University of Florida women’s tennis student-athletes McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein posted a 6-1, 6-3 victory Monday evening at the USTA National Campus, advancing ahead to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Doubles Championship.
No. 7 Kessler and Zein raced out to an early lead and never looked back as they dispatched Neely and Simova of Louisville, the nation’s 13th-ranked squad. Picking up their sixth victory over a ranked foe and their third consecutive win, the Gator duo put together an impressive performance in their home state. Florida’s top tandem was met with some resistance in set two but earned a crucial break to put them ahead 4-3.
Securing a spot in the tournament’s final 16, the UF duo is set to take on the winner of the matchup between Sofia Munera and Natasha Subhash (Virginia) and Martina Okalova and Vera Ploner (Tulsa) Tuesday, with a first serve time still to be announced.
Improving to 12-6 in dual match play and 16-7 overall, Kessler and Zein converted on seven of their eight service points.
To begin the day in singles, Kessler saw her nine-match winning streak and tournament run come to a close with a 6-4, 6-4 setback to Kelly Chen of Duke. No. 8 Kessler built a 4-2 edge in the opening frame but could not hold off Chen’s comeback. In the second stanza, Kessler fought back from a 3-1 deficit but wasn’t able to break through.
Kessler finishes the season with an 18-3 overall record in singles and the Georgia native won nine of her final 10 matches to close out 2021. The three-time All-SEC selection racked up eight wins over ranked opponents this year and boasts a career record of 86-36.