Knights Win First American Conference Title

Box Score (PDF)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 11 UCF men's tennis team earned its first title as part of the American Athletic Conference and its fourth in program history as they swept No. 29 South Florida 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.

"It felt great," said Director of Tennis John Roddick. "It's been a hard road for these guys. Last year we were kind of nudging into position to be a favorite to win and then the pandemic came and didn't get a chance at it. When you skip a season in which you were doing a lot of things well and then you just stop and come back next year it feels like a really long time. I know for them, they're very excited, and I'm excited for them. There have been a lot of downs and now we're starting to have a lot of ups on this team. These guys have persevered like no other team I've worked with.

The match started with a tough doubles segment. No. 13 Trey Hilderbrand and Bogdan Pavel earned a pair of early breaks on their way to a 6-3 victory on court one over Chase Ferguson and Ivan Yatsuk. South Florida struck back on court two as Rithvik Bollipalli and Manuel Goncalves edged Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi 6-4. Doubles was decided on court three where Alan Rubio smashed an ace to seal the deal as he and Kento Yamada pulled to a 6-3 win over Antonio Muniz-Hidalg and Sergio Gomez Montesa.

UCF earned each first set in singles as they were well on their way to a victory.

The three courts that ended up clinching all reached four games won in their sets at roughly the same time, setting up for an exciting finish to see who would earn the clinching point.

Mikahil Sokolovskiy finished first cruising past Goncalves 6-2, 6-0 on court six. He was followed up by a No. 90 Grassi Mazzuchi victory on court three where he topped Muniz-Hidalg 6-2, 6-2. Hilderbrand earned the clinching point over Gomez Montesa on court five 6-3, 6-4 and the party was on in Orlando. The victory was Hilderbrand's 10th in a row.

Grassi Mazzuchi was named as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player as he went 2-0 in singles and 1-1 in doubles.

The victory is UCF's 13th straight this season, propelling them to a record of 21-3. They've won 19 of their last 20 matches. This Knights team is just the sixth in the program's 50-year history to eclipse the 20-win mark.

The Black and Gold dethroned the Bulls as defending champions after they upset the Knights in 2019. UCF had been to two of the past three title matches prior to this season, falling each time to South Florida.

The Knights got the best of the Bulls three times this season. They beat South Florida in January by a count of 6-1 and turned around and beat them again on April 3 by a count of 4-3 on the road.

UCF made their way through the six other teams that made The American Championship this regular season, going 7-0. The Knights are unbeaten in 11 tries against American competition in the regular season over the last three campaigns.

The conference title is the fourth in team history and the first since 2005. UCF won three straight titles from 2003-2005 as part of the ASUN. The 2003 team achieved a 20-4 record that season and was the last team to eclipse that mark. With Saturday's win, the Knights have earned the conference's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament. It will be the team's sixth NCAA Tournament appearance. The selection show for the big dance will take place on May 3 on

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