The No. 30 Ole Miss men’s tennis team suffered their first loss in over a month when the Rebels played host to the No. 26 Florida Gators on Thursday, with the Gators winning the match 5-2 at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
The Rebels (12-3, 2-1 SEC) fought hard through some tight doubles matches as well as some injuries on Thursday, but the Gators (7-7, 2-2 SEC) were able to hand the Ole Miss squad their first conference loss of the season.
To open the match, the Gators would strike first behind a No. 3 doubles victory to put Florida a win away from starting the day off with the doubles point.
However, recently-ranked doubles pairing Nikola Slavic and Lukas Engelhardt fought back for the Rebels, with the duo earning their biggest ranked win of the season against No. 18 ranked Axel Nefve/Will Grant by a score of 6-3. The win marks Slavic/Engelhardt’s second ranked doubles victory when playing together this season.
Despite a hard-fought match for the Rebels on Court 2, John Hallquist Lithen and Simon Junk were unable to clinch the doubles point for the Rebels, as the pair went on to lose their match 6-4. The Gators would head into singles action with a 1-0 lead.
Florida kept their momentum going into singles with a strong start, earning first set victories on nearly every court. The first Rebel to fall would be from injury, however, as senior Simon Junk ultimately retired from his match against No. 79 ranked Jonah Braswell in the first set.
Not long after, the Gators would clinch the match with a pair of quick victories on Court 5 and Court 6, building a 4-0 lead over the Rebels. The teams would agree to play out the remaining three singles matches on the day.
The silver lining of the day for the Rebels came from No. 1 and No. 4 singles, as both Nikola Slavic and Lukas Engelhardt captured wins for the Rebels. Slavic ultimately took down the No. 103 player in the nation on Court 1, winning in straight sets (6-4, 6-3), while Engelhardt would go to a third-set super tiebreak before clinching his match 6-7, 6-3, 1-0(10-4).
Slavic and Engelhardt will now continue to ride singles win streaks into the team’s match against Auburn, with Slavic having won his previous six and Engelhardt holding a four match streak.
John Hallquist Lithen rounded out the day for the Rebels, dropping a tight match with No. 72 Will Grant 7-5, 7-5.
The Rebels will now hit the road with a quick turnaround to their next match, as the team travels to Yarbrough Tennis Center to take on the No. 22 Auburn Tigers (11-6, 1-3 SEC) on Saturday, March 18. The match is scheduled for a 1 p.m. CT start time.
Ole Miss 2, Florida 5
No. 59 Nikola Slavic/Lukas Engelhardt (OM) def. No. 18 Nefve/Grant (FLA) 6-3
Bonetto/Nirundorn (FLA) def. John Hallquist Lithen/Simon Junk (OM) 6-4
Greif/Braswell (FLA) def. Isac Strömberg/Noah Schlagenhauf (OM) 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
No. 69 Nikola Slavic (OM) def. No. 103 Axel Nefve (FLA) 6-4, 6-3
No. 72 Will Grant (FLA) def. John Hallquist Lithen (OM) 7-5, 7-5
No. 79 Jonah Braswell (FLA) def. Simon Junk (OM) medical retirement
Lukas Engelhardt (OM) def. Olek Orlikowski (FLA) (4)6-7, 6-3, 1-0(4)
Togan Tokac (FLA) def. Isac Strömberg (OM) 6-3, 6-1
Lukas Greif (FLA) def. Gordon Whitwell (OM) 6-1, 6-3
Order of finish: 3, 5, 6, 1, 4, 2
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports