TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The No. 23 UCF women’s tennis team defeated the No. 37 Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 4-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. UCF will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season.
“I thought we played a good doubles point on all courts,” said head coach Bryan Koniecko, “Bama had a great year in the SEC and we knew they were going to be tough. We played really well against them at their place the first time. I thought we competed very well on all courts today, stayed focused and extended leads when we got them.”
Today’s win set a new program record for total wins in a season. The Knights topped 22 wins for the first time in their 41 seasons of existence as the Black and Gold picked up win No. 23 of the 2019 campaign.
The Knights picked up their fourth consecutive sweep of the season. After blanking Memphis, Tulsa and USF in the American Athletic Conference tournament, UCF swept Alabama to send the Black and Gold to the second round of the tournament. The shutout now makes it 18 consecutive points won. The last time that UCF blanked four straight opponents was all the way back in 1998 when UCF routed McNeese State and South Alabama 9-0 before sweeping through Samford, the College of Charleston and Georgia State by scores of 5-0 to win the 1998 A-Sun championship.
The first point of the match didn’t come easy though as the Knights had to battle the entire way through the doubles segment. The first court to go to UCF was court two as Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel topped Luca Fabian and Jacqueline Pelletier 6-2. Stolmar and Mattel have now won seven consecutive matches and have been victorious in nine of their last ten.
UCF sealed the doubles point on court one where No. 26 Valeriya Zeleva and Ksenia Kuznetsova picked up win No. 13 at the top doubles spot. They edged Andie Daniell and Moka Ito 6-4 to give the Knights the early advantage in the match. Court three went unfinished as Natalia Serrano and Domenika Turkovic were leading Ann Selim and Alba Cortina Pou 5-4.
Singles play started well for the Knights as they won five of the six first sets. Once the Knights got going in their second sets, the winning courts finished their matches within roughly five minutes of each other to clinch the match.
Finishing first was Stolmar on court three where she defeated Pou 6-3, 6-1. Stolmar notched her fifteenth win of the spring and twenty-second of the 2018-2019 campaign. This mark ties her for sixth place on UCF’s single season wins list.
No. 82 Kuznetsova won her match moments after Stolmar, defeating Ito in a close first set before dominating in set two, winning 6-4, 6-0. The win was Kuznetsova’s fifteenth in the spring and twenty-fifth overall in the 2018-2019 season, moving her into a tie for third place with Caroline Eberhart on UCF’s single season wins list. A win in tomorrow’s match would put her in a four-way tie for second place.
Clinching the match was Nandini Sharma on court six as she triumphed over Selim in identical sets, 6-2, 6-2. Sharma has posted a 17-3 record so far this season.
Going unfinished were courts one, four and five. No. 40 Zeleva was battling No. 36 Daniell at the top singles spot. Daniell took the first set 6-3 while Zeleva was poised to win the second set as she led 5-4. Mattel topped Pelletier in the first set 6-3 but was trailing 3-4 in set number two. Serrano won her first set over Fabian on court five and was tied at 2-2 when the match was clinched in the second set.
UCF's win over Alabama was the second time they have defeated the Crimson Tide. The Knights topped Alabama at their place by a score of 6-1 earlier in February. The all-time series between UCF and Alabama is now tied at 2-2.
The Knights will face the No. 11 Florida State Seminoles in the second round of the NCAA tournament at 5 p.m. tomorrow in Tallahassee. The winner will advance to the sweet 16. The two have already faced each other this season, with FSU defeating UCF by a score of 5-2 in the third match of the season.
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