After four months without Gators tennis, the men’s team returned to action Friday when it traveled to Vanderbilt for the Commodore Invitational. The team showed up and took down ranked opponents, including the preseason No. 9 ranked player.
Florida had four players represent the team at the Commodore Invitational in Nashville — Intercollegiate Tennis Association ranked 34 Axel Nefve, No. 91 Nate Bonetto, Will Grant and Lukas Greif — each competing in singles and doubles play.
The Gators swept their competition Friday on the first day of the Commodore Invitational.
Bonetto made quick work of South Carolina’s Jake Beasley, taking him down in straight sets. Bonetto won a close first set, 6-4. Beasley gave Bonetto no room to breathe but still fell short in the second set, 7-6 (6).
Grant took on Finn Murgett of Auburn in a back-and-forth three-set bout. Grant took the first set, 6-3, but Murgett fought back and won a close second set, 6-4. Grant responded and closed out the match with a 6-3 victory in the third.
Greif faced a tough opponent when he took on No. 89 Jan Galka, who also represented Auburn. Greif dropped the first set, 7-5. However, he fought back and won the last two sets, 6-3 and 6-2, to upset Galka.
Nefve’s highly anticipated Gators debut came against Auburn’s Alejandro Moreno. Nefve won the first set, 6-3, but Moreno returned the favor and beat Nefve in the second set by the same score. Nefve prevailed with a dominant third-set performance, winning 6-1 and taking the match.
All four Gators participated in doubles play as well. Bonetto was paired with Greif, and Grant was matched with Nefve.
Bonetto and Greif faced Macsen Sisam and Siim Troost of Vanderbilt in their first match together. The pair pulled out an 8-5 victory.
Grant and Nefve faced a mixed duo of South Carolina’s Lucas da Silva and Illinois’ Nic Meister. The duo won a close match, 8-6.
Saturday gave Florida more trouble as it only managed three wins in 10 matches. Each Gator played two singles matches and each came across a top-100 player.
Bonetto struggled against No. 98 Siem Woldeab of Texas in his first match of the day. Bonetto fell in the first set, 6-1, and didn’t have any newfound luck in the second set in which he lost again, 6-2.
He recovered in his second match of the day when he played against Michael Ross of Vanderbilt. Bonetto won the first set, 6-3, and took the second, 6-4, to win in straight sets.
Grant’s first match of the day came against Ole Miss’ John Hallquist Lithén. He won the match in straight sets (6-3, 7-5).
He then took on No. 37 Toby Samuel of South Carolina. Samuel showed why he is ranked inside the top 50 and beat Grant with a dominant 6-1 first-set victory. Grant fought hard in the second set but fell, 6-4.
Greif fought hard but lost both of his matches on the day. He fell to No. 92 Mark Mandlik of Oklahoma (7-6 (0), 6-4) and lost to Vanderbilt’s Siim Troost (6-4, 6-4).
Nefve gave up only three games in his first match. He took the first set against Texas’ Nevin Arimilli, 6-2 and had an even more dominant 6-1 victory in the second set.
His second match of the day came against No. 89 Connor Thomson from South Carolina. Nefve won the first set, 6-2, but he lost the second and third sets, 6-4 and 6-3 respectively, to lose the match.
Of the four players who competed against Florida’s pairs in the doubles bracket, three were ranked in the top 100.
Grant and Nefve took on Auburn’s pairing of Galka and Moreno. The Gators fell short as Auburn’s duo won, 7-5.
Bonetto and Greif faced a tough pair in No. 37 Samuel and No. 89 Thomson from South Carolina. They weren’t able to win a game and fell, 6-0.
Sunday, the Gators won four of their six matches as the tournament concluded with one round of singles and one round of doubles.
Bonetto played Lithén, who lost to Grant Saturday, but didn’t see the same result. Bonetto lost the first set, 7-6 (5), but tied the match at a set a piece when he won, 7-5. The third set was a hard-fought battle, but the UF sophomore fell short, 6-4.
Grant came away with one of the biggest upsets of the weekend in his singles match against No. 9 Tyler Stice from Auburn. He only dropped four games total and won the first and second sets each by a score of 6-2.
Greif played nearly perfect against Belmont’s Niklas von Hellens. He gave up only one game through two sets and won (6-1, 6-0).
Nefve took down Ian Cruz of Belmont in his second straight-sets victory of the Commodore Invitational. He won the first (6-2) and second (6-3) sets to close out his first weekend playing as a Gator.
Grant and Nefve failed to win in their final doubles match of the tournament. They lost to Raul Dobai and Murgett from Auburn, 6-3.
Bonetto and Greif closed their doubles play on a high note, though. They topped Vanderbilt’s duo of Mitchell Deames and Paul Wang, shutting them out 6-0.
Grant and Nefve led the Gators, each going 3-1 in singles play on the weekend. Bonetto and Greif split their matches 2-2.
The pairing of Bonetto and Greif highlighted the Gators’ doubles matches, winning two of three matches on the weekend. Grant and Nefve went 1-2 in their doubles matches together.
The ITA All-American tournament kicks off Saturday when the pre-qualifying round begins. It is yet to be announced which Gators will compete.
Kyle Bumpers is a fourth-year journalism major with a specialization in sports and media. He is the Gators men's tennis beat reporter for The Alligator. When off the clock, he watches too many movies and writes too many Letterboxd reviews.