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Friday, June 14, 2024

Gators men’s tennis falls on the road to No. 5 Kentucky

The Gators suffered their first SEC loss of the year after falling 4-1 to the Wildcats

Jeremy Jin hits a backhand shot in the Gators men's tennis team's match against the Citadel on Friday, January 19, 2024.
Jeremy Jin hits a backhand shot in the Gators men's tennis team's match against the Citadel on Friday, January 19, 2024.

The Florida Gators men’s tennis team (6-5, 2-1 SEC) fell to the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats (12-2, 3-0 SEC) 4-1, Friday evening. Even after dropping the doubles point, the Wildcats proved their national ranking by hitting the Gators off the court in singles play.

The Gators jumped on the Wildcats early in the doubles session, trying to establish some momentum. The true freshman duo of Jeremy Jin and Henry Jefferson for the Gators pulled a win over an intense match against the Wildcat freshman duo of Jack Loutit and Matt Rankin. The Gators now needed one of the remaining two doubles matches to claim the doubles point. 

The UF pair of junior Nate Bonetto and freshman Aidan Kim faced the No. 13-ranked team of senior Joshua Lapadat and redshirt senior JJ Mercer. The back-and-forth match resulted in a big 6-4 win for the Gators on Court 1. This win awarded the Gators the doubles point for the fourth time in their last five matches. 

Kentucky quickly turned the tide of the match back in its favor by sprinting out to early leads across all four singles courts. Sophomore Jaden Weekes opened the scoreboard for the Wildcats on Court 3. Weekes made quick work of Gator freshman Adhithya Ganesan, winning 6-1, 6-1 to tie the match 1-apiece.

The Gators found themselves down 3-1 as the matches on Courts 1 and 4 ended within minutes of one another. On Court 4, Bonetto took on Wildcat sophomore Charlelie Cosnet. Cosnet brought it to Bonetto early, taking a quick 4-1 lead in the first set, and he never looked back. Cosnet defeated Bonetto 7-5, 6-3 to give Kentucky its first lead in the match. 

On Court 1, No. 97-ranked Jin for UF faced off against Kentucky’s No. 21 fifth-year player Taha Baadi. Baadi won the first set 6-2 by simply outplaying Jin. However, Jin fought back and found himself up 3-0 in the second set. Baadi then mounted an emotional comeback in the set to win the match 6-2, 7-5. 

Kentucky's winning match came from Court 2. Kim pushed Lapadat to the limit but ultimately, he came out with the win for the Wildcats, 6-3, 7-6.

The Gators will look to bounce back against the No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Contact Chandler Hawkes at Follow him on Twitter @HawkesChandler. 

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