One of the reasons junior Tsveta Dimitrova wanted to transfer to the University of Florida was to challenge herself.
She found — and overcame — that challenge this weekend after losing her first match on Friday and needed three more wins on Saturday to stay alive in the consolation bracket. She won them all and walked away from the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic with a consolation championship in singles play.
The junior started off her Saturday reeling off a pair of 6-3 wins against Virginia Tech’s Shene Disbergen before facing off against Natalia Serrano of UCF.
Dimitrova dropped the first game but responded with a 6-4 win in the second game. She then dominated the tiebreaker 10-3 to advance to the final round of the consolation bracket.
The Bulgarian native’s final matchup was Boston College’s Natasha Irani, but Irani defaulted the match, giving Dimitrova the consolation championship.
Katie Kubicz also made a brief run in the consolation bracket. She defeated UCF’s Valentina Martin 6-0, 3-6, 10-7 before losing to Irani 2-6, 4-6.
Dimitrova and freshman Marlee Zein teamed up on the doubles court to take on TCU’s tandem of Stevie Kennedy and Aleksa Cveticanin in the doubles quarterfinals but lost 8-5.
The first day of the tournament ended with relative disappointment.
Zein was a bright spot in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, on the first day of competition. The freshman started her weekend off with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 win over Appalachian State’s Jeannez Daniel to advance to the Round of 16. She had two of the Gators’ three wins on Friday before she was bounced from singles play in the Round of 16 with a 2-6, 1-6 loss to Oklahoma State’s Catherine Gulihar.
Zein teamed up with Dimitrova to represent the Gators in the doubles bracket. The duo edged out Julia Ascua and Patricia Villary of FGCU 7-5 to advance to the second round. Dimitrova and Zein’s next match against Kennedy and Aleksa Cveticanin of TCU was suspended due to inclimate weather.
This was the team’s next-to-last event on its fall slate. The team will be divided to play in either the Florida State All-Conference Showdown or the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships.
"Overall, we didn't play our best tennis this weekend, but we absolutely competed way better today,” said women’s tennis assistant coach Dave Balogh in a release. “I'm looking forward to seeing us build on this next weekend for our last Fall event."
You can follow Brendan Farrell on Twitter @bfarrell727, and contact him at [email protected].