EVANSTON, Ill. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 22 UCF women’s Tennis team went down to the wire with the No. 20 Northwestern Wildcats but fell 4-3 to open ITA Kickoff Weekend.
"The match was there for the taking for us and we just couldn't come up with a few points on the road," said head coach Bryan Koniecko, "We competed better than we did last week which was a positive but we still need to do the right things everyday if we want it to swing in our favor. We will have another top 25 match up tomorrow and have to get up and be ready to go."
Doubles action saw the Knights take court one with ease as Ksenia Kuznetsova and Valeryia Zeleva defeated Clarissa Hand and Lee Or 6-2. This duo for the Black and Gold has not lost a doubles match yet in their four matches. Courts two and three saw closer contests as Julie Byrne and Hannah McColgan barely bested Marie Mattel and Natalia Serrano 7-5. Moments later, court three finished in favor of Northwestern after a tough back in forth battle. Rebeka Stolmar and Domenika Turkovic fell just short against Rheeya Doshi and Caroline Pozo by a count of 7-5 to give Northwestern the doubles point.
Zeleva got the Knights right back in the match with her fourth singles win of the season. She defeated Hand at the No. 1 spot 6-2, 6-0 to tie the match at 1-1. The Black and Gold kept the ball rolling with another statement win, this time coming from court six. Nandini Sharma took down Caroline Pozo 6-2, 6-0.
Northwestern knotted the match up at 2-2 as Or bested Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2. The Knights would rebound though and take a 3-2 lead when Mattel clinched the third point on court four. She defeated Inci Ogut 7-5, 6-1 to give UCF the slight edge. With her victory, Mattel moves to a perfect 4-0 to start her collegiate career.
The final two courts remaining were forced into three sets. Northwestern again pulled even in the match as they Domenika Turkovic was defeated by Rheeya Doshi 6-1, 4-6, 1-6. With the final court as the deciding factor, the Wildcats took the match with a win on court number two where Stolmar was edged by Byrne 6-2, 2-6, 0-6
The Knights await the winner of the No. 17 Miami vs. No. 23 Tulsa match to determine who they play at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Both potential matchups hold interesting narratives. If the Black and Gold were to face Miami, it would be a rematch of the second round of the NCAA tournament. If UCF were to face Tulsa, it would be an early start to the American Athletic Conference slate.