ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 49 UCF men’s tennis team won its seventh straight match on Friday as they defeated the No. 36 Penn State Nittany Lions in comeback fashion 4-3.
“Penn State played well, that doubles team is very good,” said Director of Tennis John Roddick, “I think our level was good, it wasn’t anything to get down about, our guys did a great job of coming out in singles and playing well. We got down, but that’s something we’ve really been working on, competing and fighting until the end and making teams finish. We did that tonight and we were in control.”
Doubles play was tight throughout the segment. Court two was the first to go down as Penn State’s Matt Galush and Ben Lieb edged Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi by a score of 6-3. The Knights knotted up the doubles segment on court three where Mikhail Sokolovskiy and Alan Rubio bested Christian Lakoseljac and Christos Antonpoulos 6-2.
Court one was in a see-saw of a battle. UCF’s Trey Hilderbrand and Bogdan Pavel were matched up against the No. 4 pair in the nation consisting of Constant De La Bassetiere and Gabriel Nemeth. The two were tied at 5-5 and eventually tied at 6-6, forcing a tiebreaker to decide the doubles point. The Knights fell in the tiebreaker at 7-5 as Penn State earned the doubles point.
The Nittany Lions kept the momentum going from their tight doubles victory into singles play. Penn State’s No. 110 Lakoseljac defeated Pavel on court two 6-3, 6-0. Court one fell next, as No. 101 De La Bassetiere topped No. 18 Decamps 6-4, 6-2 to pull Penn State within one point of the clincher.
At that moment, The Knights were in control of all four courts. Shortly after the Nittany Lions went up 3-0, Sokolovskiy won on court six in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.
Next to finish was Hilderbrand on court five, where he topped Lieb 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Hilderbrand has now won four consecutive matches, three of them coming at the number five position.
Grassi Mazzuchi took his opponent to a third set as well. After winning set one and going down 5-1 in the second set, Grassi Mazzuchi fought his way back to trail 5-4 against Nemeth before Penn State’s No. 4 won set two. Grassi Mazzuchi controlled set three, winning the match 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-1.
After Grassi Mazzuchi’s win on court four, the match was tied at 3-3. Court three was the only one remaining, where No. 122 Rubio was facing Antonopoulos. Rubio took the first set by a score of 7-6 (7-3). The second set was just as tight as the two headed to a tiebreaker once more. The back and forth battle between Rubio and Antonopoulos took the tiebreaker well beyond the usual length. The two continued to trade points before Antonopoulos won the second set tiebreaker 14-12.
Rubio began the first game of the third set down 40-0 before coming back to win the game. He then proceeded to break his opponent’s serve to go up 2-0 in the final frame. With all eyes on court three, Rubio took a 5-1 lead before ultimately winning his match 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (12-14), 6-3. He was then mobbed by his teammates as they completed the monumental comeback.
The Knights will take on No. 2 Wake Forest on Sunday at noon. Wake Forest won last year’s national championship over Ohio State. This season, Ohio State defeated them in the regular season, knocking them down from No. 1 to No. 2 in the Oracle/ITA rankings.
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