UCF Trio Advances to Sweet 16 of NCAA Individuals

2021 NCAA Men's Singles Draw 2021 NCAA Men's Doubles Draw

ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 9 nationally seeded, tenth ranked UCF men's tennis team saw their trio of Knights in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships advance to the Sweet 16 on Monday afternoon. No. 8 nationally seeded Gabriel Decamps was victorious in straight sets and is the first Knight in program history to punch his ticket to the round of sixteen. No. 5, 5-8 nationally seeded Bogdan Pavel and Trey Hilderbrand tallied a three-set victory in their first match of the tournament in a come from behind effort.

"It was great to get two wins today," said Director of Tennis John Roddick. "Trey and Bogdan did a good job of getting through a tough match. Things didn't go their way much, but they stayed alive and closed it at the end. Gabe played one of his better matches all year. He was very focused from start to finish."

Decamps was locked in from the moment the first serve went up as he quickly earned a pair of breaks to go up 5-0 in the first set over Florida's No. 18 Andy Andrade. Decamps eventually went on to win the first frame by a count of 6-1. The second set saw Andrade push back and jump out to a 3-1 edge but Decamps was able to work his way back into the stanza to win in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.

"It feels great to get the win," said Decamps. "It was very hot today, so the less time you spend on the court the better. Obviously, every player here is among the best in the country so every match is going to be hard. I'm just trying to focus on myself and see what I can do."

Decamps continues to smash UCF records as he becomes the first Knight to reach the NCAA Singles Championships Round of 16. Korey Lovett was the first Knight to win a match in the singles draw in 2017 but ran into the No. 1 national seed in the round of 32 and fell in straight sets. Decamps and Lovett are the only UCF players to qualify for the singles postseason tournament.

"It honestly feels amazing [to be the first Knight to advance to the singles Sweet 16]," said Decamps. "I've been working very hard for those big moments. I'm just enjoying every match, taking it step by step and point by point. Overall, very happy how I competed today."

As Decamps was wrapping up his second set, Pavel and Hilderbrand were getting started in their first. The opening set was a tough one as Alabama's No. 23 Patrick Kaukovalta and Riccardo Roberto were victorious by a count of 6-2.

The UCF duo earned the first break of the second set to go up 5-4 after eight games of both sides holding serve. Alabama broke back to level the set at 5-5 before the stanza got pushed into a tiebreaker. Pavel and Hilderbrand jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker and never looked back, going on to win the second set 7-6 (7-4).

The third set was played as a super tiebreaker and saw both sides even at 3-3 and 6-6 at the changeovers. The Crimson Tide duo earned the next two points out of the changeover, taking an 8-6 lead. The Black and Gold tandem showed no quit, winning the next four points to advance to the round of 16 with a final score of 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 10-8.

"It felt really good to get the win," said Hilderbrand. "That team was playing really well. We weren't playing our best and they were really taking it to us. We fought really hard and found a way to win. We did a really good job competing and staying in it the whole match. We got a few lucky breaks in the third and ended up pulling through."

Pavel and Hilderbrand secured their first NCAA individual tournament victory in their second attempt after falling in their round of 32 matchup in 2019 in the super tiebreak. They nearly beat the No. 1 overall seed that season, falling 4-6, 7-6, 11-9. Determined to advance, they made sure it wasn't a repeat of their freshman campaign.

"It felt great to get the win," said Pavel. "We've been waiting for this for like two years; since our freshman year. We weren't feeling great when we went down early but we dug out of it. To be able to get the win in the match breaker was great. There were a lot of ups and a lot of downs, it was like a little roller coaster. We're happy that we managed to pull through in the end."

Pavel and Hilderbrand are the second Knight duo to qualify for the NCAA Doubles Championships. Both them and Lovett/Eero Vasa have reached the round of 16. The 2018 UCF tandem was also placed as a No. 5-8 national seed; they saw their run come to an end in the round of 16 to a UCLA pair by a count of 7-5, 3-6.

All three Knights are back in action tomorrow in the round of 16. Decamps will resume his journey through the NCAA Singles Championships at noon as he faces TCU's No. 17 Luc Fomba, who is tabbed as a No. 9-16 national seed.

Pavel and Hilderbrand will look to become the first UCF pair to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Doubles Championship as they'll face South Alabama's No. 44 Loic Cloes and Clement Marzol at 6 p.m. Pavel and Hilderbrand have seen this duo once before, beating them 7-5 back on March 18 of 2019.

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