The No. 25 UCF women’s tennis team ran the court with its rival, USF, to clinch its first American Athletic Conference trophy and its first conference championship since 2002. The Knights did not drop a single match of the entire tournament, and with Sunday’s 4-0 victory, UCF captured its sixth conference championship in program history and an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Championship.
“I’m just so happy for them, especially for our senior (Natalia Serrano), you want her to leave the right way and we did that this year,” says head coach Bryan Koniecko. “USF pushed us back a little bit late in the match, but we’re happy we clinched it. I’m just ready for our next practice and hopefully the culture we set this year continues on.”
UCF redshirt sophomore Valeriya Zeleva was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after winning two singles matches in the tournament, including a straight-set victory against a nationally ranked Ana Roman Dominguez of USF. She also helped UCF claim the doubles point alongside partner Ksenia Kuznetsova against the Bulls in just 30 minutes.
“She’s a stud. When she shows up and plays her game and she plays with passion, she’s as good as anyone in the country,” Koniecko says.
As the No. 1 seed of the tournament, the Knights advanced to The American’s title match for the first time after dominant 4-0 wins over both Memphis and Tulsa in the earlier rounds. UCF became the third team to win the trophy since the conference began six years ago. Only USF and Tulsa had reigned as champion in years past.
Sunday’s victory brings UCF’s total to 22 this year, which ties the school record for most wins in a season (1995 and 1997).
The women’s tennis team became the fourth UCF squad this season to win a conference trophy, joining football, men’s soccer (regular season) and volleyball.
The 2019 NCAA Championship will be held May 16-25 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.