The week of UCF Knights sports saw four teams compete in their final American Athletic Conference tournaments, while two other teams’ spring seasons continue along.
Plus, we name the Knight of the Week and Knights Play of the Week in your Knight Cap for Tuesday, April 25, 2023.
Women’s Tennis Fall in AAC Final, but eligible for NCAAs
Our tournament run has come to a close.— UCF Women's Tennis (@UCF_WTennis) April 22, 2023
We will wait for the results of the NCAA Selection Show on May 1 to see if we will receive a bid for the NCAA Tournament
The UCF Women’s Tennis team may not be American Athletic Conference Champions, but thanks to its performance in the conference tournament at the USTA National Campus last weekend, it lives to fight another day.
The Knights needed to pick up at least two wins during the weekend to finish their season at .500 or better, or else they would be ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to a pair of 4-0 sweeps against Houston in Thursday’s Quarterfinals and Memphis in Friday’s semifinals, they did just that.
With freshman Stefani Webb and Jantje Tillbuerger still sidelined, junior Jaleesa Leslie and redshirt sophomore Anique Kattenberg once again teamed up in doubles play and stepped up to play on Courts 5 and 6 for singles play. Between singles and doubles matches, both women went 4-1 in the tournament overall.
“We’ve known each other since we were 10,” Kattenberg said. “We used to battle it out in the juniors together and we were roommates freshman year, and honestly we’ve been inseparable ever since.”
However, UCF met its match on Saturday in the tournament final in the #1-seed SMU, who it had already lost to in its regular season finale less than a week prior. This time, the Mustangs put the match away much quicker, sweeping the Knights, 4-0.
Despite the loss, however, the Knights were able to finish their season ranked 38th in the Intercollegiate Association’s Rankings and with an 11-11 overall record, exactly the one it needed to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
“A lot of teams go home at this point in the season and call it, but we get to continue to play for another two weeks, a great two weeks needed for our team to continue getting ready to come out of this,” head coach Bryan Koniecko said.
NEXT: The Knights will know for sure of their postseason fate during the NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament Selection Show on May 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Men’s Tennis Season Ends in AAC Semifinal
Our season comes to a close, we’ll see you next year for some @big12conference tennis.— UCF Men's Tennis (@UCF_MTennis) April 22, 2023
The UCF Men’s Tennis Team will not join its female counterpart in the postseason.
The Knights did make it to the American Athletic Conference Tournament’s semifinal thanks to a 4-3 victory over USF. However, a 4-3 loss to #2-seed Tulane leaves them at 11-12 on the season, below .500, and thus ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.
Both matches came down to freshman Yassine Dlimi on Court #3, and while he was able to hold off USF’s Erik Grevelius (0-6, 6-4, 6-4), he was downed by Tulane’s Billy Suarez (6-2, 5-7, 3-6).
“Our guys were tough,” head coach John Roddick said after Saturday’s loss. “We lost the match, and I won’t say it wasn’t because we weren’t tough. So, that’s all you can ask from the team.”
This comes despite a 3-1 weekend between doubles and singles play from senior Bogdan Pavel.
“I wasn’t really ready for it to end today, and then it gradually hits when you realize it was my last dual match ever for UCF, wearing these colors and everything for the team,” Pavel said. “So, it’s pretty tough at the moment, so.”
While the Knights’ season as a team might be over, Pavel’s position as part of the #33 doubles pair in the nation with fellow senior Lleyton Cronje means he has a chance of being selected for the NCAA Men’s Tennis Individual Doubles Tournament. The selections for the tournament will be released on May 2.
Women’s Golf Finishes AAC Runner-Up
Despite three players finishing in the Top 10, a historic individual champion relegated the UCF Women’s Golf team to runner-up at the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Brooksville, Florida.
Despite team scores improving with every round, the Knights’ 853 (11-under) for the championship still came 14 strokes behind conference champion SMU.
This came in no small part due to the performance of Michelle Zhang. The freshman Mustang made conference championship history by finishing with a 201 (15-under), its lowest 54-hole score by seven strokes. She also ended up finishing seven strokes ahead of runner-up individual Moa Svedenskiold of Houston.
However, the Knights were not left out of the podium as junior Jess Baker took 3rd place with a 210 (6-under), her lowest 54-hole score of the season.
Joining her in the Top 10 individually were grad-student Anna Nordfors, who finished tied for 5th at 212 (4-under), and senior Tunrada Piddon, who came in 7th place with a 213 (3-under).
