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Everything You Need To Know About the 2024 UCF Men’s Tennis Team

New Coach. New Conference. Still a young squad.

The UCF Knights Men’s Tennis team is one of several teams that will be undergoing not just a change in conference, but a change in head coach as well.

As last year’s large crop of freshmen develop into sophomores, new head coach Lloyd Bruce-Burgess will lead them into competition against a deep Big 12 Conference.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Knights as they start their 2024 season:

How Dual-Match Tennis Works

The dual match begins with Doubles Play, in which there are three matches played between a pair of players from each team. Whichever school wins 2 out of the 3 Doubles matches gets 1 point.

After Doubles Play, six Singles Play matches are played between members of each school worth 1 point each.

The school with the most points after all the matches are played is the victor. However, it is not uncommon that the dual-match will end early once one team gets 4 points since it becomes mathematically impossible for the other team to come back.

Last Season

11-12 (5-1 AAC); Lost in AAC Semifinal to Tulane, 4-3

Despite suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2011-2012, the Knights rallied at the end. However, despite winning seven of their last nine matchups, UCF came just short of .500 and was thus ineligible for an NCAA Tournament bid.

It does give a young squad positive momentum going forward, though and Bogdan Pavel and Lleyton Cronje still cracked a bid for the NCAA Doubles Tournament.

This Season

Picked to finish tied for 6th in Big 12 Preseason Poll

The Knights remain a young squad, with all but one of their members being an underclassman. Throw in a sophomore transfer from UT Arlington that is already in a ranked doubles pair and UCF is poised to continue from where it left off at the end of last season.

The biggest question is will that positive momentum that was built from playing mostly AAC opponents translate to a new head coach and a Big 12 Conference schedule in which more than half the conference (five teams) made the NCAA Tournament last year?

Who’s in Charge

Lloyd Bruce-Burgess – 3rd season at UCF (1st as Men’s Team Head Coach)

Courtesy of UCF Athletics

Women’s Tennis head coach Bryan Koniecko hired Bruce-Burgess as an assistant for the women’s team back in July 2021.

In his two seasons on the women’s team, he helped the team reach the NCAA Tournament twice and, per his UCF bio, helped Marie Mattel reach the NCAA Singles Championship twice.

With Koniecko’s promotion to Director of Tennis over the summer after John Roddick’s departure, he tabbed Bruce-Burgess to take over the men’s team.

Bruce-Burgess, originally from Brockenhurst, England, said coaching college tennis was the reason he decided to stay in the United States upon graduating from Fresno Pacific University. However, he had to spend the next six and a half years working a full-time job with Genesis Health Clubs to obtain a visa and acquire a green card.

Upon doing so in 2019, at the age of 31, Bruce-Burgess quit his full-time job to become a volunteer assistant coach at South Florida, his first collegiate coaching job. He also had a year-and-a-half stint as an assistant coach for Iowa before arriving in Orlando.

“I guess if you work hard, sometimes you get lucky and that’s what happened to me,” Bruce-Burgess said. “I can’t really express in words how happy I was to get the job. So, I’m thrilled to have it and excited to get started on the season.”

Watch our team preview video with Coach Bruce-Burgess here:

Players to Watch

Lleyton Cronje

The native South African will take over as the new elder statesman of the team as its only upperclassman. He was named to the AAC’s All-Conference team in both Singles and Doubles Play. He also enters 2024 as one-half of the #20-ranked doubles pair in the nation.

Mehdi Benchakroun

Moroccan native Mehdi Benchakroun is entering the season ranked #95 in the nation in singles play. He went 9-10 in singles play in 2023.

Yassine Dlimi

While unranked by the ITA, last year’s AAC Freshman of the Year Yassine Dlimi broke out in his debut campaign in singles play, going 11-5. Since last season ended he also won a professional tournament in Casablanca, Morocco.

Who We’ll Miss

Bogdan Pavel

While mostly a standout doubles player, finishing his career with the most such wins in program history (73), Pavel broke out in singles play in 2023. He finished 13-5 in such matches, most of which were played on Court No. 1, where a team normally puts their best players.

Who’s New That’s Good

Santiago Giamichelle

Transferring from UT Arlington, Giamichelle is the defending WAC Freshman of the Year. He was also selected to the First Team All-WAC in singles play and Second Team All-WAC in doubles play.

He went 14-6 in dual-match singles play and 14-8 in dual-match doubles play in 2023. He has already made an impression with the Knights as one-half of the #20 ranked doubles pair in the country alongside Lleyton Cronje.

