ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 28 men’s tennis team outlasted the ninth seeded SMU Mustangs by a score of 4-0. The match took over five hours and saw three rain delays and two different venues. UCF earned their fourth consecutive shutout and their tenth on the season to advance to the American Athletic Conference Quarterfinals.
“I thought we started out rough in the doubles point, I don’t think we really came out ready,” said Director of Tennis John Roddick, “We responded well after the rain delay. We did a nice job in singles of winning a few tough first sets on two and three and got nice leads there, and five and six we took care of business. All in all, it’s a good 4-0 win.”
It was a marathon of a day for both teams. The Knights were scheduled to start their match against SMU at 11 a.m. Due to the length of another tournament match before the Knights began their match, UCF and SMU didn’t get underway until 12:35.
SMU came out strong in doubles, leading on all courts. 10 minutes later, a heavy shower lasting for roughly two minutes sent the players for cover. The rain subsided and the courts dried in another 10 minutes, allowing the doubles point to resume.
From this point, the Knights were unstoppable. Court one had swung from 1-4 down to 4-4, court two went from down 1-2 to up 4-2 and court three was in full control. The energy was flowing through the Knights on all courts.
The first doubles court to finish was court two, where Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi triumphed over Carlos Sarrio and Huntley Allen 6-2. Alan Rubio and Manoel Alencar would lock up the doubles point on court three as they topped Roberto Rosales and Gardiner Perotti 6-3. Court one went unfinished as No. 16 Bogdan Pavel and Trey Hilderbrand were trailing Tomas Vaise and Jan-Simon Vrbsky 5-6.
As soon as doubles play wrapped up, the skies opened up again, this time raining harder and longer. At the time, it was decided that the remainder of UCF’s match would have to be played indoors. However, the Knights couldn’t continue their match inside right away. The other quarterfinal match was further along, so they were permitted to finish indoors first.
While UCF was waiting, the skies cleared up for the moment and after an hour and forty-five minutes, the first serve in singles went up. It wasn’t long before the rain returned and sent the Knights indoors as some first sets were nearing their conclusion.
Grassi Mazzuchi was the only player to complete his first set before the teams moved indoors. He rode that momentum to pick up the first singles victory of the match, topping Allen 6-1, 6-2.
Finishing just moments after was Mikhail Sokolovskiy on court six. He defeated Perotti 6-1, 6-0 to pick up his twenty-seventh win of the 2018-2019 campaign. This moves him into sole possession of fourth place on the single season wins list for UCF. He surpassed Toby Crabel who had 26 wins back in 1977. Sokolovskiy needs one more win to tie Doug Baxter for third place with 28 wins, also a record set back in 1977.
It would be a race to see who would get the final point for UCF. Rubio and Pavel were in positions to clinch the match for the Black and Gold. In the end, it was Rubio who bested Vrbsky on court two 7-5, 6-3 to send the Knights to the semifinals.
Courts one, three, and four would go unfinished. No. 35 Decamps was on top of No. 69 Sarrio on court one 6-2, 1-6, 3-1 at the time the match was clinched. On court three, Pavel was close to defeating Rosales 6-4, 5-4. Hilderbrand fought through a tough tiebreaker to win the second set; his match with Vaise on court two will remain at 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 1-1.
UCF will take on Wichita State for the first time in program history. That match will take place tomorrow at 1 p.m. The winner will advance to the American Athletic Conference tournament championship match.
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