Men's Tennis Picks Up First Win of the Season

ORLANDO – The UCF men's tennis team brought home its first victory of the season, 5-2, Sunday afternoon against Georgia Southern at the USTA National Campus. The Knights took four of six courts in singles, with two freshmen gaining their first singles victories with the program.

The Eagles gave the Knights a stiff fight throughout, with four of the six singles matches decided in three sets.

"They're a good team, so our guys knew that they were going to put up a battle. Overall, we responded well and got through the match," said UCF head coach John Roddick.

If there was one match that represented UCF's day, it was Lleyton Cronje's back-and-forth match on court one with Georgia Southern's Pol del Castillo. Cronje dropped the first set and was on the brink of defeat in the second, but fended off a match point and from there, the South African took control of the match. He leveled it and finished it off with the rest of the team looking on, winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"Having all of the energy from the guys and the crowd meant a lot for me, that pushed me through," said Cronje.

Bogdan Pavel had a perfect weekend, taking his second singles match in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3. The Romanian was clinical in all aspects, not giving Paliouras Dimitris any chance at gaining momentum. The two freshmen, Mehdi Benchakroun and Luca Hotze were crucial in clinching the win for the Knights before Cronje finished up on court one. Benchakroun dropped the first set, similar to his defeat last night, yet battled back again and took the match to three sets, clinching his first dual win with the UCF, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Hotze brushed off his defeat last night and gave an outstanding showing, winning in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4. He took the tight nit first set just as things were starting to turn around for the Knights, a massive boost that pushed the team over the edge. Quinn Snyder and Paul Colin both took their opening sets but couldn't find the final product, losing in three.

It was the polar opposite in doubles for the Knights this afternoon as opposed to yesterday, with the Black and Gold taking the point swiftly. The duo of Hotze and Snyder secured UCF the upper hand, 6-3, seconds before Benchakroun and Colin gave the Knights their first doubles point of the season, 6-4. The 28th-ranked pairing of Cronje and Pavel was neck and neck with del Castillo and Judson Blair before their match went unfinished. It was yet another promising result on the day, with two new duos finding their first collegiate wins together.

The Black and Gold will now move their sights toward Columbus, Ohio, for the ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Knights will take on the hosts, No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday, before a meeting with either Tulsa or Oregon to finish off the month.

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