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Men's Tennis Announces the Signings of Adriano Dzhenev and Walid Ahouda

by Alex Clough

ORLANDO – UCF head coach Lloyd Bruce-Burgess has announced two signings ahead of both his first season at the helm and the program’s inaugural campaign as a member of the Big 12 Conference. Alongside assistant coach Kareem Allaf, the UCF men's tennis team has inked two promising players to complement a youthful, yet poised squad for the coming seasons. The current group, composed of eight international players, will add Walid Ahouda of Morocco and Adriano Dzhenev of Bulgaria. Both rising stars in their respective regions, Ahouda and Dzhenev have multiple professional titles to their names and will add talent and versatility to the Knights.

A native of Haskovo, Bulgaria, Dzhenev will arrive in Orlando as the highest-ranked International Tennis Federation junior player in program history. In April of this year, he climbed to 13th in the world following a dominating performance at the J200 Haskovo, defeating some of the world’s best and rising stars en route to the junior crown. The future Knight didn’t drop a set over the five-day event, besting three opponents to qualify for the main draw before winning five matches in a row to claim the title.

We are excited to welcome Adriano to our team. Adriano has had an exceptional junior career, highlighted by his career-high ranking of #13 in the world. He brings a wealth of experience from playing in high stakes matches, which will be invaluable as he competes in a college tennis environment.

Lloyd Bruce-Burgess

Dzhenev has impressed across the world, making appearances in three Junior Grand Slam events. In January at the Australian Open Junior Championships, he defeated American Kaylan Bigun in the first round, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7), before advancing to the round of 16 with a straight-set triumph over Serbia’s Zoran Ludoski, 7-5, 7-6 (6). He continued his strong year with another round of 16 run at the Roland Garros Junior Championships in early June.

 In 2022, his first full season among the top ITF juniors in Bulgaria, he won the doubles title at the JA Merida tournament alongside Iliyan Radulov. He claimed his first juniors title at the J2 Novi Sad in Serbia following a straight-set victory over his doubles partner and Bulgaria native Radulov. With a career-high ATP world singles ranking of 1390, Dzhenev is expected to arrive at UCF in the fall of 2024.

Both friend and teammate of current Knights Yassine Dlimi and Mehdi Benchakroun, Ahouda hails from Casablanca, and will join his fellow Moroccans in Orlando this spring. Another promising ITF junior player (no comma) boasting a career-high world ranking of 73, he’s advanced to the finals of the J2 Cairo in Egypt, defeating four opponents including Japan’s Lennon Roark Jones, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(1).

We are thrilled to announce Walid Ahouda to our team, marking him as the third Moroccan to join our ranks. He will be partnering with his Davis Cup teammates, Mehdi Benchkroun and Yasine Dlimi. Walid’s career has been impressive thus far, and we are eager to contribute to his further development.

Lloyd Bruce-Burgess

Ahouda holds a career-high ATP world ranking of 1043 following a strong 2023. At the M15 Rabat in June, the Moroccan upset Romania’s Filip Cristian Jianu, who was ranked No. 307 in the world at the time, in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. Over four professional tournaments during the summer, Ahouda showed his bright future with victories over four opponents ranked within the top-1000 in the world rankings.

Alongside Dlimi, the duo has represented Morocco at the previous two Davis Cups.