Lake Nona, Florida, will have plenty of action Friday afternoon when men’s and women‘s Gators tennis travel south to play UCF.
Combined, the teams are 4-1 after the women started their season Monday and the men kicked off with a strong effort at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Texas.
The afternoon’s marquee matchup will be a top-25 showdown between the UF women’s team and the Golden Knights. The programs last dueled each other in February 2019, where UCF edged out the match 4-3 to get its only win in 10 meetings with the Gators.
No. 22 UCF is looking for its first win of the season after going through a crash course of elite teams during ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Knights let a win slip through their fingers against No.16 Wake Forest with a 3-4 final, later getting swept by No. 8 North Carolina State 0-4.
The Gators’ doubles will look to take advantage of UCF’s struggles. The top couple for the Knights are No. 6 Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel. Despite their high ranking, they’ve been unable to finish with a victory.
They’re likely to face off against No. 26 duo McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein, who shined in their singles blowouts but struggled in doubles against Georgia State. The three-day practice window will be critical for Kessler and Zein to pick themselves up and find their first win of the year.
The Gators seem to have an advantage in the tale of the tape for the singles matchups. UCF had a hard time last weekend, going 2-8 overall. The Gators glided by their competitors
6-0 and won every set by at least three points.
This will be the 20th meeting between the two teams, and Florida seems to be the kryptonite of the Golden Knights. Whether the play takes place in the Swamp or UCF, the Gators have come out on top all 19 times the programs went head-to-head.
The last meeting ended at 6-1 with the lone win coming from Bogdan Pavel. Pavel returns as a sophomore and will play in singles and doubles Friday. It’s unknown if Pavel will join his partner from last year, sophomore Trey Hilderbrand.
Friday afternoon will be UCF’s first match of the season, which only means the Knights have fresh legs to contrast the Gators, who’ve already been through four meetings.
The men have had the luxury of a few more recovery days after their trip to Austin, Texas. The ITA Kickoff tournament was almost a success for Florida, with the team placing second and suffering a tough 3-4 loss to No. 6 Texas.
The women will begin the action Friday at 3 p.m. and be followed by the men at 5 p.m. The matches can be live-streamed on FloridaGators.com.
Contact Jesse Richardson at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352