Tournament action. The Gators will face Auburn in the second round on Sunday at 2 p.m., also at home, with a trip to the finals site and the Round of 16 on the line. Florida has defeated Auburn twice this season, a 5-2 home win in the regular season and a 4-1 victory in the SEC Tournament.

"I thought we played a solid match," said UF head coach Andy Jackson. "I told the guys that we earned the right to be the top seed after having a very good regular season. We played a good, sharp match today but tomorrow will be a completely different challenge. Auburn is an SEC team and has played us very well twice. We'll have to play well or we will lose."

The Gators wasted no time on Saturday, grabbing the doubles point in just 38 minutes with an 8-1 win on court one from eighth-ranked Antoine Benneteau (Boulogne-Billancourt, France) and Alexandre Lacroix (Paris, France) followed by the 8-2 clincher on court three from Daniel Cash (Oslo, Norway) and Bob Van Overbeek (Boca Raton, Fla.).

The Gators continued their efficient play as singles action began, getting the needed three points in just over an hour of play.

Lacroix, currently ranked seventh in the nation, got UF started from the No. 1 position, defeating Gabriel Meana, 6-0, 6-1. Lacroix won the first 10 games of the match before Meana held serve to get on the scoreboard. It marked the second time in his career that Lacroix has dropped just a single game in a match.

"We've been excited to play this match because we were practicing against each other for two weeks," Lacroix said. "I think we did a good job today. We were really focused in both doubles and singles. It was a quick match which was important because of the heat today and will help us be more rested for our match tomorrow. For me individually, I'm really happy with how I played in both singles and doubles."

Soon after Lacroix's win, Benneteau brought Florida to the doorstep with a dominant 6-2, 6-0 victory on court three over Peteris Vinogradovs. The clincher came just one minute later as Nassim Slilam (Paris, France) finished off Jan Langer on court six, 6-3, 6-0.

"It was a great experience," said South Carolina State head coach Hardeep Judge. "We are definitely learning more every time we compete. We are continuing to improve every year and for a small school, I think we are coming along well. With the players that we have coming in next year, we are going to be a lot better. We are improving and hopefully we can get to a point where we are not drawing some of the top-seeded teams in the first round."

With Benneteau and Lacroix's doubles victory on Saturday, they became just the second pair in UF history to reach 30 doubles wins together in a season, improving to 30-6 in 2009-10. The school record