March 13, 2006
Florida State (8-7, 1-1 ACC) vs. No. 19 Notre Dame (9-4)
Florida State could possibly enjoy pre-St. Patrick’s Day festivities on Tuesday, when the Seminoles look to knock-off No. 19 Notre Dame at Scott Speicher Tennis Center at 5 p.m. The No. 35-ranked Seminoles are looking to upset their second top-20 team in as many matches when the Irish roll into town. FSU enters the match with an 8-7 overall record and 1-1 league mark, including a 7-0 upset over No. 18 Georgia Tech on Sunday, March 12. Notre Dame is 9-4 on the season with all of its victories occurring indoors. The Seminoles are led by sophomore Sam Chang (Young-Ming, Taiwan) who has a 21-11 record on the season and a team-best 9-5 dual-match record. Chang was named the “ACC’s Performer of the Week” on Monday thanks to a 4-0 record last week. Florida State freshmen look to be leading the way in singles as Chris Cloer (Brevard, NC) has won four straight matches at No. 6 and Maciek Sykut (Marathon, Fla.) has recorded victories in six of his last seven performances. Florida State’s No. 1 doubles pair of Ytai Abougzir (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Chris Westerhof (Durban, South Africa) is ranked No. 29 nationally with a 7-4 overall record and a 7-2 record against ranked opponents. Abougzir will have a tough task at hand Tuesday as the Irish’s No. 1 player, Stephen Bass, has a 22-5 record and is ranked No. 13. He has not lost in seven straight matches. “We have played a lot over the last week in a half so the guys need time to rest their legs,” Florida State head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “Monday we will run through a light practice and then turn our attention to Notre Dame and then to Clemson Saturday. I look at our schedule and it is one of the most difficult in the country, especially our out-of-conference lineup. We are ready for the next challenge and we look forward to the upcoming week.”
In The Rankings
Updated rankings are not released until Tuesday of each week, so FSU remains at No. 35 in the latest ITA-Fila National Rankings released on March 7. The Seminoles have flirted with teams in the top-25 in recent weeks and it’s possible the team may jump fairly high this week. All seven of Florida State’s losses on the season have come against ranked opponents, including four teams ranked in the top-20 in the nation (at the time of competition). The Seminoles fell to No. 2 Pepperdine, No. 9 Baylor, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 18 Miami, No. 37 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 59 Nebraska, and No. 60 Texas A&M. Florida State has quality wins over No. 18 Georgia Tech, No. 31 South Carolina, No. 47 Penn, No. 51 Alabama, No. 53 Rice and No. 68 Furman.
Florida State junior Ytai Abougzir (No. 103) and freshman Maciek Sykut (No. 29) are both ranked nationally in singles. Junior Jonathas Sucupira started the season at No. 36 before missing four weeks with a hand fracture. Since his return, he is 3-1 and it’s only a matter of time before he is 100 percent and looking to knock-off ranked opponents. Meanwhile, the Abougzir and Chris Westerhof duo have a respectable No. 29 national ranking, including an upset of the No. 1 team in the nation from Ohio State.
A Look At The Irish
The University of Notre Dame men’s tennis team enters the match with a 9-4 record and its highest ranked win of the season came against then-No. 11 Ohio State on Feb. 24 . . . In that match, the Irish won 5-2 after losing the doubles point and winning in five singles matches. . . Florida State also played OSU but dropped a 4-1 decision on March 4 . . . Notre Dame has won seven straight matches and in its last outing, it defeated Indiana, 6-1, on March 7 . . . The Irish have not lost at the top singles spot in seven consecutive matches . . . Notre Dame is led by No. 13 Stephen Bass, No. 89 Brett Helgeson and No. 106 Barry King . . . Bass will likely face Abougzir at No. 1, Helgeson will possibly battle Chang at No. 3 and King will more than likely clash with Westerhof at No. 5.
Florida State and Notre Dame will meet for the seventh time in school history . . . The teams are tied at 3-3 in the all-time series . . . The two squads met last year, with the Irish edging the Seminoles, 4-3.
“He Keeps Going And Going…”
If we didn’t know any better, Florida State sophomore Sam Chang might be considered a real life “Energizer Bunny.” This season, he has played in 32 total matches, seven more than anyone on his team. Furthermore, Chang has played in the third set 10 times this year and he owns a remarkable 8-2 record in the third set. Chang has also defeated and faced more ranked opponents than anyone on his team. He is 6-8 against individuals nationally ranked.
Three Is Key
No. 3 singles is the key position for Florida State as the Seminoles own a 9-4 record in dual matches at the third spot. Senior Chris Westerhof and sophomore Sam Chang have a 4-1 record in the third slot and freshman Maciek Sykut is 1-1.
The Seminoles are back in action on Saturday, March 18, against No. 15 Clemson at home. The match will begin at 1pm.
Against South Florida on Monday, Chang topped Marc Jaeger at No. 3 singles, 6-4, 6-1 as
Chang followed that up with a match-clinching 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Ralph Knupfer in the Seminoles’ 4-3 win over Rice on Wednesday.
Chang pulled out another nail-biter against Texas A&M on Thursday, downing Conor Pollock, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), at No. 3 in the team loss.
Chang capped his week with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Georgia Tech’s Zachary Rath as Florida State picked up the 7-0 ACC win. The Young-Ming,
The Seminoles (8-7, 1-1 ACC) return to action on Tuesday, March 14, when they will host No. 19 Notre Dame at 5 p.m.