Alabama women’s tennis season ends in NCAA Regional loss to UCF


Courtesy of UA Athletics

The Alabama women’s tennis team poses for a picture at the NCAA Regional on May 6 in Miami, Florida.

Abby McCreary, Contributing Writer

The Alabama women’s tennis team suffered a tough loss to the UCF Knights, 4-0, at the NCAA Regional Championships in Miami, Florida, on Friday. The Crimson Tide, coming off a loss in the SEC tournament, had hoped to continue their season into the second round. 

“Left it all on the courts,” the team’s Twitter account said in a post

Going into the tournament, Alabama had a .613 winning average in doubles play, but on Friday, they couldn’t secure the doubles point. All three duos stayed neck-and-neck with their opponents, but only graduate students Kasia and Ola Pitak, the sister pair from Poland, were able to pull off a win – taking their UCF opponents to 7-5. 

With doubles play at 1-1, sophomores Loudmilla Bencheikh and Anne Marie Hiser were the deciding factors in the battle for the doubles point, but after bringing the match to 6-6, they lost the tiebreaker 2-7, giving the Knights the doubles point.

Freshman Petra Sedlackova, one of the highest ranked members of the Crimson Tide at No. 68 in the ITA standings, started off singles play in the No. 2 position. Her match developed slowly, though, as her teammates started their matches around her. Bencheikh, the highest ranked Alabama player at No. 66, played in the No. 1 spot. While both players ended up taking their opponents to a third set, their matches went unfinished as the matchup was decided by the lower courts.

Kasia Pitak and sophomore Anna Parkhomenko, No. 6 and No. 4 spots respectively, both fell to their UCF opponents in decisive two-set matches. On Court 5, Hiser’s loss in three sets was the final nail in the coffin for the Crimson Tide as the Knights secured the fourth point that they needed for a first round victory. 

On Court 3, Ola Pitak’s match went unfinished just like Bencheikh’s and Sedlackova’s, even though she had just won a tiebreaker to win the second set that would’ve introduced a third set. These three matches were much closer than their other teammates’ but, nonetheless, they went unfinished.

“Congratulations to UCF on a great win today,” Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. “We’re proud of our team and the tremendous effort we showed against a tough UCF team. We had chances to win the doubles point but lost it in a tight tiebreaker. We got off to a slow start in singles, dropping five first sets but fought back to split in four out of six singles matches. The score is not at all indicative of the hard-fought match and the come-from-behind push. We ran out of time.”

Despite the loss, the Crimson Tide finished with a winning season and a record of 15-12 – including a 12-3 home record. This season, Mainz was also named a National Tennis Classic Hall of Fame Inductee.

“Our team showed a lot of grit, determination and resiliency today and all season,” Mainz said. “We have a lot to build on as we have a very young team that’s eager to improve. We demonstrated a lot of growth and advancement through the course of the season. We worked hard to become a team and learned to play together as a team. The maturity and progress are promising and we’re looking forward to next season.”