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Monday, June 17, 2024
Florida graduate student Axel Nefve hits the ball in the Gators' 5-2 loss to the No. 8 Texas Longhorns Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.
Florida graduate student Axel Nefve hits the ball in the Gators' 5-2 loss to the No. 8 Texas Longhorns Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023.

Florida’s International Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championship weekend didn’t go as planned.

UF (5-5) lost two of its three matches in the tournament. Kentucky (12-1) and North Carolina (7-5) got the best of Florida before it earned a victory against Baylor (5-8).

The No. 16 Gators lost to the No. 2 Wildcats 4-1 in the first match Friday.

Doubles play started well for the Gators. Florida graduate student Axel Nefve and junior Will Grant beat Kentucky fifth-year Alafia Ayeni and senior Taha Baadi 6-4 in the first match.

Kentucky took over after the match and won the other two doubles matches.

UK senior Liam Draxl and freshman Jaden Weekes defeated sophomore Nate Bonetto and freshman Olek Orlikowski 6-3. Junior Wildcat Joshua Lapadat and redshirt junior JJ Mercer beat the Florida freshman duo of Tanapatt Nirundorn and Togan Tokac 6-4 to secure the doubles point.

Kentucky’s dominance continued in the singles round.

Draxl shut out Nefve in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, to win the first singles match. Lapadat gave Kentucky a 3-0 lead with his two-set victory against Gators freshman Jonah Braswell, 6-4, 6-1.

Florida’s first point came when Tokac defeated Weekes in a tough three-set match, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. However, Kentucky clinched the win after four singles matches. Freshman Charlelie Cosnet battled Gators senior Lukas Greif, ending the match in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-3.

The final two singles matches were retired since the Wildcats had already won. Grant faced Ayeni in one match, while Bonetto faced Baadi in the other.

Florida’s loss led them to a consolation match on Saturday. The Gators lost to the No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels 4-2. Doubles play followed the same path it did Friday.

Grant and Nefve defeated Tar Heels graduate student Ryan Seggerman and sophomore Casey Kania 6-2 in the first doubles match.

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The Tar Heels — like the Wildcats — then won the final two doubles matches. 

North Carolina graduate student Brian Cernoch and freshman Benjamin Kittay beat Nirundorn and Tokac 6-2. North Carolina freshman Will Jansen and graduate student Karl Poling took on Braswell and Greif and won 6-4 to secure the doubles point.

Florida won the first two singles matches. Orlikowski beat junior Peter Murphy in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, to get the Gators’ first point. Grant then found a two-set victory against Seggerman in the second match, 6-3, 6-4.

North Carolina didn’t lose another singles match after Grant’s win. Cernoch defeated Nefve in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4, to even the score back to 2-2. Senior Anuj Watane’s two-set victory against Tokac, 7-5, 6-3, gave the Tar Heels the lead.

Jansen put the nail in the coffin with his win against Braswell in two sets, 6-3, 7-5. Since North Carolina had already secured the victory, the final singles match between Poling and Bonetto was retired. 

The Gators ended the tournament Sunday. Florida beat the No. 10 Baylor Bears 4-2 in their final consolation match.

Doubles play went the Gators’ way for the first time all weekend.

Grant and Nefve defeated fifth-year senior Finn Bass and senior Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi 6-1. Baylor bounced back when junior Tadeas Paroulek and freshman Zsombor Velcz beat Nirundorn and Tokac 6-1.

Greif and Braswell took care of business against freshman Luc Koenig and sophomore Ethan Muza in the final match; they won 7-5 to secure the doubles point.

Florida continued its momentum into singles play. Nefve beat Paroulek in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, to win the first singles match.

Velcz won the Bears’ first point in his two-set victory over Braswell, 6-4, 6-3.

Grant defeated sophomore Marko Miladinovic in a hard-fought two-set win, 7-6(5), 7-5, to put the Gators up 3-1.

Mazzuchi got another point for Baylor when he beat Tokac in three sets, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. 

Florida clinched the win after the fifth singles match. Orlikowski beat Muza in three sets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

The final match between Bonetto and Koenig was retired after the Gators solidified its win.

Florida will look to rebound from their disappointing performance at 4 p.m. March 2 against Mississippi State. Streaming will be available on the official Mississippi State athletics website.

Contact Eitan Ohana at eohana@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @eitan_ohana.

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