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No. 23 Women's Tennis Travels to Oklahoma for ITA Kickoff Weekend

by Logan Hasselbach
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ORLANDO – Fresh off a dominant opening weekend performance, the No. 23 UCF women’s tennis team travels to Norman, Oklahoma, to compete at the ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Knights will go head-to-head with 16th-ranked Oklahoma Saturday, Jan. 24 at 11 a.m. ET and No. 19 Cal or Illinois on Sunday. The team looks to make history during its first road test of the season by earning a bid to the ITA National Indoor Championships. A pair of wins this weekend would punch UCF’s first-ever ticket to the championships.

The Black and Gold started their season with a bang on Jan. 20, sweeping No. 20 Georgia Tech 4-0 at the USTA National Campus. The Yellow Jackets defeated UCF twice during the 2023 season, but the squad seemed to forget the history between the two, claiming the victory in timely fashion. The Knights earned the doubles point thanks to a 6-2 win from Jantje Tilbuerger and Olivia Lincer on court two and a 6-4 victory from Jaleesa Leslie and Sophia Biolay at position three. Tilbuerger won the first singles point of the 2024 campaign in a commanding 6-0, 6-0 decision at court three. Noel Saidenova picked up the third point of the afternoon at court four, a victory that extended her singles win streak to eight matches, dating back to the Big 12 Fall Invite Nov. 9. Leslie followed up shortly after to clinch the clean sweep for the Knights with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph. Although her singles match went unfinished, Lincer had a stellar opening match as a member of the Black and Gold, just five points away from defeating No. 107 Carol Lee at the top court (6-2, 5-5, unf) before the match was clinched by Leslie.

The Sooners started off their season with back-to-back wins in an opening-day doubleheader, picking up 6-1 victories over both Wichita State and Wyoming. The second weekend of the season for Oklahoma was less kind, as they fell to both No. 4 Michigan and No. 14 Ohio State in close matches, 4-3. The Oklahoma squad boasts four ranked singles and two ranked doubles tandems. The 16th-, 37th-, 72nd-, and 112th-ranked singles players call Norman home, as well as the second- and 34th-ranked doubles pairings.

This will be the first time the teams meet as conference opponents, with Oklahoma holding the all-time series lead 5-1. The Knights and Sooners play once more this season Mar. 15 at the USTA National Campus during the second homestand of conference play.

Depending upon Saturday’s results, the Knights will take on either No. 19 Cal or Illinois on Sunday. Cal will look to open its dual-match season at the ITA Kickoff Weekend with its three ranked singles players - No. 12 Hannah Viller Moeller, No. 17 Jessica Alsola and No. 39 Katja Wiersholm – and ranked doubles tandem of No. 15 Viller Moeller and Mao Mushika. The Bears won their first and only ITA National Indoors Championship in 2016. A meeting between the two would be the first in program history. Illinois has had a strong start to its season, going 3-1 in its opening four matches. The only loss the Fighting Illini have suffered was to No. 15 Duke, 4-2, last Saturday. The team features the 57th-ranked duo of Katherine Duong and Megan Heuser, who advanced to the ITA National Fall Championships round of 32 in November.