Men's Tennis Meets South Florida in First Round of AAC Tournament

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After a strong conclusion to the regular season, the No. 48 UCF men's tennis team has earned the No. 3 seed in the 2023 American Athletic Conference Tournament and will face off against the sixth seed, No. 57 South Florida, in the quarterfinals. The match is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Friday and will take place at the USTA National Campus, the host site for this year's Championships.

After a slow start to the year, UCF finished the regular season on a four-match win streak, bringing their record to 10-11. The Knights were able to defeat three ranked AAC opponents during the stretch, which include No. 43 Tulane, No. 57 South Florida, and No. 53 Tulsa, respectively.

In singles competition, No. 85 Bogdan Pavel led the way for the Knights this season on court one, finishing with an impressive career-high 11 wins. Freshman Liam Branger also finished the year ranked, coming in at No. 112 with a record of 9-6. Another standout freshman, Yassine Dlimi, won six straight matches to end the regular season with a 9-6 record, along with the Knights sole AAC Player of the Week honor.

In doubles competition, the senior duo of Pavel and Lleyton Cronje rose through the rankings to end the regular season at the No. 26 spot. After initially starting off the season as the No. 28 ranked duo, Pavel and Cronje fell to No. 76, before finding their rhythm and winning six of their last eight matchups.

 No. 57 USF is entering the playoffs on a three-match losing streak. The Bulls (12-12) lost these three matchups to AAC competition, which included a 4-3 defeat to UCF in Tampa.
USF features one ranked player in singles competition, No. 114 Davide Tortora. Tortora had a 10-9 record on the season. In his last matchup against the Knights, Bogdan Pavel defeated Tortora, 6-2, 6-4. In doubles, Erik Grevelius and Alvin Tudorica came in at No. 87 in the rankings. The duo (9-2) was able to defeat Pavel and Lleyton Cronje in their last meeting, 7-6, (8-6).

Friday's tilt won't be the first time these two teams have faced each other in the conference tournament. In the 2019 and 2021 seasons, the Knights and Bulls competed in the championship match for the AAC title. Although South Florida won the 2019 title, 4-3, the Knights were able to capture the 2021 championship, shutting out the Bulls, 4-0. In last year's Quarterfinals, the Bulls won a hard-fought matchup against the Knights, 4-3.

The semifinal matches will both take place at noon on Saturday, preceding Sunday's AAC Championship, also set for a noon start.