Scott Stricklin

Florida Men’s Tennis Crushes LSU on the Road

On Saturday, the Florida Gators Men’s Tennis team headed west to Baton Rouge for a date with LSU. The Gators were relentless, raining winners on the Tigers on their way to a 6-1 victory.

Much-Needed Win

Entering the 2023 season, Florida’s team was riddled with expectations. Head coach Bryan Shelton has completely elevated the team in recent years. They won their first team national championship in 2021, and they were undefeated in SEC play in 2022.

That is why it was relatively unexpected that the Gators would be 5-6 entering this match. They fell below .500 on Thursday, when they opened SEC play by losing to Mississippi State in Starkville.

This match was a must-win, and it appears the Gators treated it as such. From the start of the afternoon, there was never a question as to which team would emerge triumphant.

Match Recap

Doubles Drama

Historically, Florida has been a phenomenal doubles team under Shelton. Their ability to assert their dominance in this area has led to a lot of 1-0 leads when entering singles play. However, on Saturday, doubles proved to be one of the more dramatic portions of the match.

UF’s Will Grant/Axel Nefve and Lukas Greif/Jonah Braswell combinations began doubles by staying on serve for a while. As the two teams were stalemating, UF’s Nate Bonetto and Tanapatt Nirundorn fell behind 1-4. It appeared the Gators were going to have to depend on the other two pairs to win the doubles point.

Bonetto and Nirundorn had other plans. They stormed back, evening the score at 5-5 before securing the doubles point for the team via tiebreak.

Quick Work

Florida needed three singles wins to leave Baton Rouge with the W. The boys decided five wins were better than three.

In order, Olek Orlikowski, Will Grant, Jonah Braswell, Axel Nefve, and Nate Bonetto all returned from battle with wins. The only point the Gators dropped was by way of Lukas Greif’s loss in a third-set tiebreak.

Staying Spotless

Olek Orlikowski, the freshman from Poland, was the first to win his singles match. With the win, he advanced to 4-0 in his singles career, with every win coming against formidable teams.

He has been a hidden gem for the Gators, and being so young, his future looks incredibly bright.

Looking Ahead

The Gators have over a week to rest and practice before they continue SEC play against Alabama at home. That match is scheduled to begin Sunday, March 12, at noon.


About Steven Hieneman

Senior Sports Media/Business Administration dual major at the University of Florida, ESPN Gainesville WRUF sports correspondent.

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