TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 21 UCF women’s tennis team defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 6-1 on Friday night. This was the second consecutive power six victory for the Black and Gold as they handed Alabama their first loss of the season. Additionally, this was UCF's first ever victory over Alabama. The two schools had only met twice prior to Friday's showdown.
“We played a great match today and we were mentally ready to go,” said head coach Bryan Koniecko, “Starting the match outside and then going inside can take a toll mentally, but I thought we stayed focused and did our job. Getting six first sets in singles allows you to play much more relaxed as a team. We’ll celebrate this one tonight; Alabama is a great program that we have a lot of respect for.”
The match began with doubles play starting outdoors. However, due to weather concerns, the match was brought inside. At the time, the Knights were leading on two of the three doubles courts with one in a tie.
Moments after moving indoors, court three wrapped up with a Knights victory. Natalia Serrano and Domenika Turkovic downed Ann Selim and Kimberly Gintrand 6-2. The remaining two courts were down to the wire, but the first to finish was court two. Here, Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel defeated Alba Cortina Pou and Luca Fabian 6-4. With the doubles point clinched, court one remained unfinished as No. 16 Valeriya Zeleva and Ksenia Kuznetsova trailed 5-4 to Andie Daniell and Moka Ito.
UCF started out strong in singles play, with each Knight winning their first set. Mattel was the first to win a singles point for the Black and Gold as she defeated Fabian 6-3, 6-1 on court four. Mattel keeps the winning streak alive as she moves to a perfect 7-0 in singles play.
The momentum continued to roll for the Knights as Kuznetsova was the next to clinch to put UCF up 3-0. At the No. 2 spot, Kuznetsova beat Ito 6-4, 6-1.
Stolmar got the clincher for the Knights, as she bested Jacqueline Pelletier 6-1, 6-1 on court three. Minutes later, Nandini Sharma won her match over Selim 6-3, 6-1 at the No. 6 position.
The only blip in the radar came at court five, where Turkovic was narrowly edged by Pou 3-6, 6-3, 8-6. The last set was played as a tiebreaker since the match had already been clinched.
The final court to finish was court one, where No. 34 Zeleva bested No. 47 Daniell in three sets, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. The battle at the top spot began just before the match was clinched, therefore the third set was played out in its entirety. Zeleva also remains undefeated in singles play with a record of 7-0.
The Black and Gold will travel from Alabama to Ole Miss for Sunday’s matinee against the Rebels at noon. Ole Miss will come into the match with a 3-2 record on the season. After dropping two tough matches to open the season, the Rebels have won three in a row.
With less than two weeks until College Matchday, don’t miss an opportunity to see the Knights battle the No. 22 Florida Gators. Click here to claim your free ticket for the match on Feb. 24.
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