The No. 19 Florida Gators (5-6, 0-1 SEC) began SEC play Thursday as they traveled to Starkville to face the No. 18 Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-1, 1-0 SEC). Due to inclement weather in the area, the matches were played on indoor courts. Both squads battled, but Mississippi State ultimately came out with the 5-2 victory at the Rula Tennis Pavilion.
Final from Starkville.
Presented by @WellsFargo pic.twitter.com/6mAa6amvf9
— Gators Men's Tennis (@GatorsMTN) March 3, 2023
These two squads met Jan. 28 at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Gainesville. There, the Gators topped the Bulldogs 4-2. But Thursday, things were different. The Gators entered the match coming out of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 17-19, where they fell to No. 2 Kentucky and No. 12 North Carolina, but beat No. 10 Baylor.
The event began with doubles matches and opened with Mississippi State sending out No. 33 Carles Hernandez/Nemanja Malesevic to face Florida’s No. 31 Will Grant/Axel Nefve. MSU outlasted the Gators 6-3, setting a strong precedent for the rest of the event. The Bulldogs also beat the Gators in their second doubles match, as Petar Jovanovic/Gregor Ramskogler topped Nate Bonetto/Tanapatt Nirundorn 7-5.
Florida’s Jonah Braswell/Lukas Greif were able to grab a 6-4 victory over Micahl Novansky/Benito Sanchez Martinez, but the point did not count toward the Gators final score because they dropped the first two matches.
After falling in doubles matches, the Gators hoped to rebound in the six singles matches.
1️⃣ #109 Axel Nefve vs Nemanja Malesevic
2️⃣ #73 Will Grant vs #107 Peter Jovanovic
3️⃣ #83 Nate Bonetto vs #113 Carles Hernandez
4️⃣ #79 Jonah Braswell vs Ewen Lumsden
5️⃣ Lukas Greif vs Benito Sanchez Martinez
6️⃣ Olek Orlikowski vs Gregor Ramskogler
UF 0, MSU 1#GoGators pic.twitter.com/XeY4PhSbPW
— Gators Men's Tennis (@GatorsMTN) March 2, 2023
- Nemanja Malesevic (MSU) faced No. 109 Axel Nefve (UF) in the first match, which was extremely tight. Nefve won the first set 5-7, but Malesevic was able to subdue his opponent and won the next two sets 6-4 and 7-6 (5).
- No. 107 Petar Jovanovic (MSU) faced No. 73 Will Grant (UF) on the second court. Grant was able to get the ball rolling for the Gators as he swept Jovanovic 6-3 and 7-6. The victory marked Grant third straight win and his third over a ranked opponent in dual play.
- No. 113 Carles Hernandez (MSU) dismantled No. 83 Nate Bonetto (UF) in straight sets 6-2 and 6-2.
- Ewen Lumsden (MSU) and No. 79 Jonah Braswell (UF) played an interesting match. Braswell came back from a 4-2 hole to claim the first set over Lumsden. Then, Lumsden came back and won the second set 6-4. In the third set, Braswell battled a leg injury and ultimately retired down 4-0, giving MSU their fourth victory and clinching the victory.
- Benito Sanchez Martinez (MSU) defeated Lukas Greif (UF) in straight sets 6-4 and 6-3.
- Gregor Ramskogler (MSU) and Olek Orlikowski (UF) played the most intense match of the day. Orlikowski took the first set 7-6 (3), but then found himself in a bad spot in the second round as he was down 4-0. However, the Polish native battled back and won six of the next eight games to force another tiebreak. After the comeback, he was able to pull out the victory 7-6 (1).
Next outing for the Gators
The Gators look to bounce back against No. 34 LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday. The Tigers lost their SEC opener against No. 49 Texas A&M 1-4 on Thursday. Florida and LSU begin their matches at noon Saturday.