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Monday, May 27, 2024
Gators men's tennis freshman Jeremy Jin shows emotion after a point in Florida's win over the University of Central Florida on Monday, February 19, 2024.
Gators men's tennis freshman Jeremy Jin shows emotion after a point in Florida's win over the University of Central Florida on Monday, February 19, 2024.

The Florida Gators men’s tennis team (6-4, 2-0 SEC) capped off opening weekend of conference play with a 4-1 win over ranked opponent, the No. 25 LSU Tigers (11-2,1-1 SEC). The match was hit with a lightning delay that suspended play for over an hour. 

The Tigers came out flying in doubles play, and the Gators came out flat on the other side of the net. The LSU duo of senior Chen Dong and junior Julien Penzlin outplayed the UF freshmen pair of Jeremy Jin and Henry Jefferson from the very first point. They took the set 6-1, and the Gators were down on the other remaining courts. 

In the ladder stages of the remaining matches, play was suspended due to lightning in the area. Eventually, the match was moved inside after a long break. This gave the Gators a chance to hit the reset button and match the energy from the Tigers.

Coming out of the break, the Gators did just that by getting the doubles matches back level. In the end, freshman Aleksi Lofman and fifth-year Stefan Latinovic of LSU pulled out the win in a tiebreaker over junior Nate Bonetto and freshman Aidan Kim. LSU won the doubles point, but the Gators found new life in the match.

In singles, the Gators were without freshman Adhithya Ganesan on Court 2, resulting in everyone below him moving up a spot in the lineup. Bonetto got out of the gates quickly on Court 3, winning the first set 6-2. Bonetto kept pushing in the second set to get the 6-2, 7-5 victory over LSU freshman Aleksi Lofman and evened up the match at 1-1.

For the second time this weekend, No. 78-ranked Jin found himself in a three-set battle on Court 1. After losing the first set 4-6, Jin fought back in the second set to win it in a tiebreaker. He carried that momentum from the tiebreaker and pulled away in the third set, winning the match 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 over LSU fifth-year Stefan Latinovic. 

Gators head coach Adam Steinberg had some high praise for Jin following the match. 

“He’s just an unbelievable competitor, one of the best I have ever coached,” Steinberg said.

Kim found himself in a physical three-set match against No. 122-ranked George Stoupe for the Tigers on Court 2. This match was decided by a few breaks of serve. Kim served out the first to win it 7-5 after getting a break of serve at 5-5. Stoupe battled back and took the second set 3-6. Again, in the third set, it came down to one break of serve, and Kim took advantage of it, winning the third set 6-4 to give the Gators a 3-1 lead in the match. 

On Court 4, No. 104-ranked sophomore Tanapatt Nirundorn sealed the match for the Gators with a win over LSU freshman Alessio Vasquez 6-4, 6-3. The Gators took the match 4-1 to complete the opening weekend of SEC play on a pair of upset wins. 

“To go through this weekend against two really, really tough SEC teams is tremendous for this young group,” Steinberg said.

The Gators will be back in action on March 8, as they travel to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats.

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