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Men's Tennis Set for NCAA First Round Tilt vs. No. 23 Florida in Tallahassee – UCF Athletics

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With each step in the Knights' first Big 12 campaign, the team shifts into new gear, and with the program's seventh all-time NCAA Tournament appearance looming, there's no better time than this.

After a dominant regular season performance with 18 wins and the fourth-best record in the conference, the UCF men's tennis team faces a familiar opponent. For the third time and first since 2005, the Knights will travel all over Florida for the 24th meeting between Florida's two powerhouses.

For the Gators (13-11, 6-6), their first season under head coach Adam Steinberg was full of ups and downs, although they hit form late and picked up four wins from their last six in the regular season.

With a second matchup on the horizon, UCF (18-5, 4-3) has a plethora of back-and-forth battles to contend with before Friday's game. The Knights won the doubles in the regular season finale scored quickly against TCU and finally fought until the end against the second-placed Horned Frogs. In the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, the Knights came close to erasing a three-nil deficit before falling to the Cowboys 4-2.

Knight personalities

  • Bruce-Burgess posted several program bests in his first season, most notably a 14-1 record in 15 games, the strongest start to a season in UCF history. Now approaching his first NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach, the England native will look to become the first coach to advance past the first round in his first year.
  • Seven of the eight Knights competing in 2024 have won a match, with seven having more than one. Mehdi Benchakroun's four wins mark the most, led by UCF's first win in the Big 12 against Baylor in March.
  • The Knights were dominant on the back three lines, holding an overall record of 45-10 from fourth through sixth. UCF is 16-1 at fourth place and 13-1 at fifth place And 15-1 in sixth place.
  • Since taking third place, Paul Colin has never lost and has two wins against BYU and TCU. Of the Knights who have played at least 10 games, the St. Barts native has the best win percentage (10-1 | 91%). Colin has an impressive record of 11-1 in the second set this season and has yet to lose a third (3-0).

The opponent

The Gators secured their 41st NCAA Tournament bid after Steinberg's first season at Realm in Gainesville, becoming the third head coach in Florida history to accomplish the feat. Now, three years after the National Championship in 2021, a new guard leads the team, led by No. 50 Jeremy Jin, who has a 9-9 singles record so far.

Once again the doubles point will be hotly contested as the Gators field two ranked tandems led by No. 27 Nate Bonetto and Aidan Kim and No. 81 Tanapatt Nirundorn and Adhithya Ganesan. The former are tied for first at 8- 8 despite losing each of their SEC tournament contests.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Florida's strong individual performance led to a first-round victory over Vanderbilt before ultimately falling to No. 6 Tennessee, 4-0. A season ago, the Gators lost to Oklahoma State in the first round, their first exit in that stretch since 2015.

With a permanent coach, Bryan Shelton, Steinberg brings years of collegiate experience to the Orange and Blue. The Penn State graduate, who was an NCAA champion at Pepperdine in 2006, led another Big 10 program, Michigan, to seven NCAA Tournament appearances before being named Florida's 11th head coach in program history.

Anna Harden

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