Knights Pick Up Massive Win at Florida Atlantic

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The UCF men's tennis team came out victorious against Florida Atlantic Friday afternoon, earning a 5-2 victory to give the squad a crucial win at the midway point of the season. Though the Knights dropped the doubles point, they took courts one through three along with Liam Branger's win on court five to seal the victory. The Owls were on the brink of pushing the match into a third-set dual before the Black and Gold clinched the match with two massive tiebreak triumphs.

"The guys played really well in singles," said head coach John Roddick on the match. "We battled hard and played well when it mattered."

After a difficult start to his collegiate career, Yassine Dlimi has found his stride, having won three consecutive matches. After a pair of wins last weekend, including a ranked win against Florida State, the Moroccan took care of business quickly, defeating Florida Atlantic's Filip Krolo, 6-1, 6-3. One of the Knights' top recruits before the season, Dlimi is starting to put the pieces together on court three with his third win at the spot.

Following the first point on court three, Mehdi Benchakroun couldn't bounce back after a tough first set, dropping the second and the match, 6-2, 6-4. The Knights swiftly leveled the match once again after Bogdan Pavel returned to the win column following his two-set victory on court one over Kevin Huempfner, 6-2, 7-5. The second set was a back-and-forth battle, as Pavel trailed 5-4 but the senior fought back to take the set and the match to earn his team-leading fifth win of the season.

It looked like courts two and five were going the distance with Lleyton Cronje and Liam Branger down after taking set one. Though Pavel's win seemed to shift the momentum as Branger and Cronje pushed their sets to a tiebreak with match point on the horizon. The Frenchman was able to win his second tiebreak to take his match against Joao Graca, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in straight sets. It's the first straight-set victory for Branger in his collegiate career and it came at the most crucial point in the match, as seconds later Cronje was able to make the Knights triumphant. The senior won a back-and-forth tiebreak to take court two against Nicolas Acevedo, 7-5, 7-6 (7). Francisco Llanes dominated in his third set, giving the Knights their fifth point against Hunter Robbins, 7-5, 0-6, 6-1.

The Knights weren't able to find the match's first point in doubles, dropping the first two courts. The duo of Cronje/Pavel were in a tight duel on court one before falling short just minutes after Dlimi/Branger lost their tie on court two.

Today's win was a crucial result for the squad who showed fight and spirit throughout. The victory serves as a building block heading into the toughest stretch of the season with a trip to Oklahoma State and SMU on deck, followed by a home stretch that includes matches with No. 4 Ohio State and No. 2 Texas.

UCF 5, Florida Atlantic 2
Singles competition
1. Bogdan Pavel (UCF) def. Huempfner, Kevin (FAU) 6-2, 7-5
2. Lleyton Cronje (UCF) def. Acevedo, Nicolas (FAU) 7-5, 7-6 (9-7)
3. Yassine Dlimi (UCF) def. Krolo, Filip (FAU) 6-1, 6-3
4. Graca, Joao (FAU) def. Mehdi Benchakroun (UCF) 6-2, 6-4
5. Liam Branger (UCF) def. Alv Fernandez Horta (FAU) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5)
6. Francisco Llanes (UCF) def. Robbins, Hunter (FAU) 7-5, 0-6, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. Acevedo, Nicolas/Huempfner, Kevin (FAU) def. Lleyton Cronje/Bogdan Pavel (UCF) 6-4
2. Krolo, Filip/Graca, Joao (FAU) def. Liam Branger/Yassine Dlimi (UCF) 6-2
3. Alv Fernandez Horta/Robbins, Hunter (FAU) vs. Mehdi Benchakroun/Francisco Llanes (UCF) 4-4, unfinished

Match Notes:
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (3,4,1,5,2,6)