Men's Tennis Welcomes Florida Atlantic for Thursday Evening Contest

by Alex Clough

ORLANDO – The homestand rolls on as the UCF Men’s Tennis team is set to host Florida Atlantic with the goal of continuing a historical commencement to the program’s first season in the Big 12. The Knights (5-0) welcome the Owls (6-2) for the sixth-consecutive season on Thursday evening for a 5 p.m. matchup at the USTA National Campus.

Under the guidance of first-year head coach Lloyd Bruce-Burgess, UCF has jumped out to a vibrant start through the early days of the 2024 slate. A doubleheader sweep over UNC Wilmington and Coastal Carolina to start the season, followed by three consecutive victories to open the first of three UCF homestands, has the Knights on the cusp of numerous historical feats.

UCF’s five wins to start a season mark the most of the century, not having attained the record since 1999 under then-first-year head coach Michael Dublin. In turn, Bruce-Burgess is looking to become the first coach in program history to begin his position 6-0.

Prior to the eventual 19-5 record of the 1999 squad, which included program legends such as Johan Westin who still holds the fourth-most singles wins in UCF history (71), the 1980 team, led by Henry Brandon, won its first six matches. With current records, UCF is on the verge of mirroring the early stages of a season 44 years ago.

On the court, the Knights’ early success has come through dominating singles performances throughout. Each student-athlete that has featured (eight) has gotten in the win column, including No. 100 Lleyton Cronje and No. 120 Mehdi Benchakroun who are both out to 5-0 starts.

A 25-2 margin in singles through five contests is the best stretch throughout any five-match stretch since 2021 when the Knights went 27-1 through five duels. The Knights secured two convincing wins on courts two and three in doubles against FGCU, winning the doubles point for the first time this season.


The first singles/doubles rankings of the 2024 dual-match season were released Wednesday afternoon and three Knights featured among the top players in the nation.

Cronje, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on January 23, checked back in at No. 100 following his great start. The South African was joined by Benchakroun who slotted in at No. 120 following his first inclusion on the list in preseason.

The reigning ITA Southeast Regional Doubles Champions, Cronje and Santiago Giamichelle, were ranked 32nd following a 2-2 start on court one.

Two future opponents both made jumps in the team poll, as TCU, whom the Knights will conclude the regular season with when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas, on April 13, rose to No. 2, just one spot ahead of Texas. The Longhorns, ranked third, will welcome UCF to the Big 12 in Austin, on March 22.


FAU is fresh off its inaugural match as a member of the American Athletic Conference, a 5-2 defeat to Charlotte last Saturday. The Owls still remain in a good position, holding a 6-2 record through the first month of the 2024 season.

They booked their place on ITA Kickoff Weekend a season ago and advanced to the finals of the Charlottesville regional after a 4-3 triumph over Penn. FAU was swept in the finals by the reigning 2022 and 2023 NCAA Champions, Virginia, 4-0, but still battled throughout.

UCF holds a 32-9 advantage over the Owls all-time and a six-match winning streak dating back to 2017. A season ago, the Knights bested FAU in Boca Raton, 5-2, as Cronje clinched the contest with a 7-5, 7-6(7), triumph on court two.

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