With UCF ranked #19 in the nation in Golfstat’s rankings, the prospects of a fourth-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance for the program looks likely.
Hear Coach Marron recap the AAC Championship Tournament pic.twitter.com/3lWNNrzVb1— UCF Women's Golf (@UCF_WGolf) April 19, 2023
NEXT: The Knights will find out for sure with the NCAA Women’s Golf Selection Show on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on Golf Channel.
Men’s Golf on Bubble After AAC Championship
The UCF Men’s Golf team finds itself in a familiar position after a fourth-place finish in the American Athletic Conference Championship in Belleair, Florida.
While Houston ran away with the team championship, finishing 12 strokes ahead of second place at 831 (9-under), second thru fifth place finished within five strokes of each other.
With an 845 (5-over) total, the Knights came two strokes shy of runner-up Cincinnati and one stroke behind third-place SMU.
Junior Egor Eroshenko led the way for the Knights individually, as he took a final-round 67 (3-under) to vault himself into ninth place at 211 (1-over) on the weekend.
Fifth-Years Luis Carrera and Johnny Travale joined Eroshenko in the Top 10 as both finished in a tie for 10th at 212 (2-over).
Despite three players in the Top 10, the Knights slid down two spots in Golfstat’s rankings to #73 in the nation. Only 81 teams are selected for NCAA Regionals, with conference champions receiving an automatic bid, thus putting UCF on the bubble of selection for the second consecutive season.
NEXT: The Knights will find out their postseason fate in the NCAA Men’s Golf Selection Show on May 3 at 1 p.m. on Golf Channel.
Track and Field Stands Pat in Top 20 Nationally
The UCF Track and Field team was split up last weekend. While most of the teams were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the LSU Alumni Gold, the distance squad traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the Georgia Tech Invitational.
Highlights from the weekend include:
- Daija Lampkin, Rayniah Jones, Beyonce Defreitas, and I’Asia Wilson teamed up to take the bronze in the 4x100-meter relay with a 43.26-second time that became the third-fastest in program history.
- Jones also got a bronze in the 100-meter hurdles with a 12.97-second time.
- Janyah Jasper’s 11.28-second 100-meter dash time became the 5th-fastest in program history. She finished sixth in the event. Daija Lampkin also added her name to the list with an 11.37-second time that ties for the 7th-fastest in program history.
- Three Knights (Defreitas, Latasha Smith, and Kiah Williams) finished in the Top 10 in the 200-meter dash.
- Jasmine Scott-Kilgo took gold in the long jump with a 6.28-meter best jump.
- Asherah Collins took silver in the triple jump with a 13.15-meter best jump.
- Mariana Rodriguez’s 17:35.17 time in the 5K run put her in 8th place in program history in the event. This makes the 5K the third event Rodriguez has reached the program’s Top 10 this month, alongside the 800-meter run and the 1500-meter run.
Thanks to the team’s performance, it stood its ground at #16 in the nation in the USTFCCCA’s rankings.
NEXT: The Knights will cap off their regular season next weekend with a trip up to Jacksonville for the UNF Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Rowing Competes in First Non-Florida Regatta of 2023
The UCF Rowing team ventured outside of Florida’s borders for the first time in 2023 last weekend with the Lake Wheeler Invite in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The regatta was the Knights’ first official event with Montia Rice as interim head coach after the resignation of Becky Cramer on April 12.
While none of the Knights’ boats came away with any victories over the weekend, the Varsity Four boat got the team’s best finish with a second place in a heat Friday afternoon. It finished third in its other two heats.
For the full results of the Lake Wheeler Invite, check out regattatiming.com.
NEXT: The Knights will be back out on the road for their final regular-season regatta in the Oregon State Invite on Saturday.
Knight of the Week
Anique Kattenberg, Women’s Tennis
Kattenberg was in the midst of the second singles match of her 2022 season when she rolled her ankle, breaking her foot, Koniecko said.
She would not compete for the Knights in a dual match for just over a year, until she made her 2023 debut on Feb. 26 in a doubles match against Pepperdine.
She was pushed into regular service in mid-March due to UCF’s injuries, mainly taking up Court #6. With a pair of singles and doubles victories in the AAC Tournament, she is now 6-1 in singles play and 4-3 in doubles play in her comeback season.
“It took me a while to come back from that injury, of course with the surgery, but I’m so happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to be back on the court and just get some wins for the team,” Kattenberg said.