#9 UCF's Season Ends in NCAA Second Round

Box Score (PDF)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The No. 9 nationally seeded, 10th ranked UCF men's tennis team saw its season come to an end as they fell to 16th ranked Mississippi State 4-2 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon.

"We got a little unlucky to not win at least one of those close first sets; we lost two breakers and two 7-5's," said Director of Tennis John Roddick. "I felt like we played at a pretty good level so you'd like to think you deserve one or two of those. Those just didn't go our way today unfortunately. We did a great job fighting back to put two matches into the third set to keep ourselves alive and give us a chance to win the match. We competed really hard and that's all you really want. We missed on some execution, but we followed our gameplans and competed really hard. Sometimes that's all you can do; I'm really proud of them."

The match started out with an intense doubles segment that saw every court go into a tiebreaker. Court two was the first to finish as Gabriel Decamps and Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi topped Davide Tortora and Nemanja Malesevic 7-6 (7-2). The Bulldogs answered on court one as No. 15 Florian Broska and Gregor Ramskogler edged No. 5 Trey Hilderbrand and Bogdan Pavel 7-6 (7-3). The doubles point boiled down to court three where Kento Yamada and Alan Rubio were victorious by a count of 7-6 (7-2).

Singles was just as intense as doubles was, with multiple courts needing more than the typical six games to decide first sets. Two courts went to the tiebreaking session and another two were 7-5 decisions, but in the end, Mississippi State took five of six first frames.

The Bulldogs were the first to get on the board in singles as No. 48 Broska beat Rubio 6-1, 6-2 on court two.

UCF struck back on court four as Yamada earned his first win over a ranked opponent this season, defeating No. 121 Alberto Colas 6-1, 6-3. The Kentucky transfer shone bright in his first season with the Knights, posting a record of 18-1 in singles.

Mississippi State added to their total as they added two courts within moments of each other. Mikhail Sokolovskiy was beat by Ramskogler 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 on court six just before No. 93 Grassi Mazzuchi fell to No. 53 Malesevic by a count of 7-5, 7-5 on court three.

Hilderbrand and No. 9 Decamps were the two Knights left standing and worked their way back into their matches after dropping their first sets, forcing final frames.

No. 9 Decamps and No. 20 Oradini were on serve in their match at the top singles spot but were unable to finish as their final scoreline reads 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 2-2.

Court five was the deciding factor as Carles Hernandez edged Trey Hilderbrand 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2, snapping his 11-match winning streak and bringing UCF's 2021 campaign to a close.

The Black and Gold's season was one to remember and was arguably one of, if not the best campaigns in program history. The Knights finish with a record of 22-4, achieving their highest win total since before they were a Division I program, earning a record of 22-6 in 1978. This was one of three seasons that UCF had totaled 22 or more victories and one of six instances where the team collected 20 or more. A dozen of UCF's 22 wins were over ranked opponents and 14 of their victories were consecutive, leading them into the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. The team also achieved their highest ranking in program history, bursting into the top 10 as high as No. 9. The Knights were champions of The American for the first time as well as they hoisted the trophy over rival South Florida after a 4-0 sweep.

"I told the team in the locker room that we have a lot to be proud of this year. It's been a tough year and they put in a lot of work even when there was nothing to play for. Teams like that had a fall, we didn't even have a fall. Those are tough things to overcome as the season goes on where guys play all these tough matches and some don't. Our guys persevered when there wasn't a lot to play for and they worked really hard. From that standpoint, you couldn't be prouder. We left a lot of blood and sweat on those practice courts in the fall with nothing to play for, which is one of the hardest things in sports to do."

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