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Everything You Need to Know About the 2023 UCF Women’s Tennis Team

The Knights looking for one more AAC title as it comes to home court

Courtesy of UCF Athletics

While not as flashy as the Volleyball or Soccer teams have been, the UCF Knights Women’s Tennis team is just as part of the recent golden age of UCF female athletics as they are.

This season, a pair of faces that have been around since the beginning of that age will have their UCF swan songs while a crop of talented underclassmen looks to capture one last AAC crown and get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Knights as they start their 2023 season:

How Dual-Match Tennis Works

The dual match begins with Doubles Play, in which there are three matches played between a pair of players from each team. Whichever school wins 2 out of the 3 Doubles matches gets 1 point.

After Doubles Play, six Singles Play matches are played between members of each school worth 1 point each.

The school with the most points after all the matches are played is the victor. However, it is not uncommon that the dual-match will end early once one team gets 4 points since it becomes mathematically impossible for the other team to come back.

Last Season

(16-8, 3-0 AAC), Lost AAC Tournament Quarterfinal, Lost in 2nd Round of NCAA Tournament to Miami (FL)

After losing their initial No. 1 slot player, Valeriya Zeleva, early on in the season, the Knights were able to adjust and pick up wins against Top 25-ranked Baylor, Michigan, and Oklahoma State.

However, despite winning over South Florida in the regular season, UCF was snake-bit by the Bulls in the quarterfinals of the AAC Tournament. Additionally, shades of 2018, the Knights were sent home in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament by Miami.

This Season

UCF comes into 2023 as the only American Athletic Conference team ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Top 25 Poll.

However, as the Knights go through their final season in the AAC, it will be the conference’s last chance to hand the Knights a regular-season loss in conference play for the first time since 2018.

Who’s in Charge

Bryan Koniecko - 7th season at UCF

Courtesy of UCF Athletics

Entering his seventh season leading the women’s tennis team, three-time AAC Coach of the Year Bryan Koniecko continues to produce double-digit win seasons.

Thanks to such a pace, he picked up the 100th victory of his Knights tenure late last season, making him the 3rd coach in program history to do so. By the time the season was out, he elevated his win count to 103, putting him just ahead of Patricia Allison (1999-2007) for the 2nd-most wins by a head coach in program history. For some historical perspective, Koniecko has now racked up more wins in six seasons than Allison and Stephanie Nickitas (2007-2016) each got in their own eight-season runs.

Bryan Koniecko’s UCF Career

Year Overall Conference AAC Tournament NCAA Team Tournament
Year Overall Conference AAC Tournament NCAA Team Tournament
2017 13-9 0-4 Lost in Quarterfinals (Tulsa) -
2018 20-5 5-1 Lost in Quarterfinals (SMU) Lost 2nd Round (Miami (FL))
2019 24-4 6-0 Won AAC Tournament Lost Sweet 16 (Pepperdine)
2020 10-3 2-0 No Tournament (COVID) -
2021 20-5 3-0 Won AAC Tournament Lost Sweet 16 (Duke)
2022 16-8 3-0 Lost in Quarterfinals (USF) Lost 2nd Round (Miami (FL))
Total 103-34 19-5 2 Titles 4 Appearences

Watch our preview video with Coach Koniecko here:

Players to Watch

Nandini Sharma

While one may not have seen redshirt senior Nandini Sharma amongst the players selected for All-Conference honors, the Indian native has quietly been leading the team in wins playing mostly from the No. 6 slot.

Koniecko has called Sharma “a rock” for the team during her entire career.

In 2022, she led the team with 16 wins in singles play and teamed up with a freshman Sophia Biolay to pick up 16 doubles-play victories, which is tied for the 2nd-most single-season victories by a doubles pair in program history, according to UCF Athletics.

She heads into the 2023 season ranked No. 110 in ITA’s Women’s Tennis Singles Rankings.

