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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

No. 25 Gators men’s tennis drops heartbreaker to Arkansas

Florida fell 4-3 to Arkansas in the over three and a half hour match

Florida senior Lukas Greif hits the ball with his racket during the Gators' 6-1 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Friday, March 24, 2023.
Florida senior Lukas Greif hits the ball with his racket during the Gators' 6-1 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Friday, March 24, 2023.

The No. 25 Florida Gators men’s tennis team (11-10, 5-6 SEC) went on the road Friday to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks (19-9, 5-6 SEC). After a grueling battle, the Razorbacks bested the Gators 4-3.

Arkansas started out fast, sweeping a tightly contested doubles point. On Court 3, the Razorbacks' senior tandem of Melvin Manuel and Alan Sau Franco beat the Gators' freshmen duo of Jeremy Jin and Henry Jefferson 7-5.

On Court 1, the No. 31-ranked Florida duo of junior Nate Bonetto and freshman Aidan Kim took on the No. 47-ranked Arkansas duo of sophomore Božo Barun and graduate student Jared Horwood. Barun and Horwood took down Bonetto and Kim 7-6, securing the doubles point for the Razorbacks.

After dropping the doubles point, the Gators got a quick point from Bonetto. The Gators’ junior dominated Razorbacks’ senior Stefanos Savva from the first point, winning 6-0, 6-4 on Court 4.

On Court 1, No. 52-ranked Jin faced off against Barun. The first set between the two was tight. Both guys had momentum shifts throughout the set, but Barun outlasted Jin to take the set 7-5. From there, it was smooth sailing for Barun, winning the second set 6-1 and putting Arkansas back in the lead of the match. 

Once again, the Gators came back. On Court 6, Gators’ freshman Kevin Edengren secured his fourth-straight singles win over Razorbacks’ senior Karlo Kajin, defeating him 6-3, 6-4. The match was now tied at 2-2, with the remaining three matches all in third sets.

Arkansas got its third point from Court 3, where Manuel took on Gators’ freshman and No. 106-ranked Adhithya Ganesan. Manuel took the first set routinely, winning it 6-3. Ganesan found his game in the second set, fighting back to win it 7-5. The third set was knotted at 4-4 when Manuel outlasted Ganesan to win the final two games and take the set 6-4. 

With the Razorbacks leading 3-2, all of the attention was turned to Court 5, where Gators’ sophomore Tanapatt Nirundorn and sophomore Benedikt Emesz were engaged in a three-set war. The two split the first two sets, and both were scored 6-4. Both players played the big points well in the back-and-forth third set, resulting in a tiebreaker. Nirundorn led the tiebreaker 6-3, when Emesz won the next three points with his back against the wall. At 6-6, Nirundorn battled to close out the match 8-6, tying the match at 3-3 and sending the attention to Court 2.

On Court 2, No. 125-ranked Kim was facing off against Razorbacks’ sophomore and No. 89-ranked Gerard Planelles. In a first set that lasted over an hour, Planelles took it 7-6 in a tiebreaker. 

Kim elevated his game in the second set, winning it 6-3, sending the match to a third set. Planelles got an early break of serve in the set, and that proved to be the difference. Despite Kim’s best efforts, he couldn’t break back and fell 6-3.

The Gators return home on Sunday for senior day where they will be taking on No. 21 South Carolina at 11 a.m.

Contact Chandler Hawkes at chawkes@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @HawkesChandler. 

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