No. 19 Knights Fall Short at No. 24 Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 19 UCF women's tennis team battled hard but fell to No. 24 Tennessee 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Goodfriend Tennis Center.
The Knights weren't able to claim the doubles point, as Tennessee's duo of Elza Tomase and Catherine Aulia on court three took down Nandini Sharma and Sophia Biolay, 6-3, while court one saw similar results with the tandem of Marie Mattel and Noel Saidenova falling to Rebeka Mertena and Esther Adeshina, 6-4. On court two, UCF's Stefani Webb and Jantje Tilbuerger were knotted 4-4 with Elenora Molinaro and Daria Kuczer when the doubles point was clinched.
In singles play, the Knights got off to a hot start, winning set one on three different courts. On court one, ITA's 48th-ranked singles player Mattel took the first set against 65th-ranked Tomase, 6-3. Saidenova also took set one on court four against Adeshina, 6-3, while Biolay continued the hot start on court five, winning set one against Aulia 6-3 as well. 
The first court to finish singles play saw the Knights gain their first point of the afternoon with Mattel taking down Tomase in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Shortly after the Knights continued to gain momentum, when Saidenova claimed her victory against Adeshina 6-3, 6-4. With the Black and Gold leading in the match, 2-1, Webb forced a third set against the ITA's 24th-ranked singles player Mertena but came up short 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Tennessee tied the score at two apiece after Tilbuerger lost to No. 38 Kuczer on court three 6-3, 6-2.
The match came down to Biolay on court five and Sharma at six singles. Biolay battled in back-and-forth fashion through three sets, as well as a tiebreaker in the third, where she emerged victorious 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (9) to knot the overall match score at 3-3. 
Sharma was the last court standing, dueling against Molinaro. Sharma battled back to win the second set after dropping the first, forcing the match to a third and final set. Molinaro jumped out to a 5-2 lead, but Sharma didn't go down without a fight, knotting the set at 5-5. Battling hard to the end, Sharma fell to Molinaro 7-5 in the third set to seal the match for Tennessee.

#24 Tennessee 4, #19 UCF 3

Singles Competition
1. #48 Marie Mattel (UCF) def. #65 Elza Tomase (TENN) 6-3, 6-2
2. #24 Rebeka Mertena (TENN) def. Stefani Webb (UCF) 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
3. #38 Daria Kuczer (TENN) def. Jantje Tilbuerger (UCF) 6-3, 6-2
4. Noel Saidenova (UCF) def. Esther Adeshina (TENN) 6-3, 6-4
5. Sophia Biolay (UCF) def. Catherine Aulia (TENN) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (11-9)
6. Eleonora Molinaro (TENN) def. Nandini Sharma (UCF) 6-2, 5-7, 7-5
Doubles Competition
1. Rebeka Mertena/Esther Adeshina (TENN) def. Marie Mattel/Noel Saidenova (UCF) 6-4
2. Eleonora Molinaro/Daria Kuczer (TENN) vs. Stefani Webb/Jantje Tilbuerger (UCF) 4-4, unfinished
3. Elza Tomase/Catherine Aulia (TENN) def. Nandini Sharma/Sophia Biolay (UCF) 6-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (1,4,3,2,5,6)
The Knights will return home on Friday, Feb. 24 to take on future Big 12 opponent TCU. First serve is set for 5 p.m. and admission to the match at USTA National Campus is free.
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