April has been a very good month for the UCF Knights.
Over the last three weeks, the volleyball team, men’s soccer team (regular season and tournament titles) and both the women’s and men’s tennis teams have all won American Athletic Conference championships and punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament.
The tennis teams, which both rank among the top 15 teams in the country, dominated on the court at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona over the weekend to bring home trophies No. 4 and 5 and now set their eyes on the NCAA Tournament. The selection show for the big dance will take place on May 3 on NCAA.com.
The top-seeded UCF women’s tennis team earned their second American Athletic Conference Championship in as many full seasons, beating No. 46, third-seeded Tulsa 4-1 on Sunday afternoon to earn the seventh conference title in program history.
“It’s nice to send the seniors off the right way; that’s what you want to do,” says head coach Bryan Koniecko. “Every time you have seniors who give their everything for the program you want to send them off right. There was a lot of anticipation for this one … this time it was different to kind of have the expectations on us; we had the pressure on us and Tulsa gave us everything they had. It turned into a great college tennis match. I’m just happy when things got hard in third sets that we kept fighting and found a way.”
The title is the second as part of The American and the seventh in program history. UCF earns the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which will be their seventh appearance. It will be the first time that the Black and Gold head to the NCAA Tournament in three straight seasons.
The Knights won back-to-back titles for the first time since 1999 and 2000 when the team won four straight from 1997-2002. The Knights have earned back-to-back conference titles without a blemish, going perfect against conference play in each of their two championship seasons. UCF was 6-0 against conference play during the 2019 regular season before running through Memphis, Tulsa and South Florida to the title. 2021 saw the Black and Gold tally a 3-0 record against conference foes prior to the tournament. Not only was UCF perfect in conference play, but they were also undefeated on their home court in each campaign.
The UCF men’s tennis team earned its first title as part of the American Athletic Conference and its fourth in program history as the Knights swept rival USF 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.
“It felt great,” says Director of Tennis John Roddick. “It’s been a hard road for these guys. Last year we were kind of nudging into position to be a favorite to win and then the pandemic came and didn’t get a chance at it. When you skip a season in which you were doing a lot of things well and then you just stop and come back next year it feels like a really long time. I know for them, they’re very excited, and I’m excited for them. There have been a lot of downs and now we’re starting to have a lot of ups on this team. These guys have persevered like no other team I’ve worked with.
Although the Knights have advanced to the AAC title match in three of the last four years, the conference title mark the program’s first since 2005. UCF won three straight titles from 2003-2005 as part of the Atlantic Sun. The 2003 team achieved a 20-4 record that season and was the last team to eclipse that mark.
The Knights’ outstanding performance marked their 13th straight victory, propelling them to a record of 21-3. They’ve won 19 of their last 20 matches. This year’s squad is just the sixth in the program’s 50-year history to eclipse the 20-win mark.