Marie Mattel

While Sharma was getting wins in the No. 6 slot, senior Marie Mattel was picking up more notice while she was splitting time in the No. 3 and No. 4 singles slots and playing in the No. 1 doubles slot. While playing in the No. 4 slot, she went a perfect 9-0.

Mattel was a unanimous selection to the AAC’s All-Conference team last season and was the AAC’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championship.

She enters the 2023 season ranked No. 47 in the ITA’s Women’s Tennis Singles Rankings and No. 29 in the Doubles Rankings in a pair with fellow Frenchwoman Sophia Biolay.

Who We’ll Miss

Evgeniya Levashova

The only player to walk on Senior Knight, Evgeniya Levashova was pushed into service in the No. 1 singles player slot after her normal doubles partner, Valeriya Zeleva, did not see the court again after playing three early-season matches.

While she went 3-7 in the No. 1 slot, she found more success in doubles play, where she went 12-5 overall. She ended the 2022 season ranked No. 47 with Marie Mattel in the ITA’s Doubles Pair Rankings after going 8-4 with her in the No. 1 slot.

She was selected to the AAC’s All-Conference team alongside her doubles partner.

Who’s New That’s Good

Jantje Tilbuerger

While she has not taken the court during a dual-match season yet, Jantje Tillbuerger has been making the professional tournament rounds this fall.

Recently, the native German took down the No. 485-ranked player in the Women’s Tennis Association’s rankings while she was ranked No. 830. During her playing career, Tilbuerger has ranked as high as No. 742 in the standings.

She skews a little older for an athlete making her collegiate debut, at 21 years old, but with that age comes an “older mindset of somebody that we can rely on right from the beginning,” Koniecko said.

Stefani Webb

Knights fans will have to wait a little longer to see Stefani Webb make her dual-match debut because she has some business to take care of back in her native Australia.

After taking home both the singles and doubles titles at the Australian Junior National Championships, Webb received a wild card invitation to compete in both singles and doubles play at the Australian Open Junior Championships. Both tournaments are held on the grounds of Melbourne Park, which has hosted the Australian Open Grand Slam tournaments since 1988.

“It’s never easy to win a tournament, especially as you start getting older,” Koniecko said. “It’s harder and harder. You get more trophies when you’re 12-13 than when you’re 18 and 17.”

Roster Breakdown

  • 2 Freshman
  • 3 Sophomores
  • 1 Junior
  • 2 Seniors
  • 3 Floridians
  • 6 International Players (France, Russia, India, Germany, and Australia)

UCF Women’s Tennis 2-023 Roster

Name Year Hometown 2022 School 2022 Stats
Name Year Hometown 2022 School 2022 Stats
Sophia Biolay Sophomore Reims, France UCF Singles: 9-5, Doubles: 17-5
Anique Kattenberg R-Sophomore Satelite Beach, FL UCF Singles: 0-2, Doubles: 0-2
Jaleesa Leslie Junior Apopka, FL UCF Singles: 8-5, Doubles: 7-5
Grace Levelston Freshman Vero Beach, FL Vero Beach HS N/A
Marie Mattel Senior Le Plessis-Bouchard, France UCF Singles: 13-5, Doubles: 8-8
Noel Saidenova Sophomore St. Petersburg, Russia UCF Singles: 8-11, Doubles: 8-10
Nandini Sharma R-Senior Chandigarh, India UCF Singles: 16-5, Doubles: 17-4
Jantje Tilbuerger Freshman Ganderkesee, Germany ILS N/A
Stefani Webb Freshman Melbourne, Australia Northcote HS N/A

Schedule Breakdown

The Knights will play eight opponents that are ranked (or receiving votes for) in the ITA’s Top 25 preseason poll. Amongst those opponents are the Miami (FL) Hurricanes, who eliminated UCF from the NCAA Tournament last season. That match will be part of a three-week home stand at the USTA National Campus (Feb. 24- Mar. 17) that will also see future Big 12 opponent TCU, No. 10-ranked Pepperdine, No. 9-ranked Virginia, and No. 3-ranked NC State visit the City Beautiful.

