ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 13 UCF men's tennis team earned a thrilling 4-3 victory over No. 14 Wake Forest on Wednesday evening as Gabriel Decamps won a three-set battle as the last court standing. The Knights have won five straight matches, all against ranked opposition.
"I knew Wake Forest was really good in singles and I think both teams knew the doubles point was going to be pretty big today," said Director of Tennis John Roddick. "We've played really well in the last three doubles segments. I'm proud of what we did at one and two and we were on serve at three. That kind of got things rolling. In singles, we were fighting from a hole the whole time, they were all over us for most of the match. This team has been building towards that and have been competing better and better and have gotten over that hump as far as learning how to compete. Win or lose this match, I was happy with how we competed."
The match had many ups and downs to it, but it was the Knights who started out on a high note. UCF made the doubles point look easy as No. 29 Trey Hilderbrand and Bogdan Pavel disposed of Wake Forest's duo of No. 13 Henri Squire and Eduardo Nava quickly, besting them 6-2. Hilderbrand and Pavel move to 3-0 this season as a tandem with all their wins over ranked opponents. The Knights locked up the doubles point on court two as Decamps and Juan Pablo Grazzi Mazzuchi earned a 6-3 win over Melios Efstathiou and Taha Baadi.
The Demon Deacons retaliated immediately, taking five of six first sets. They quickly added a point to the board as No. 52 Nava beat Alan Rubio 6-0, 6-1 to even the match.
The momentum for Wake Forest kept rolling as they collected court four next as Rrezart Cungu topped Kento Yamada 6-4, 6-1, snapping his perfect start as a Knight. Yamada was 11-0 entering the match and now sits with a 5-1 mark at the No. 4 singles spot.
Another point was added by the Demon Deacons on court six as Mikhail Sokolovskiy was edged by Siddhant Banthia 6-3, 6-4. Wake Forest was one point away from clinching the match and snapping UCF's winning streak.
There was no quit from the Knights, as Trey Hilderbrand retaliated with a hard fought 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory on court five over Efstathiou. Hilderbrand has won four straight matches and moves to 4-1 at the No. 5 spot in singles.
The match still hung in the balance after Hilderbrand's win cut the deficit to 3-2. Decamps pushed through his second set tiebreaker to force a third frame, forcing the final two matches to got the distance.
While Decamps began his final set, No. 124 Grassi Mazzuchi was finishing his, triumphing over Baadi in a dominant third set 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-0. Grassi Mazzuchi is a winner of four straight and moves to 10-4 this season.
The match rested in the hands of No. 4 Decamps who was in the midst of a battle with No. 13 Squire, which started out as a tight final frame. Each of them held serve, but after that, it was all Decamps from there. He earned a tough 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory, extending his winning streak to 13. Decamps has been solid all season, bumping his record up to 15-1, including a 7-1 mark against ranked opponents. He's up to 67 career singles victories, sitting alone in fifth place on UCF's career singles wins list, just behind Sokolovskiy's 70 wins.
The Knights had been close to beating Wake Forest over the past two seasons and finally broke through. Wednesday's match marked the first time UCF had beaten the Demon Deacons since 1983, before the Black and Gold were a Division I program.
The victory is UCF's fifth straight, all over ranked opponents. In total, the Knights are 5-3 over teams ranked in the Oracle/ITA top 50. They've faced a total of nine straight teams either in the top 50 or receiving votes, with more lined up on the schedule this weekend.
This was the Knights' first top 15 matchup in program history. Before this week, UCF had never been ranked or played a match as a top 15 team in the country. It was a monumental win, handing Wake Forest just their fifth loss in 26 matches this season. What may be even more remarkable about the defeat of the Demon Deacons is that they had only lost five matches on the road since the beginning of the 2017 dual match season, entering the match with a 32-5 record away from their home in Winston-Salem, N.C.
UCF jumps back into conference play as they travel to No. 37 South Florida to wrap up the in-season home-and-home between War On I-4 foes. That match goes down on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. as the Knights look to sweep the season series.
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