No. 7 men’s tennis prepares to host ITA Kick-Off Weekend

The seventh-ranked University of Florida men’s tennis team welcomes UC Santa Barbara, Troy and North Carolina State to Gainesville for the ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournament Friday and Saturday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.

The event is one of 15 around the country that will feed into the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash., on Feb. 18-21.

Florida (2-0) and UC Santa Barbara (0-2) will kick off action on Friday at 10 a.m. The Gators come into the weekend with momentum following a win against top-10 foe Baylor on Sunday.

“We want to play Baylor early like that to get ready for this Kick-Off Weekend because you want to make the national team indoor because that guarantees that you’re going to get three other top-15 matches in out in Seattle,” head coach Andy Jackson said.

“We play UC Santa Barbara first, and they’ve obviously done a good job preparing to come to Florida,” Jackson continued. “They played at Pepperdine and at UCLA, so when they play us it’ll be the third time they’ve played one of the best teams in the country on the road. So it’s going to be really important that we’re focused and sharp for that first one on Friday morning, and hopefully we’ll have some success.”

Troy (0-1) and North Carolina State (2-2) square off Friday at 1 p.m. in the other opening-round match. The winners will meet on Saturday at 1 p.m. for the right to go to Seattle, while the consolation match will take place Saturday at 10 a.m.

The Gators are led by senior Alexandre Lacroix, who is ranked fourth nationally in singles and 11th in doubles along with junior Nassim Slilam. In addition to the sophomore trio of No. 28 Sekou Bangoura Jr., Billy Federhofer and No. 52 Bob van Overbeek, UF also has the services of reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Andrew Butz.

Admission to Linder Stadium is free for all matches.