April 16, 2011
By David Weisz, Seminoles.com Intern
TALLAHSSEE, Fla. – Four years of college can go by in the blink of an eye. However, when you’ve had as much success as Seminole seniors Federica Suess and Katie Rybakova have on the tennis court, those four years can provide a lifetime of memories. In the time the two seniors have spent together at FSU, they’ve done everything from becoming close friends to rewriting the school record books.
As two of the winningest players in school history, Rybakova and Suess have certainly left their mark on the Florida State program. With 101 career wins, Federica is just one win away from tying the all-time school record for wins and with two more wins, Katie will reach her 100th career win as well. But the two stars remain humble in their greatness and insist that they play for a greater cause than just themselves – the team.
“It’s pretty cool [being one of the winningest all-time players at FSU]. I don’t pay attention to it that much but it’s obviously an honor and great to be part of such company” said Rybakova. “I’ve learned over the last couple of years and the years being here that tennis can be a team sport. It is an individual sport when you’re playing juniors and when you’re young, but then once you come into a team environment it really changed my perspective on what a team can do and what a team can accomplish versus what an individual can accomplish. It’s something that I always try and talk about when I talk to juniors and in interviews but it is important to play individually well. I for sure focus on going out and competing for the girls, which has become more important to me.”
Amidst spectacular senior seasons in which Suess also moved into 4th place in school history with 69 doubles wins and Rybakova moved into 5th place with 65 doubles wins, the girls are rather nostalgic regarding their careers at FSU.
“The accomplishments on the court are fun to remember but I think in general, just the whole atmosphere being here and being with the girls is the most important thing for me,” said Rybakova. “That’s what I’m going to remember; the laughter, the fun – I’ll never forget that for sure.”
“I will definitely miss the girls and the coaches, our travels, and the competition. There is nothing that feels as good as winning a big match as a team,” added Suess.
When the Seminoles take the court against No. 4 nationally ranked Duke, Rybakova and Suess will be playing their final match at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center in front of family, friends and the loyal fans that have watched them grow for four years. But you can bet the two seniors won’t be scared by the competition. Just last season, Suess and Rybakova helped Florida State defeat the Blue Devils, with Rybakova clinching the match for FSU over the No. 72 ranked player in the country. This season, both Seminole seniors will likely face off against a nationally ranked player when they face Duke, but neither girl frets at the notion.
“It makes me very excited knowing that it will be a good match and that I have to be at my best,” said Suess. “Playing against premier competition like Duke leads to an increased level of your own game, which is very exciting.”
For as many memories as Katie and Fede have created with their success on the court, they may have created the best ones off of the court. Having roomed together for their first two years at Florida State, the two have become extremely close friends. When asked about each other, both immediately draw smiles and laughs.
“I actually call her Wifey,” said Rybakova. “That’s just how we are. We’ve been really close ever since we came here; I’ll never forget the moment we roomed together freshman year. We had a lot of fun and I roomed with her for our freshman and sophomore year. I love her to death; she’s like my Wifey. I’ll never forget her and I really hope we stay in contact and I know that we will. We’ve gotten really close over the four years and we’ve experienced a lot together.”
While their careers are coming to an end, the two successful ladies have plenty in store in their futures. Suess was named the recipient of the ACC Postgraduate Scholarship and plans to return to her home land of Germany to study. She was also awarded a prestigious summer internship with Nike in Oregon. In similar fashion, Katie has no intention of leaving the educational atmosphere, as she would like to earn her Master’s degree and possibly even a PhD before teaching at a university.
When the two successful Seminoles’ playing days at FSU are over and the record books are updated to reflect their astonishing impact on the program, it will be easy to look back at their careers and say that they were two of the best to ever swing a racket for Florida State.
“I want to be remembered as somebody that played with heart and soul and that would do anything to make this team better and get the win,” Suess concluded.