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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gators men’s tennis defeats Vanderbilt 4-2, advances to third round of SEC tournament

Florida found itself in an early hole, but fought back to set up a rematch with Tennessee

Gators men's tennis freshman Jeremy Jin goes to return the ball in the team's win over Ole Miss on Friday, March 22, 2024.
Gators men's tennis freshman Jeremy Jin goes to return the ball in the team's win over Ole Miss on Friday, March 22, 2024.

The No. 25-ranked Florida Gators men’s tennis team (13-10, 7-6 SEC) defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores (13-12, 4-9 SEC) in the second round of the SEC tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Thursday afternoon. After dropping the doubles point, the Gators bounced back in singles to take the match.

In doubles, the Commodores came out fast, sweeping the doubles session of the dual. On Court 2, the Vanderbilt team of fifth-year Joubert Klopper and junior Michael Ross took on the Gators duo and the No. 69-ranked team of sophomore Tanapatt Nirundorn and freshman Adhithya Ganesan. Ross and Klopper made quick work of the Gators’ pairing, winning 6-2.

On Court 1, the red-hot No. 23-ranked duo of Gators freshman Aidan Kim and junior Nate Bonetto faced off against senior Jeremie Casabon and sophomore Nathan Cox of the Commodores. After dropping the first three games, Bonetto and Kim fought back to get themselves back in the match. Ultimately, Casabon and Cox were too much on this occasion and closed out the match 6-4, clinching the doubles point. 

To start out singles play, on Court 1, the Commodores freshman and No. 61-ranked Danil Panarin squared off against fellow freshman and UF’s No. 52-ranked Jeremy Jin. Panarin got the better of Jin a few weeks ago in a tightly contested match, and today was more of the same. After being down 3-0 on the first set, Panarin went on to win 12 of the next 13 games to win the match 6-3, 6-1 to give Vanderbilt a 2-0 lead in the match.

Florida flipped the script over the remaining courts, winning the next four matches.

Nirundorn got the Gators their first point with a straight-set win on Court 5 over the Commodores’ Ross. Just seven minutes later, the match was tied at 2-2 thanks to Florida’s Bonetto. He cruised to a 6-4, 6-3 win on Court 3.

“Nate played like a veteran,” head coach Adam Steinberg said. “I thought he finished the match the right way, playing the right way.”

The Gators deviated from their normal lineup, putting Bonetto on Court 3 and Ganesan on Court 4. The move paid off. Ganesan gave the Gators their first lead in the match with an impressive 7-5, 6-1 win on Court 4.

Clinching the match for Florida was Kim on Court 2. He dropped the first set to Cox 6-3, but yet again bounced back with two dominant sets of tennis, winning 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. 

Steinberg said following the match that he was happy with the team's performance and to be advancing.

“Great effort, great hard-fought win, and we are excited to play tomorrow,” he said. 

The Gators will be back in action Friday to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the third round of the SEC tournament at 3 p.m.

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