Knights Fall to Illinois on the Road

URBANA, Ill. – The UCF men's tennis team fell to Illinois on the first night of its weekend road trip, 5-2. After dropping the doubles point, the Knights were unable to regain momentum to secure the four singles points needed to take the match.
"We battled hard after a slow start," said UCF head coach John Roddick. "It was good to see Liam [Branger] get a win tonight. He did a great job staying in there mentally. Bogdan [Pavel] also did a nice job of finishing today. [He] has turned into a great competitor."
The Black and Gold (1-4) found difficulty in doubles, unable to find the upper hand on courts two and three. The Knights fell short on four of the singles courts as well, with the Fighting Illini (7-4) taking courts one, four and six to clinch the win in singles. After the match was clinched, the coaches decided to play out the remaining courts. Lleyton Cronje faced off against No. 125 Hunter Heck on court three, his second time facing a ranked opponent this season. After winning the first set, Cronje dropped the second and the super tiebreaker, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 10-3.
Bogdan Pavel found success on court two, going head-to-head with Karlis Ozolins. Ozolins took the first set, but Pavel battled back to win both the second set and the super tiebreaker to get the Knights on the scoreboard with a 3-6, 7-6 (2), 10-7.
Freshman Liam Branger secured his first singles win of the season on court five, dueling against Oliver Okonkwo. Branger had a tough first set but fought back to take the match and give the Knights their second point of the night, 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1.
UCF will close out the weekend on Sunday at noon, when it takes on Nebraska for the first time in program history.

Illinois 5, UCF 2
Singles competition
1. Alex Petrov (ILL) def. Yassine Dlimi (UCF) 6-1, 6-2
2. Bogdan Pavel (UCF) def. Karlis Ozolins (ILL) 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 10-7
3. Hunter Heck (ILL) def. Lleyton Cronje (UCF) 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 10-3
4. William Mroz (ILL) def. Mehdi Benchakroun (UCF) 6-2, 6-2
5. Liam Branger (UCF) def. Oliver Okonkwo (ILL) 0-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
6. Nic Meister (ILL) def. Paul Colin (UCF) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2)
Doubles competition
1. Mathis Debru/Oliver Okonkwo (ILL) vs. Bogdan Pavel/Lleyton Cronje (UCF) 4-4, unfinished
2. Karlis Ozolins/Hunter Heck (ILL) def. Yassine Dlimi/Mehdi Benchakroun (UCF) 6-3
3. Lucas Horve/Gabrielius Guzauskas (ILL) def. Luca Hotze/Liam Branger (UCF) 6-1
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (4,1,6,2,5,3)
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