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Friday, April 12, 2024

No. 20 Gators end season on loss to No. 47 Cowboys in round one of NCAA Championships

Florida upset in first round of tournament

Florida graduate student Axel Nefve swings his racket during the Gators' 4-3 loss to the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs Sunday, April 9, 2023.
Florida graduate student Axel Nefve swings his racket during the Gators' 4-3 loss to the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs Sunday, April 9, 2023.

As graduate student Axel Nefve went up to try and save Florida’s season, hope was on its last breath. He trailed 5-2 in the third set with Oklahoma State up 3-2 in the match; nothing short of a miracle was needed. 

Unfortunately for the Gators, the Cowboys secured the victory and sent Florida home. 

The No. 20 Florida Gators (14-13, 5-7 SEC) fell to the No. 47 Oklahoma State Cowboys (13-13, 0-5 Big 12) 4-2 Friday afternoon in Orlando in the first round of the NCAA Championships.

Oklahoma State started doubles play with a big upset. Senior Tyler Zink and fifth-year Chase Ferguson, the No. 78-ranked doubles pair, scored a 6-3 win over the nation’s No. 5-ranked duo of Florida graduate student Axel Nefve and junior Will Grant.

Cowboys senior Alex Garcia and junior Isaac Becroft wrapped up doubles play early, as they beat Gators sophomore Nate Bonetto and freshman Borys Zgola 6-4.

The final doubles match was retired since Oklahoma State secured the doubles point. UF freshman Jonah Braswell and senior Lukas Greif led OSU freshmen Alessio Basile and Carl Roothman.

Braswell, the No. 86-ranked singles player, got to finish his singles match. He defeated Garcia in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. Basile got one back for the Cowboys; he notched a straight-sets singles win over Bonetto, 6-4, 6-3.

The four matches that remained all went to three sets.

The No. 94-ranked Becroft came out on top in his battle; he defeated the No. 91-ranked Grant, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Oklahoma State was now one win away from the next round.

Gators freshman Olek Orlikowski gave Florida life when he cut the Cowboys’ lead to 3-2 with a three-set win over Roothman, 7-5, 7-5, 6-1.

The No 32-ranked Nefve kept hope alive for a moment in his match against the No. 104-ranked Zink. Nefve won the first set 6-4, but Zink cut it there. He won the second set 7-5 and then the third and final set 6-2.

There was one unfinished match that was retired since Oklahoma State won the match. Ferguson and Greif were tied in a third set before the match was called.

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Oklahoma State won the match 4-2 and advanced to the next round of the tournament. For Florida, the season is over.

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

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