Florida men’s tennis fell to less than .500 for the season when it lost its first match of Southeastern Conference play.
The No. 19 Florida Gators (5-6, 0-1 SEC) lost to the No. 18 Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-1, 1-0 SEC) 5-2 Thursday evening.
Freshman Peter Jovanovic and graduate student Gregor Ramskogler gave the Bulldogs their first doubles victory when they beat Gators sophomore Nate Bonetto and freshman Tanapatt Nirundorn 7-5.
Florida senior Lukas Greif and freshman Jonah Braswell responded with a 6-4 win against Mississippi State freshmen Michal Novansky and Benito Sanchez Martinez.
The final doubles match determined which team took the doubles point.
The MSU junior duo of Carles Hernandez and Nemanja Malesevic clinched the point with a one-sided victory. They defeated UF junior Will Grant and graduate student Axel Nefve 6-3 to put the Bulldogs up 1-0.
Hernandez’s prosperous day continued with the first victory of singles play. He dominated Bonetto in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, to extend the Bulldogs’ lead.
Grant secured Florida’s first point in the next singles match that ended; he beat Jovanovic in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6.
Martinez swung the momentum back in Mississippi State’s direction with a straight-set victory versus Greif, 6-4, 6-3.
Florida answered once again. Freshman Olek Orlikowski defeated Ramskogler in a tough two-set match, 7-6, 7-6, to bring UF within one, 3-2.
The fifth singles match was a heartbreaker for the Gators. Bulldogs graduate student Ewen Lumsden and Braswell, who battled a leg injury, faced off for three tough sets before Braswell was forced to retire from the match. Lumsden won the match, 5-7, 6-3, 4-0, and clinched the win for Mississippi State.
Malesevic and Nefve finished their match even though MSU had already secured the victory. Malesevic won a three-set battle 5-7, 6-4, 7-6.
Florida will head to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face the No. 34 Louisiana State University Tigers at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Contact Eitan Ohana at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @eitan_ohana.