Men's Tennis Defeats South Florida 4-3 in War on I-4 Duel

Final Box

TAMPA, Fla. – It was a thrilling win for the No. 57 UCF men's team Friday afternoon as they defeated No. 53 South Florida in the War on I-4, 4-3. The more than four-hour-long match was concluded on court four as Liam Branger won an incredible duel with Bruno Oliveira, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (8-6). The victory is the Knights eighth of the season and fourth over a ranked opponent as they gear up for the AAC Championships.

"Proud of the guys today, we battled hard and competed to the end," said head coach John Roddick, who has yet to lose against South Florida in Tampa. "Great to see Liam come through at the end. One, two, and three singles played at a high-level today and put us in a position to win."

It was yet another masterclass from the Knights front three as Bogdan Pavel, Lleyton Cronje and Yassine Dlimi took courts one through three in straight sets. 98th-ranked Pavel was feeling it throughout, taking the first set convincingly, 6-2, before winning his fourth match in five in the second set, 6-4. On two, Cronje finished the job just before his fellow doubles partner as he gave the Knights their first point of the match. After an even first set saw Cronje and South Florida's Erik Grevelius level at 3-3, the senior took control from there on out, winning the set, 6-3, before sweeping the second, 6-0. The South African has now won five consecutive matches, falling in line with Pavel as the duo is playing their best tennis down the stretch.

Dlimi too is playing with confidence as he won court three in commanding fashion, 6-4, 6-2. The Moroccan has found his place on three, winning his fifth match from sixth. Both Mehdi Benchakroun and Toto Llanes battled throughout on five and six but fell in straight sets.

It was an almost hour-long duel for the match's first point as the Bulls were able to clinch on court three. After losing court two, 3-6, the Knights were looking to bounce back as the 26th-ranked duo of Cronje and Pavel were in a tiebreak along with Branger and Colin. Though the French tandem fell just short, losing the tiebreak, 6-8.

The Knights will return to USTA for their final match of the season against #59 Tulsa. Senior Day Ceremonies will begin just before the Noon match time. 

Singles competition (2, 3, 1, 5, 6, 4)
1. #98 Bogdan Pavel (UCF) def. #118 Davide Tortora (USFM) 6-2, 6-4 
2. Lleyton Cronje (UCF) def. Erik Grevelius (USFM) 6-3, 6-0 
3. Yassine Dlimi (UCF) def. Alvin Tudorica (USFM) 6-4, 6-2 
4. #115 Liam Branger (UCF) def. Bruno Oliveira (USFM) 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (8-6) 
5. Elijah Cham (USFM) def. Mehdi Benchakroun (UCF) 6-4, 6-3 
6. Thomas Pavlekovich-S (USFM) def. Francisco Llanes (UCF) 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)

Doubles competition (2, 3, 1)
1. Erik Grevelius/Alvin Tudorica (USFM) def. #26 Lleyton Cronje/Bogdan Pavel (UCF) 7-6 (8-6) 
2. Bruno Oliveira/Davide Tortora (USFM) def. Yassine Dlimi/Francisco Llanes (UCF) 6-3 
3. Thomas Pavlekovich-S/Samuel Frizelle (USFM) def. Paul Colin/Liam Branger (UCF) 7-6 (8-6)