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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

No. 20 Gators lose to second straight top-10 opponent as they fall to No. 7 Bulldogs

Florida drops third straight match of SEC play

Florida sophomore Nate Bonetto hits the ball in the Gators' 4-3 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs Sunday, April 9, 2023.
Florida sophomore Nate Bonetto hits the ball in the Gators' 4-3 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs Sunday, April 9, 2023.

Florida men’s tennis headed into its matchup against Georgia Sunday confident — UF won its previous five matchups. Unfortunately for the Gators, that streak came to an end as the Bulldogs’ talent proved to be too much.

The No. 20 Florida Gators (12-10, 5-5 SEC) came up short against the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (16-5, 10-0 SEC) 4-3 Sunday afternoon in Gainesville.

The Gators’ No. 10-ranked doubles pair of graduate student Axel Nefve and junior Will Grant started off doubles play with a big win over their No. 7-ranked opponents. The pair beat Georgia fifth-year Trent Bryde and redshirt freshman Ethan Quinn 6-2.

Georgia evened the score in the second doubles match to finish as fifth-years Teodor Giusca and Philip Henning defeated Florida sophomore Nate Bonetto and freshman Tanapatt Nirundorn 6-2.

The match came down to the final match to determine which team would take the doubles point, a position the Gators haven’t been in often recently. 

Freshman Jonah Braswell and senior Lukas Greif were tied 5-5 with Bulldogs fifth-years Blake Croyder and Britton Johnston which created a first to seven scenario. The Gators’ pair won the next two games and secured the doubles point for UF.

Singles play started with a matchup between No. 3-ranked Quinn and No. 81-ranked Nefve. The graduate student Gator had already shown he can compete with highly ranked singles players; he defeated the No. 2-ranked player in Florida’s match against Tennessee Friday. Quinn proved to be a different challenge as he dispatched Nefve in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.

Bryde put Georgia up 2-1 with a straight-sets victory over the No. 102-ranked Braswell, 6-4, 6-1.

The four matches that remained all went into a third set.

Nirundorn and Giusca traded 6-4 scores; Nirundorn took the first, and Giusca won the second. Florida scored the point when Nirundorn came out with a 6-4 win to take the final set.

Henning, the No. 13-ranked singles player, held off the No. 92-ranked Grant in their third set. The first set went Henning’s way 7-5, but Grant won the second 6-4. The two played the third set to a tiebreaker, but Henning came out on top 7-6 (5).

Georgia needed one more point to clinch. Florida had to win the two matches that remained.

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Greif started Florida’s comeback attempt strong as he won the first set of his match against the No. 107-ranked Croyder 6-3. Greif had a chance to end the match in straight sets, but Croyder got the second set to a tiebreaker, which he won. The set ended 7-6 (8). 

Croyder needed the third set to win the match for the Bulldogs. They played to another tiebreaker, and Croyder did it again. He took the set 7-6 (6) and secured the match win for Georgia.

The final match to end was played between Bonetto and Georgia sophomore Miguel Perez Pena. Bonetto won the first set 6-1, and Pena clinched the second 7-6 (2). Bonetto won the third set 7-6 (6), though Georgia had already won the match.

The Gators continue their home stand with a matchup against the North Florida Ospreys at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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

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