Roster Breakdown

  • 8 Sophomores
  • 1 Fifth-Year Senior
  • 1 Floridian
  • 8 International Players (Morocco, Spain, France, South Africa, Argentina, and Uruguay)

2024 UCF Men’s Tennis Roster

Name Year Hometown 2023 School Spring 2023 Stats
Name Year Hometown 2023 School Spring 2023 Stats
Walid Ahouda Fr. Casablanca, Morocco N/A
Mehdi Benchakroun So. Rabat, Morocco UCF Singles: 9-10, Doubles: 2-5
Liam Branger So. Bordeaux, France UCF Singles: 10-8, Doubles: 1-11
Paul Colin So. St. Barts, France UCF Singles: 0-5, Doubles: 5-8
Lleyton Cronje 5th Pretoria, South Africa UCF Singles: 8-11, Doubles: 11-7
Yassine Dlimi So. Casablanca, Morocco UCF Singles: 11-5, Doubles: 3-13
Santiago Giamichelle So. Buenos Aires, Argentina UT Arlington Singles: 14-6, Doubles: 14-8
Luca Hotze So. Miami Shores, FL UCF Singles: 1-2, Doubles: 1-3
Francisco Llanes So. Paysandú, Uruguay UCF Singles: 4-11, Doubles: 5-6
Emilio Sanchez So. Barcelona, Spain UCF Did not play in Spring
Simeon Terziev Fr. Sofia, Bulgaria N/A

Schedule Breakdown

UCF will be tested immediately with an NCAA Tournament team in UNC Wilmington at 10 a.m. to start the season and their second match hours later at 5 p.m. against Coastal Carolina. Following that trip, they will remain in the state of Florida for nine of their next 10 matches. Only one non-conference matchup is against a preseason Top 25 team, a Feb. 18 tilt with #23 Florida.

The Knights will bookend conference play with away matchups against Texas and TCU, ranked #3 and #4 in the Preseason Top 25, respectively. All three of their Big 12 road matchups are against Preseason Top 25 teams (Texas, TCU and Baylor), while only one Preseason Top 25 team (#22 Oklahoma) will visit the USTA National Campus during a four-match conference play home stand.

2024 UCF Men’s Tennis Schedule

Date Day H/A Time Opponent Preseason ITA Ranking UCF's Results LY 2023 Record Last Season
Date Day H/A Time Opponent Preseason ITA Ranking UCF's Results LY 2023 Record Last Season
Monday Jan. 15 Away 10 a.m. UNC Wilmington - - 17-8 Lost in NCAA 1st Round to Duke
Monday Jan. 15 Away 5 p.m. Coastal Carolina - - 10-13 Lost in Sun Belt 1st Round to Southern Miss
Saturday Jan. 20 Home 12 p.m. North Florida - Win, 5-2 16-7 Lost in ASUN Championship to FGCU
Saturday Jan. 27 Home 12 p.m. Georgia Southern - Win, 5-2 15-8 Lost in Sun Belt Quarterfinals to Troy
Thursday Feb. 8 Home 5 p.m. Florida Atlantic - Win, 5-2 13-11 Lost in CUSA Semifinals to UTSA
Sunday Feb. 11 Home 12 p.m. Miami (FL) - Lost, 4-0 15-10 Lost in ACC Quarterfinals to Virginia
Saturday Feb. 17 Away 12 p.m. Stetson - - 14-10 Lost in ASUN Quarterfinals to FGCU
Sunday Feb. 18 Away 3 p.m. Florida 23 Lost, 6-1 14-14 Lost in NCAA 1st Round to Oklahoma State
Sunday Feb. 25 Away 1 p.m. UAB - Win, 4-2 21-7 Lost in CUSA Semifinals to Middle Tennessee State
Friday Mar. 1 Home 5 p.m. South Florida - 2 Wins, 4-3 and 4-3 12-13 Lost in AAC Quarterfinals to UCF
Monday Mar. 4 Home 10 a.m. Penn - - 13-9 3rd in Ivy League
Tuesday Mar. 5 Home 12 p.m. South Alabama - - 17-8 Lost in Sun Belt Championship to Old Dominion
Friday Mar. 8 Away 1 p.m. Wichita State - Win, 6-1 11-16 Lost in AAC Quarterfinals to Tulane
Sunday Mar. 10 Away 1 p.m. Tulsa - Went 1-1, 1-4 and 4-2 11-13 Lost in AAC Quarterfinals to SMU
Thursday Mar. 14 Home 7 p.m. Southern Miss - - 8-15 Lost in Sun Belt Quarterfinals to South Alabama
Friday Mar. 22 Away 8 p.m. Texas 3 Lost, 4-3 26-4 Lost in NCAA Final Four to Virginia
Sunday Mar. 24 Away 2 p.m. Baylor 25 - 17-16 Lost in NCAA 1st Round to Florida State
Thursday Mar. 28 Home 7 p.m. Oklahoma State - Lost, 4-2 14-14 Lost in NCAA 2nd Round to Arizona
Saturday Mar. 30 Home 6 p.m. Oklahoma 22 - 15-12 Lost in NCAA 2nd Round to Georgia
Thursday Apr. 4 Home 6 p.m. Texas Tech - - 14-11 Lost in NCAA 1st Round to Louisville
Saturday Apr. 6 Home 6 p.m. BYU - - 6-16 Lost in WCC Semifinals to to Pepperdine
Saturday Apr. 13 Away 4 p.m. TCU 4 - 26-3 Lost in NCAA Final Four to Ohio State

Big 12 Conference Tournament

  • Hosted by Oklahoma State at Greenwood Tennis Center
  • Dates: April 19-21/22

The Last Time...

UCF won a conference tournament: 2021. It was the first time the Knights won a conference tournament since the three-peat of 2003-05.

UCF had three consecutive losing seasons: Never. The closest it’s been was a stretch from 2011-2013 in which the Knights went 8-14,10-13 and 10-10.

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