Men's Tennis Progresses to AAC Semis With 4-3 Win Over South Florida


ORLANDO, Fla. – It was yet another thrilling rendition of the War on I-4 as the three-seeded UCF men's tennis team bested sixth-seeded South Florida, 4-3, to advance to the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. Following the Knights first-round exit to the Bulls last season, the squad completed the season sweep in a tightly contested quarterfinal matchup as it all came down to Yassine Dlimi's victory on court three. UCF will be back in the semifinals for the first time since it won the tournament two years ago as they will face Tulane at 12 p.m. at the USTA National Campus

"We had a good match today and played very well in doubles, one of our better performances of the year," said head coach John Roddick following the first-round win. "The guys battled hard, none of these wins are easy and today we went out and played the way we practiced."

Dlimi and Bogdan Pavel have been at the center of the Knights strong performances down the stretch of the regular season. Today was another showcase of the talent that both possess as the senior defeated USF's Davide Tortora in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5. The freshman then clinched the match for the Black and Gold after bouncing back from a tough first set to defeat Erik Grevelius, 0-6, 6-4, 6-4. With all eyes on the young Moroccan, Dlimi kept his cool en route to his fifth consecutive win, extending his unbeaten streak to an incredible 10 matches.

Mehdi Benchakroun secured the Knights first court in singles as he bested South Florida's Elijah Cham on five in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5. The Moroccan got revenge following his defeat to Cham in Tampa earlier this month, as Benchakroun was able to swing the momentum back in UCF's court following the Bulls taking courts two and four.

The Knights found their stride in doubles down the stretch and today, it was more of the same, as UCF got on the board with a dominant display. On court one, the 26th-ranked duo of Pavel and Cronje broke serve early on and never looked back, taking the match, 6-3. While Dlimi and Llanes were locked in a close tie on two, Cooper White, playing in his first match in nearly a month, battled back with Paul Colin on court three after falling down, 0-2. The freshman tandem found momentum quickly though as they clinched the doubles point, 6-3. Unlike the Knights win in Tampa two weeks ago, the Black and Gold were able to get on the front foot this afternoon, which proved to be crucial heading into a contested singles duel.

The two-seeded Green Wave will meet the Knights in the AAC semifinals following their 4-3 victory over the seven seed, Wichita State. Earlier this month, UCF swept Tulane during a midweek matchup at the USTA National Campus, which in turn sparked the Knights current five-match winning streak. Along with UCF's match with Tulane at noon, fourth-seeded SMU will be taking on one-seeded Memphis to see who will play in Sunday's Championship.

Singles Results (2, 4, 5, 1, 6, 3)
1. #85 Bogdan Pavel (UCF) def. #114 Davide Tortora (USF) 6-4, 7-5
2. Alvin Tudorica (USF) def. Lleyton Cronje (UCF) 6-4, 6-1
3. Yassine Dlimi (UCF) def. Erik Grevelius (USF) 0-6, 6-4, 6-4
4. Oliveira Bruno (USF) def. #112 Liam Branger (UCF) 6-2, 6-2
5. Mehdi Benchakroun (UCF) def. Elijah Cham (USF) 6-1, 7-5
6. Thomas Pavlekovich-Smith (USF) def. Francisco Llanes (UCF) 7-5, 7-6(7-4)

Doubles Results (1, 3)
1. #26 Bogdan Pavel/Lleyton Cronje (UCF) def. #87 Erik Grevelius/Alvin Tudorica (USF) 6-3
2. Yassine Dlimi/Francisco LLanes (UCF) vs. Bruno Oliveira/David Tortora (USF) 5-5, unfinished
3. Cooper White/Paul Colin (UCF) def. Thomas Pavlekovich/Samuel Frizelle (USF) 6-4