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Friday, March 31, 2023
Florida junior Will Grant lines up in the Gators 5-2 loss to the No. 8 Texas Longhorns Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.
Florida junior Will Grant lines up in the Gators 5-2 loss to the No. 8 Texas Longhorns Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.

Florida men’s tennis started the season winning its first serve. However, the Gators couldn’t maintain the success and fell to the No. 8 Texas Longhorns in their season opener.

The No. 13 Florida Gators (0-1) lost to the Longhorns (1-0) 5-2 Sunday in the Alfred A. Ring Complex. Junior Will Grant and freshman Jonah Braswell picked up the only Gators victories.

Florida’s Spring season kicked off with a first-serve win. The Gators’ duo of Grant and graduate student Axel Nefve — who played Texas’ No. 7-ranked duo of redshirt junior Cleeve Harper and junior Eliot Spizzirri — won the first serve of the day.

However, the No. 37 duo was quickly overtaken by Harper and Spizzirri. The Florida pair fell to a 4-0 deficit. They managed to take one game but lost 6-1.

The Gators saw more of the same in Braswell and senior Lukas Greif’s doubles match against junior Siem Woldeab and sophomore Pierre-Yves Bailly. The No. 43 tandem won an early game but was fated to another 6-1 loss.

Florida freshmen Tanapatt Nirundorn and Togan Tokac were the bright spots of Florida’s doubles play. The No. 10-ranked pair hung tough with Texas duo senior Chih Chi Huang and junior Eshan Talluri.

Their match was tied at four each, and the Gators led 40-0 in the ninth game. However, they stopped playing the match after Braswell and Greif were eliminated.

Greif played Woldeab in a lopsided match. Their match was the first to conclude after Woldeab won both sets quickly. The No. 13 Longhorn won 6-1, 6-2.

Tokac played Harper on court 5. Florida’s player, again, lost a quick match. Harper beat Tokac 6-4, 6-2.

All attention turned to Grant, Braswell, Nirundorn and Nefve. Florida needed to win its last four matches if it wanted to beat the Longhorns.

Grant was caught in a battle with Texas junior No. 30 Micah Braswell — who’s the brother of Jonah Braswell. Grant won the first set, 6-3, but he had to fight for every point.

The second set was back and forth with every rally and came down to a decisive tie-breaker. Grant won the second set 7-6 (5) to win a two-set thriller.

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Nirundorn played Huang on court six. The Florida freshman took the first set 6-3. However, he gave up the lead to lose 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Texas clinched its victory with the win.

Nefve came up with a huge first-set victory over No. 3 Spizzirri. The Longhorn battled back and earned 6-2 victories in each of the next two sets to give Texas a 5-1 lead.

Braswell played Bailly in the final match of the day. He won the first set, 6-2, in dominant fashion. 

Bailly found himself with a 4-1 lead in the second set. Braswell fought back and forced a tie-breaking 13th game but lost 7-6 (4). The final set only went four games until it was retired at 3-1 in favor of Braswell.

Florida’s next match is against Central Florida at 5 p.m. Saturday in Orlando.

Contact Kyle Bumpers at kbumpers@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @BumpersKyle.

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Kyle Bumpers

Kyle Bumpers is a fourth-year journalism major and the sports editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he cries about Russell Wilson and writes an outrageous amount of movie reviews on Letterboxd.


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