LOS ANGELES – The UCF men's tennis team started ITA Kickoff Weekend with a thrilling 4-3 win over the No. 24 San Diego Toreros. The match saw each team capitalize on momentum swings, but in the end, the Knights prevailed for their first win over a ranked opponent in 2020.
"We competed really well today," said UCF Director of Tennis John Roddick, "We gave ourselves a lot of chances and converted. Gabe was terrific at the top singles spot and Bogdan did a great job mentally to close it out."
Momentum shifted back and forth in the doubles segment. San Diego struck first as Joel Gamerov and August Holmgren notched a 6-2 victory over Bogdan Pavel and Trey Hilderbrand on court one. UCF answered with a win on court three where JanMagnus Johnson and Alan Rubio topped David Norfeldt and Sacchit Sharrma by a score of 6-2. The doubles segment came down to court two, where the Torero duo of Nico Borter and Gui Osrio edged No. 6 Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi 7-5.
The Knights came out hungry in singles play after surrendering the doubles point, winning four of the first six sets.
No. 22 Decamps was on cruise control from the start of singles, winning 6-0, 6-0 at the top spot in the lineup over San Diego's No. 30 Gui Osorio.
San Diego answered in a hurry, as Holmgren edged No. 29 Grassi Mazzuchi 7-5, 7-5 on court two to give the Toreros a 2-1 edge.
The back and forth battle continued as it was UCF to collect the next point. Johnson went on to defeat Norfeldt on court five by a count of 6-3, 6-3. Moments later, Mikhail Sokolovskiy followed suit, topping Borter 6-3, 6-4 at the No. 6 singles position. Sokolovskiy's first win of the season put the Black and Gold in front 3-2.
San Diego won an intense battle on court three as Gamerov beat Rubio in three sets 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-4.
The match came down to court four, where No. 108 Pavel was fighting back from a first set loss against Sharrma. After falling 4-6 in the first frame, Pavel clawed his way back with a 6-4 win of his own in the second set. The third set started out even, with each side winning two games. Pavel jumped in front 4-2 before seeing Sharrma rally back to tie the match at 5-5. Pavel won the 5-5 deuce point and went on to clinch the match with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 result.
The victory advances the Knights to the final of their ITA Kickoff Weekend bracket. A win on Sunday will advance UCF to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The Black and Gold move to 1-0 all-time against San Diego, having just played them for the first time in program history.
The Knights will face either the No. 10 UCLA Bruins or the San Diego State Aztecs in the final of their ITA Kickoff Weekend region. UCF will square off with the winner on Sunday at 4:30 p.m ET for the right to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. The Bruins earned the right to host ITA Kickoff Weekend for their final Oracle/ITA ranking last season.
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