McClain Kessler

Senior McClain Kessler wrapped up his fall season with a doubles loss in the Round of 16 at the Dick Vitale Clay Court Classic.


Women’s team rebounds after tough opening day

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.”


Men’s team makes championship push, falls short

UF freshman Lukas Greif took down Navy’s Greg Durham 6-2, 6-1 in the singles round of 32, and senior McClain Kessler took care of business against Notre Dame’s Johnathan Small 6-1, 6-2. Freshman Harrison Cacciatore and sophomore Brian Berdusco were swept by Princeton’s Will Peters (0-6, 3-6) and Bill Duo (3-6, 2-6), respectively.

Greif and Kessler each won in the singles Round of 16 to move to the quarterfinals, where they both stumbled. Greif lost to Notre Dame’s Axel Nefve 4-6, 5-7, and Kessler fell to Illinois’ Noe Khlif 6-7, 1-6.

The duos of Greif and Berdusco and Kessler and Cacciatore teamed up in the doubles Round of 16. Greif and Berdusco defeated Louisville’s David Mizrahi and Juan Paredes 6-3 to advance, while Kessler and Cacciatore dropped their first match to Oklahoma State’s Emile Hudd and Brady Draheim 4-6.

Greif and Berdusco made their way to a semifinals match with Chase Wood and Richard Thongoana of rival Florida State. Wood and Thongoana defeated the Gators doubles team (4-8) to end the weekend.

This was the last action of the for the fall season for Cacciatore, Greif and Kessler. As for the rest of the team, Berdusco, Ingildsen, Duarte Vale and Andy Andrade will travel to Surprise, Arizona, for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. Berdusco and Ingildsen qualified for the doubles draw after their regional championship victory, while Ingildsen, Vale and Andrade all earned at-large bids for the singles draw. The championships begin Wednesday Nov. 7.

Follow Brendan and Kyle on Twitter @Bfarrell727 and @kkylewood or contact them at [email protected] or [email protected]

Kyle Wood covers men's and women's tennis and has been with the Florida Alligator since Fall 2018.