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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
<p>Lukas Greif</p>

Lukas Greif

Wednesday’s match was a huge opportunity for the Gators men’s tennis team.

A chance to exact revenge on the team that ended its dream campaign last season, to get a win in front of one of the largest crowds in school history – over 700 fans attended – and to stake their claim as truly the No. 1 team in the country.

They failed to seize that opportunity.

No. 1 Florida fell by a score of 5-2 to No. 2 Texas, collecting its first loss of the season on Wednesday evening at the Ring Tennis Complex, while UT won its first match of the dual season.

The excitement began early, in the doubles portion. After juniors Duarte Vale and Josh Goodger picked up an easy 6-3 win on court three, attention turned to courts one and two. Both saw tight matches that could have gone either way, with a tiebreaker possible in each. But that wouldn’t be necessary, as senior Johannes Ingildsen and freshman Will Grant won 7-5 and clinched the doubles point for Florida.

UF continued that momentum into singles, winning the first set on three of the six courts. However, Texas took the first set on courts two and three and won both matches with ease in straight sets, taking a 2-1 lead and defeating two of UF’s top players, No. 4 sophomore Sam Riffice and No. 17 Vale.

The Longhorns were then on the brink of victory after No. 71 sophomore Lukas Greif fell in a tight two-set defeat, 7-5, 6-3.

The star of singles for the Gators was Blaise Bicknell. The freshman got the start on court six and seemed to be in for a rough going, falling behind 5-0. Bicknell then stormed back and won seven games in a row to win the first set 7-5. He then won his match after a 6-2 decision in the second set— This was Florida’s only singles win of the match.

“I just had to believe in myself and believe in my skills,” Bicknell said in a release. “I know I have all the talent. I know I have all the support.”

The enthusiasm from Bicknell’s win was short-lived. UT clinched the match on court one when No. 2 Yuya Ito defeated No. 31 junior Oliver Crawford in a hard-fought three-set loss. The match concluded on court four when No. 72 Andy Andrade, a junior, lost in three sets, as well, and UF lost 5-2.

Florida will look to bounce back from the loss when it plays its second doubleheader of the season on Sunday. It will play two in-state teams with action against UCF at 1 p.m. and Stetson at 4:30 p.m. Both matches will be held at the Ring.

“We just talk about the things we need to talk about so that we make sure that we learn,” Coach Bryan Shelton said in a release. “The guys that played the matches that didn’t come through or didn’t have their play as where they wanted to be.”

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Lukas Greif

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Noah Ram

Noah is a third year journalism-sports and media student from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He has been with The Alligator since Spring 2019 and has covered men’s and women’s tennis, gymnastics and volleyball. When he isn’t on his beat, Noah is usually sadden over his beloved South Florida sports teams, such as the Heat and Dolphins.

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