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UF Women’s Tennis: Kessler and Zein Come Up Short in NCAA Round of 16

Florida’s top doubles team, Kessler and Zein, finished the season with a 16-8 record and appeared in seven sets of the ITA rankings.
Photo By: Jessica Seldner

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY SAM STOLTE

Women’s tennis student-athletes McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein fall in postseason doubles action

University of Florida women’s tennis doubles tandem McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein saw their 2021 season come to a close Tuesday evening as the pair dropped a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 decision to Sofia Munera and Natasha Subhash of Virginia at the NCAA Individual Championships at the USTA’s National Campus.
 
Battling the nation’s 17th-ranked doubles team, Florida’s duo mounted a comeback in the second set but couldn’t break through in the NCAA doubles championship’s round of 16.
 
Squaring off against a ranked opponent for the 15th time, No. 7 Kessler and Zein secured a 4-3 lead in the second stanza after trailing early but were not able to hold on against the Cavalier tandem which won for the 13th time this year.
 
The senior Kessler and junior Zein combined to form Florida’s top doubles unit all season long and concluded the 2020-21 slate with a 16-8 overall mark and a 12-7 record in dual match play. Kessler and Zein, who at one point won nine consecutive matches, appeared in all seven of the issued ITA doubles rankings and rose to as high as No. 2 in the nation in the March 24 and March 30 polls.
 
Both Kessler and Zein received all-conference recognition from the SEC this season.
 
With the defeat, the Gators’ 2020-21 campaign concludes, as the duo was Florida’s final entry remaining in the NCAA Individual Championships. The Gators finished the team portion of the dual match season with a 13-8 record and qualified for their 33rd straight NCAA Tournament. UF, pegged No. 12 in the most recent ITA rankings, hosted the NCAA Tournament’s first and second rounds for the 20th time in a possible 21 tournaments since the field expanded to 64 in 1999. 

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