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Miami Falls to No. 18 UCF, 4-3

CORAL GABLES, Fla. –  Playing its first match in 336 days, the University of Miami men’s tennis team battled the 18th-ranked UCF Knights to the final point Sunday afternoon, but ultimately came up short, 4-3.

Miami (0-1) dropped three of the first four points at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center before tying the match, however the Hurricanes could not claw all the way back.

“First of all, it is just super exciting to be back out here, competing again,” Miami head coach Aljosa Piric said. “We are just thankful for the opportunity to play.

“As far as the match, this is the first match that we have played in almost a year. We didn’t compete as a team last semester and some of the guys were not even able to be here in Miami. So, we literally had guys who we had not even seen play in a match, before today,” Piric continued. “So, given everything this year has held, I am very pleased with the fight and just the overall attitude. It came down to the wire against a very good UCF team. Credit to them, it is hard to come to Miami and beat us here, but they came out and were a little bit better than us down the stretch. So, we have to give them credit. Overall, it is a positive step in the right direction for us.”

UCF (2-1) took the early advantage in doubles, claiming two of the three courts. First, Gabriel Decamps and Trey Hilderbrand bested No. 22 Franco Aubone and Benjamin Hannestad, 6-4.

The Canes than evened the match with a victory on court 2, as Stefan Milicevic and Adria Soriano Barrera topped Juan Pablo Mazzuchi and Bogdan Pavel, 6-4.

In the deciding doubles match, Bojan Jankulovski and Patrick Sebastian fell against Alan Rubio and Mikhail Sokolovskiy, 3-6.

In singles, the Knights quickly doubled their lead when Hilderbrand defeated Milicevic, 6-2, 6-2.

Meanwhile, on court 1, a pair of top-40 singles players faced off, with Soriano Barrera making quick work of the nation’s 16th-ranked student-athlete, Decamps.

Holding the No. 34 position in the preseason poll, the Barcelona, Spain, native cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 triumph, pulling Miami back within a point in the overall match.

Facing No. 52 Juan Pablo Mazzuchi, Hannestad could not pull away, ultimately falling 4-6, 5-7.

Trailing 3-1 in the overall match, Miami began to mount a comeback, beginning with a victory on court 5.

Facing Pavel, Aubone regrouped from an opening set loss, 2-6, to claim Miami’s second point of the match, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Moments later, Jankulovski took care of business against Rubio, 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.

With all eyes on court 6, Vasser rebounded from an opening set defeat and forced a third, but was not able to hold on. The junior fell, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, against Sokolovskiy, as the Knights secured the team victory.

Up next, the Hurricanes will play back-to-back neutral site matches, taking on Auburn (Feb. 13) and Tulane (Feb. 14) in Tallahassee, Fla.