UF Women’s Tennis: Not the Gators’ Night Against No. 22 UCF

Courtesy of University Athletic Association


Women’s tennis falls 4-1 to visiting UCF Tuesday night in second meeting in 11 days between the programs

Final Results (PDF)

Squaring with No. 22 UCF for the second time in 11 days, the No. 21 University of Florida women’s tennis team dropped a 4-1 decision to the Knights Tuesday night at Linder Stadium at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.

Hoping to turn the tables after falling at UCF 4-3 on Jan. 29, Florida put together some strong performances across the courts but failed to secure the doubles point and the early singles matches as the Knights posted their third-straight win over the Gators.

Snapping a two-match skid, junior Sydney Berlin came through with a strong showing on court six, registering Florida’s lone point. Senior Ida Jarlskog, playing No. 3 for the first time this season, led 6-4, 5-2 but saw her matchup with No. 95 Evgeniya Levshova go unfinished after the Knights clinched the match on court one.

Freshman Sara Dahlstrom was also very much on her way to a victory but her match was halted at 0-6, 6-4, 4-0 when No. 42 Rebeka Stolmar put the finishing touches on a 7-5, 6-2 win over UF’s McCartney Kessler on court one.

UF dropped its third straight contest, marking just the fourth three-match losing streak in the history of the program.

After consecutive matches away from home, the Gators returned to their friendly confines only to see the Knights come out victorious with their fifth straight win overall.  

Taking on a UCF side which featured four ranked singles players and a pair of ranked doubles teams, Florida started off strong in doubles but couldn’t maintain the momentum as the Knights won on both courts two and three to kick off the action.

UCF opened doubles play with a 6-2 win on court two. Despite getting out to an early 2-1 edge, Jarlskog and Dahlstrom fell to No. 60 Zeleva and Kuznetsova. Just moments later on court one, No. 26 Kessler and Marlee Zein polished off an impressive win over No. 6 Stolmar and Marie Mattel. The Gator duo’s play was clinical as they got out to a 5-0 advantage and never looked back.

The doubles point would come down to court three, where after trailing 4-1, Berlin and freshman Amber McGinnis battled back to make it 4-3. Florida’s comeback bid would not fully materialize, though, as the match ended in a 6-3 score in favor of UCF’s Nadja Bay Christians and Evgeniya Levashova.

After some back-and-forth play, the Knights struck first with two singles victories. Zein, playing at Florida’s second spot for the first time this season, went toe-to-toe with No. 67 Valeriya Zeleva in the first set but fell short 6-4, 6-2 when it was all said and done. Soon after Ksenia Kuznetsova collected a 6-4, 6-2 win over McGinnis on court six to equip the Knights with a 3-0 lead. The rookie McGinnis jumped out to an early lead in the opening stanza, but the veteran Kuznetsova corralled the momentum and notched the win.

Facing a 3-1 deficit early in the first set, Berlin battled all the way back to win her opening stanza 6-4 and the following frame 6-1, getting the Gators on the board with a victory over Nandini Sharma.

Trailing 3-1 but leading on two of the three remaining courts, Florida would need a monster comeback from its top singles player, No. 32 Kessler, to keep its hopes alive. In a top 50 battle against No. 42 Stolmar, Kessler stormed back to tie things at 5-5 after trailing 4-1 in the first. Stolmar held off the charge, though, and recorded a 7-5 win in the opening set. In the second, Kessler faced an early deficit and was not able to overcome it as she fell 6-2 in what would be the night’s final result.

UF falls to 12-3 all time against UCF.

Florida faces a quick turnaround as it travels to USF Thursday, Feb. 11 for a 2 p.m. ET matchup with the Bulls in Tampa.

No. 22 UCF 4, No. 21 UF 1

Doubles Results
No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein (UF) def. No. 6 Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel, 6-2
No. 60 Valeriya Zeleva and Ksenia Kuznetsova def. Sara Dahlstrom and Ida Jarlskog (UF), 6-2
Evgeniya Levshova and Nadja Bay Christians def. Sydney Berlin and Amber McGinnis (UF), 6-3

Doubles order of finish: 2,1,3

Singles Results
No. 42 Rebeka Stolmar def. No. 32 McCartney Kessler (UF), 7-5, 6-2
No. 67 Valeriya Zeleva def. Marlee Zein (UF), 6-4, 6-2
Ida Jarlskog  (UF) vs. No. 95 Evgeniya Levshova, 6-4, 5-2 (Unfinished)
Sara Dahlstrom (UF) vs. Nadja Bay Christians, 0-6, 6-4, 4-0 (Unfinished)
Ksenia Kuznetsova def. Amber McGinnis (UF), 6-4, 6-1
Sydney Berlin (UF) def. Nandini Sharma, 6-4. 6-1

Singles order of finish: 2,5,6,1

Quotes from the Court

Head Coach Roland Thornqvist

Overall thoughts on the match…
“Clearly this is a difficult period because we come to Florida with certainly a great belief in that we can beat anyone and anytime you lose three matches in a row, you know it’s human nature to question what you do and who you are. I think it’s really important right now to keep our eyes on the ball and know that we are getting better. Although we have lost three straight matches, I want to emphasize that it is with razor-thin margins. It’s my job as a coach to make sure that we continue to work on the stuff that we have been working and that we are seeing green shoots. I was particularly impressed by the younger players today. I thought they were magnificent, for us to have a successful season our youngsters will have to grow up fast. I thought today was a great day for that group.

“Central Florida is probably a top five team, to be honest with you. They’re deep and they’re excellent in doubles, and so I think both times we have played them it’s been a thin margin. We are not in the moral victory business but as a coach, it’s important that we take the emotion of losing three in a row out of it and analyze it for what it is and where we can get better. I am proud of our team for the work they are doing every week and that extra work in the morning. We are starting to see some of it pay off, and I feel very confident that we are going to get paid here soon.”