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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Women lose by one, men win big against UCF

No. 21 women’s team falls short 3-4, No. 11 men's team comes up with big win


The arriving flights to Orlando International Airport were flying overhead throughout Friday, flying over the nearby United States Tennis Association in Lake Nona, Florida. Below the flights were duals action between the University of Central Florida Knights and the visiting Florida Gators.

The womens’ Gators almost led a remarkable comeback from being down 3-0 but Sydney Berlin fell 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to UCF’s Jalessa Leslier to confirm the Knights’ victory, 4-3. But there to put an ease on Florida’s woes was the men’s team, who slid by UCF 5-2.

Men: No. 11 UF defeats No.19 UCF

It seemed to be a much easier day for the men’s team when they slew the Knights in both singles and doubles play. After a final score of 5-2, the Gators now hold a 4-1 record and spoiled the Knights’ season debut.

Dominating the day was freshman Ben Shelton. He and his first-time doubles partner, Josh Goodger, almost came away with a clean sweep against UCF’s Alan Rubio and Mikhail Sokolovsky but gave up the fourth set after going deuce. Shelton went racket-to-racket with UCF sophomore Bogdan Pavel in singles play and ultimately came out victorious after a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 finish.

Also claiming their win was No. 8 Sam Riffice when he handed Trey Hilderbrand a 6-1,6-1 beat down and No. 85 Andy Andrade was able to finish his match against No. 52 Juan Pablo Mazzuchi after tying up the second set 2-2, then winning four straight.

 No. 12 Duarte Vale was upset by No. 16 Gabriel Decamps 6-3, 4-6, 6-1. Vale had a quick 2-0 lead to start the day but saw Decamps equaled his skills for the match’s remainder.

The men will now travel back up to Tallahassee, FL to challenge in-state rival Florida State University on Sunday, Jan. 21.

Women: No. 22 UCF defeats No. 21 UF

After sweeping Georgia State 7-0, the Gators took their first away trip of the season to Lake Nona to capitalize on their 1-0 start.

The double struggles continued for the women Friday afternoon after giving up the point to give UCF an early 1-0 advantage. The top-ranked matchup between No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein versus No. 6 Rebeka Stolmar and Marie Mattel went unfinished (5-5). 

The crowd was prepared for a longer back and forth between the teams until the simultaneous defeats of other Florida duos, Sara Dahlstrom and Ida Jarlskog who fell to No. 60 Valeriya Zeleva and Ksenia Kuznetsova 7-5. Clutching the doubles point for UCF was Nandini Sharma and Evgeniya Levshova when they beat Amber McGinnis and Layne Sleeth by a 6-1 landslide.

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Senior McCartney Kessler, who ranks at No.32 in the ITA, redeemed the earlier doubles loss with a triumphant win over No. 95 Evgeniya Levshova 7-5, 6-0. The first set told the story of a neck and neck matchup between two of the top 100 players in the nation. Several deuces and the set eventually wound up in a 5-5 deadlock, but Kessler eventually shook off the pressure and dominated the second set with a 6-0 win.

The Gators’ record is now 1-1 and looking forward to playing No. 8 FSU Thursday.

Contact Jesse Richardson at and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352

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