ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 28 UCF men’s tennis team shutout the No. 5 seeded Wichita State Shockers 4-0 to advance to American Athletic Conference championship match. This will be UCF’s second appearance in the championship match in the past three seasons.
“It was a tough doubles point with the two breakers in the end, thankfully we only needed one of them,” said Director of Tennis John Roddick, “We got it and then going into singles we’ve been playing well, we’ve been off to good starts in singles. Getting the doubles point always makes it a little easier because the guys don’t have as far to go.”
The doubles point was tight from the start, as two of the three courts saw the score tied for the majority of the match. The other court was a quick one, as Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi overtook Andrea Caligiana and Orel Ovil 6-1 to gain the early doubles advantage.
That was the lone court to finish for a while, as the two remaining courts both entered into tiebreakers. It was No. 16 Bogdan Pavel and Trey Hilderbrand to clinch the doubles point for the Knights as they defeated No. 25 Marius Frosa and Murkel Dellien 7-6 (7-5). The win gives UCF’s top duo eight consecutive victories, a 7-1 record against ranked opponents, and a 14-3 record overall. Court three went unfinished as Manoel Alencar and Alan Rubio were trailing Stefan Latinovic and Haru Inoue 6-6 (3-5).
The Knights won five of the first six sets, with the only loss coming on court one. That didn’t deter UCF from keeping their sweep and point streaks alive, as Mikhail Sokolovskiy picked up the first singles win of the day on court six, winning 6-1, 6-3 over Latinovic. The win puts Sokolovskiy at a record of 28-9 on the 2018-2019 campaign, moving him into a tie for third place on the single season wins list with Doug Baxter, who set that record back in 1977. Sokolovskiy has a singles record of 14-6 this spring.
Finishing just moments later was Grassi Mazzuchi on court five as he topped Ovil 6-3, 6-1. Grassi Mazzuchi has won four straight singles matches to pull to a 9-7 record in the spring.
UCF locked up their fifth consecutive sweep on court three where Pavel defeated Frosa 6-3, 6-3. That left three courts unfinished as courts one, two, and four were unable to complete their matches. No. 35 Decamps dropped the first set 4-6 to Inoue but led the second set 4-2. Rubio won a tough first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (9-7) and led set two 1-0. Hilderbrand also prevailed in a lengthy first set, topping Stoica 7-5 before Stoica led the second set 4-5.
With the victory, the Knights pick up their fifteenth win of the season. Eleven of those wins have been sweeps. UCF had a streak of five consecutive sweeps earlier in the season before that was broken with a 4-3 win. On top of the sweep streak, the Knights have won 23 consecutive points and 33 of their last 38.
The last and only time the Knights were in the AAC championship match was in 2017, the first year under the tenure of Roddick. In the match, the Knights fell to the USF Bulls. UCF will get it’s shot at revenge tomorrow as the two will meet in the title match for the second time in three seasons. The Knights will look to win their first conference championship since they were in the A-Sun and won three in a row, spanning from 2003-2005.
Saturday’s meeting between the Knights and Wichita State was the first ever between the two schools.
The Knights will play for their first American Athletic Conference championship in the conference’s six seasons of existence. They will face their rival, the USF Bulls, who are seeking their fifth AAC title. The match takes place at 1 p.m. at the UCF Collegiate Tennis Center at the USTA national Campus. The match will be broadcasted on The American Digital Network.
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