The Knights won’t spend more than two matches at a time away from home. There is the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Auburn, Alabama, a trip to Tennessee in mid-February to face Vanderbilt and the Vols, and a late March trip to face No. 25-ranked Georgia Tech and Clemson.

2023 UCF Women’s Tennis Schedule

Day Date H/A Time Opponent Preseason ITA Ranking UCF's Results LY 2022 record Last Season
Day Date H/A Time Opponent Preseason ITA Ranking UCF's Results LY 2022 record Last Season
Saturday Jan. 21 Home 11 a.m. Stetson - - 22-3 Lost in NCAA 1st Round to Miami (FL)
Saturday Jan. 28 Neutral 4 p.m. Arizona State 19 - 17-8 Lost in NCAA 2nd Round to Oklahoma
Sunday Jan. 29 Neutral TBA Auburn OR UC Santa Barbara 15 OR RV Loss, 4-0 OR Win, 4-2 22-6 OR 21-7 N/A
Sunday Feb. 5 Home 3 p.m. LSU - Win, 4-1 5-14 Lost in SEC Tournament 1st Round to Kentucky
Tuesday Feb. 14 Home 5 p.m. Florida International - Loss, 4-1 17-5 Lost in NCAA 1st Round to Florida State
Friday Feb. 17 Away 4 p.m. Vanderbilt - - 18-10 Lost in NCAA Sweet 16 to Texas A&M
Sunday Feb. 19 Away 12 p.m. Tennessee 24 - 16-10 Lost in NCAA 2nd Round to NC State
Friday Feb. 24 Home 5 p.m. TCU - - 12-14 Lost in Big 12 Tournament 1st Round to Kansas State
Sunday Feb. 26 Home 12 p.m. Pepperdine 10 - 23-7 Lost in NCAA Quarterfinal to North Carolina
Saturday Mar. 4 Home 12 p.m. Miami (FL) 11 2 Losses, 5-0 and 4-1 19-6 Lost in NCAA Sweet 16 to Pepperdine
Wednesday Mar. 8 Home 5 p.m. Penn State - - 11-13 Lost in Big Ten Tournament 1st Round to Minnesota
Friday Mar. 10 Home 5 p.m. Virginia 7 Loss, 5-2 23-6 Lost in NCAA Quarterfinals to Texas
Tuesday Mar. 14 Home 5 p.m. Yale - Win, 4-1 14-9 3rd in Ivy League
Friday Mar. 17 Home 5 p.m. NC State 3 - 26-6 Lost in NCAA Quarterfinal to Duke
Thursday Mar. 23 Away 12 p.m. Georgia Tech 25 - 15-11 Lost in NCAA 2nd Round to Auburn
Saturday Mar. 25 Away 12 p.m. Clemson - - 13-13 Lost in ACC Tournament Round of 12 to NC State
Monday Apr. 3 Home 5 p.m. Tulane - - 12-9 Lost in AAC Tournament Quarterfinals to Memphis
Thursday Apr. 13 Home 3 p.m. South Florida - Win, 4-0 and Loss, 4-3 7-16 Lost in AAC Tournament Semifinal to Memphis
Sunday Apr. 16 Home 12 p.m. SMU - Win, 4-3 15-9 Lost in AAC Tournament Semifinal to Tulsa

American Athletic Conference Tournament:

  • Hosted by USTA National Campus (UCF’s Home Court)
  • First Round: April 19th
  • Quarterfinals: April 20th
  • Semifinals: April 21st
  • Final: April 22nd

The Last Time...

UCF lost a regular-season conference match: 2018. While South Florida got the best of the Knights in the AAC Tournament last season, Tulsa was the last AAC foe to officially add a game to their conference loss column back on April 13, 2018.

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