ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF men's tennis team is set to embark on their 2020 campaign as they prepare for two matches this weekend. The Knights received votes in the Oracle/ITA preseason rankings after finishing the 2019 season ranked No. 31 in the nation. With everyone returning from last season's squad, the experience and chemistry has only grown.
The Knights will play 20 matches during their regular season, with nine of them at home at the USTA National Campus. UCF will be tested on the road this season, playing at least five ranked teams in the preseason poll on the road.
The Knights have the potential to play at least one opponent from each Power 6 conference. UCF will play two SEC teams, two ACC schools, one Big 10 opponent, one Big 12 team and an opportunity to play a Pac 12 team during ITA Kickoff Weekend, should the results shake out favorably. The Black and Gold will play four American Athletic Conference opponents, all of them on the road.
The Knights will visit their rivals, the South Florida Bulls on Easter Sunday at 1 p.m. to renew the annual War On I-4 series. Other in state opponents include No. 1 Florida (Jan 19), FAU (Feb. 29), Stetson (Mar. 1) and North Florida (Mar. 21).
The fall tournament season was a success for UCF, as many individuals performed at high levels throughout. Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi went toe to toe with some of the best doubles tandems in the country, beating most of them. In singles play, Decamps won five consecutive matches to end the fall as he was crowned the consolation champion at the ITA National Fall Championships. Grassi Mazzuchi also shone in singles. Bogdan Pavel and Mikhail Sokolovskiy found success this fall in both singles and doubles play as well.
The Knights have three singles players and one doubles team in the rankings heading into the 2020 season. Decamps headlines the bunch as he sits at No. 22 in singles. Just behind Decamps is Grassi Mazzuchi who checks in at No. 29 in the singles rankings. Rounding out the group in singles play is Pavel who is pegged at No. 108.
UCF's lone doubles tandem consists of Decamps and Grassi Mazzuchi, who come into the dual match season ranked No. 6 in the nation. The pair has gone 19-9 since they started playing together, including a 7-3 mark this fall. Last season's dynamic duo of Pavel and Trey Hilderbrand didn't see any action this fall, thus the reason they fell out of the rankings. They were tabbed as the nation's No. 3 pair heading into the fall.
The only roster change is the addition of blue-chip recruit JanMagnus Johnson. Other than that, everyone from last season's roster remains, with no seniors graduating. The same core of players has gotten the opportunity to grow, as a group of four freshmen and four sophomores from last year are now more experienced and hungry to compete at an even higher level.
The Knights will begin their season this weekend as they host Mercer on Friday at 5 p.m. The Bears are out to a 1-2 start after defeating Oral Roberts in their season opener before falling to Tulsa twice in a double header. UCF won't have another home match for 38 days following the Mercer match as they head to Gainesville for their first road match of the year.
The Black and Gold will have a chance to shock the college tennis world early in the season as they visit the No. 1 Florida Gators on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Gators started their season 2-0 after sweeping a double header against Furman and FAU but picked up a loss in their last match against the defending National Champions, the No. 2 Texas Longhorns. The Gators picked up the doubles point in that one but ended up falling 5-2 at home. Florida lost to Texas last season in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament by a count of 4-2.
|Mercer vs. (RV) UCF
January 17, 2020, 5:00 P.M.
WATCH | LIVE STATS
|(RV) UCF vs. #1 Florida
January 19, 2019, 1:00 P.M.
WATCH | LIVE STATS
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