Women's Tennis Prepped for Road Trip to Cincinnati, West Virginia

by Logan Hasselbach

ORLANDO – The UCF women’s tennis team hits the road this weekend, traveling north to Cincinnati Friday afternoon and West Virginia Sunday morning. The match against the Bearcats is slated to kick off at noon and first serve against the Mountaineers is scheduled for 11 a.m.


In the penultimate homestand of the 2024 dual-match season, the Knights dropped to both ranked opponents at the USTA National Campus. The squad was swept by then-No. 7 Texas, 4-0, but narrowly dropped to then-No. 21 Oklahoma, 4-3. UCF went down 3-0 early against the Sooners, before picking up three consecutive singles courts to tie the match at three points apiece. Sophia Biolay picked up another straight-set victory against a ranked opponent, this time a 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 72 Alina Shcherbinina at court three. Jantje Tilbuerger earned a 6-2, 7-5 win over Chloe Noel at court four to give the Knights their second point of the evening. Anique Kattenberg defeated Ava Catanzarite 6-3, 6-1 at court five, bringing it all down to court two, where Noel Saidenova forced a third set against No. 33 Julia Garcia Ruiz. The third set went in the way of the Sooners to clinch the match for OU at position two.


Biolay went 1-1 on the weekend in singles, shifting her Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles ranking to No. 119. The junior defeated the 72nd-ranked singles player from No. 21 Oklahoma in straight sets Friday night but fell to the unranked player from Texas Sunday afternoon.


Last week, head coach Bryan Koniecko announced that Donatella Guarnieri and Anya Ambarish would be joining the roster from the club team for the remainder of the 2024 season. The two additions are both sophomores, with two years of experience as members of the club tennis team. Guarnieri and Ambarish made their Black and Gold debut as doubles partners against No. 21 Oklahoma Friday evening. Guarnieri played doubles with Olivia Lincer Sunday and earned her first collegiate win in the form of the 6-4 victory at court three. The sophomore played singles at court six in both matches but fell in both contests.


Cincinnati owns a 6-7 record in the 2024 dual-matches season, dropping all five conference matches it has played. It most recently fell to West Virginia in Morgantown, W.V., 7-0, after defeating Dayton two days prior in Dayton, Ohio, 5-2, in a midweek matchup. The Bearcats were also swept by TCU in their Big 12 opening weekend, a team that the Knights defeated 4-3 for their first Big 12 win.

Sophomore Rozalia Gruszczynska leads the squad in singles, playing at court one for the majority of the season and boasts a 7-5 record in singles play. Doubles partners Morgan Pyrz and Sakurako Watanabe own a 6-2 record in doubles play, with an undefeated 2-0 mark at court two and a reliable 4-2 record at court three.

The Bearcats are coached by Eric Toth, who is entering his 10th season at the helm. The UC graduate has compiled a combined 97-87 record during both the fall and spring seasons. The 2024 dual-matches season marks the Bearcats first season as a member of the Big 12 Conference, having joined after leaving the American Athletic Conference in July 2023. The Knights own the all-time record 2-1 against the Bearcats.


West Virginia is 12-5 on the 2024 season with a 1-4 record in conference play. The Mountaineers earned their first Big 12 win this past weekend, sweeping Cincinnati 7-0 at home. The win was just their third conference win in program history and saw Maja Dodik move to 11-4 on the season in singles play. Momoko Nagato has also earned double-digit singles wins with a 10-4 record. Dodik and doubles partner Maya Bourdereau eclipsed 10 wins as a tandem with the 6-4 win at court two against Cincinnati.

Other notable wins for the season include a 4-3 victory over Virginia Tech and a 5-2 victory over Indiana. Prior to sweeping Cincinnati, the Mountaineers had picked up just one singles point in Big 12 play, a straight-set victory from Tatiana Lipatova at court six against Zdena Safarova of Oklahoma. WVU has been swept in all other conference matches this season.

Head coach Miha Lisac has led WVU for eleven seasons and has a 79-123 record as the leader. The Mountaineers have not had a winning season since 2020 when they were 7-3. The 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.