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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

No. 25 Gators men’s tennis sweeps No. 21 South Carolina in final regular season match

The Gators finished the regular season with an 11-1 record at home.

The No. 25-ranked Florida Gators men’s tennis team (12-10, 6-6 SEC) swept the No. 21-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (13-13, 4-8 SEC) Sunday afternoon in its final match of the regular season. 

The Gators started out hot, sweeping the doubles point. On Court 2, the No. 70-ranked doubles team of Gators sophomore Tanapatt Nirundorn and freshman Adhithya Ganesan took down the Gamecocks team of senior James Story and sophomore Lucas Andrade da Silva. The two played one of their most complete matches of the season on their way to a 6-3 victory.

Clinching the doubles point was the Gators' pairing of junior Nate Bonetto and freshman Aidan Kim. The No. 31-ranked doubles team was tasked with taking on the No. 13-ranked doubles team in the nation, consisting of Gamecocks senior Toby Samuel and junior Casey Hoole. On two separate occasions, Florida had a chance to serve out the match, but the Gamecocks fought them off and sent the match to a tiebreaker. Bonetto and Kim pulled through in the tiebreaker, winning 7-2.

In singles action, No. 125-ranked Kim carried over the doubles momentum and dominated Story on Court 2, winning 6-1, 6-1. The win extended the Gators' lead in the match to 2-0. 

“Aidan played terrific,” head coach Adam Steinberg said. “He’s had a good run here, and when he’s confident…he can be one of the best players in college tennis.”

On Court 6, Gators freshman Kevin Edengren extended his singles win streak to five with another straight-set win. Edengren took the first set 6-1 over Gamecocks senior Carter Morgan. Morgan fought back in the second set, leading for the majority. Down 5-4, Edengren rattled off three straight games to take the set 7-5, extending the Gators lead to 3-0.

The clincher came off of the racket of UF’s Bonetto. He was facing off against Gamecocks freshman Jelani Sarr. The first set was a rollercoaster. Bonetto jumped out to a 3-1 lead early in the first set. Sarr fought back late in the set to take a 6-5 lead, but Bonetto was able to push the match to a tiebreaker. Trailing 4-2 in the tiebreaker, Bonetto came from behind again, winning the next five points to take the set. Bonetto continued his strong play and won the second set 6-4, completing the Gators’ sweep.

“They showed a ton of maturity and character, and these guys are growing right before my eyes,” Steinberg said. “This was a special win today for sure.”

The Gators now head to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the SEC Tournament, which begins on Wednesday. 

“I told the guys that’s where dreams and memories are made in the postseason,” Steinberg said. “I know we are really excited to get to Baton Rouge.”

Contact Chandler Hawkes at Follow him on Twitter @HawkesChandler.

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