TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s tennis team’s (28-5) record-breaking season came to an end Saturday night as they lost to Alabama (20-12) in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Team Championships.
“I thought it was a great college tennis match,” said head coach Dwayne Hultquist. “I thought Alabama did a great job of competing. We had a lot of things go against us. I think we grabbed the momentum when it began to rain. We were about to finish off two matches and turn a couple others our way. I do think the rain delay helped them. It got the heat out of the air and turned it into a cool night.”
For the 11th time this season, the Noles started out in a hole as they lost the doubles point. Alabama’s 26th ranked pair of Edison Ortiz and Mazen Osam took court three from redshirt senior Jose Gracia and senior Terrance Whitehurst 6-3. Courts one and two were battling, but the Crimson Tide took court two 6-4 over senior Guy Iradukunda and sophomore Alex Knaff. Court one was tied 5-5 and was not able to finish as the doubles point was clinched.
Singles play began as both teams split first sets. The top of the Seminoles lineup led the Noles with the three singles wins, while the bottom three of the lineup fell behind early.
In the second set, Florida State began to turn things around as they were leading or tied on all six courts, then the rain began causing a delay that lasted a little over an hour.
Coming out of the break Alabama began to turn the tide.
The Crimson Tide extended their lead to 2-0 with 6-3, 7-5 straight set win on court four. Florida State narrowed the Alabama lead to 2-1 within seconds as Iradukunda clinched his match 6-0, 7-6.
The Seminoles then tied up the match with a 6-3, 6-4 win on court three by redshirt senior Lucas Poullain. It was his 24th win of the spring and 29th of the season.
With the match tied up, Alabama took back the lead with a 6-2, 6-4 win on court five, bringing the match down to courts one and six.
On court six, sophomore Rana-Roop Singh Bhullar fell quickly in the first set as he lost 6-0. He quickly flipped the script taking set two 6-1. In the third set, he went down 3-0 but fought back to tie it up three. He could not hold on as he fell 6-3.
Junior Aziz Dougaz was not able to finish his match as he was in a third set against the No. 10 player in the nation.
“Today is going to sting for a while,” said Hultquist. “We had been 16-1 on our home courts. We just didn’t get it done on our home courts and that is disappointing. It has been a great year as we beat Wake Forest when they were No. 1 and beating Florida in front of the largest crowd in college tennis.”
Dougaz, Iradukunda and Poullain will continue their season as they compete in the NCAA Individual Championship starting on May 24th.
To keep up with the Seminoles, check Seminoles.com for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSU_MTennis), Facebook (/FSUMTennis), and Instagram @FSU_MTennis).
#42 Alabama 4, #11 Florida State University 2
1. #25 Aziz Dougaz (FS) vs. #10 Mazen Osama (BAMA) 7-5, 5-7, 1-2, unfinished
2. #44 Guy Iradukunda (FS) def. Patrick Kaukovalta (BAMA) 6-0, 7-6 (7-4)
3. #35 Lucas Poullain (FS) def. Thibault Cancel (BAMA) 6-3, 6-4
4. Edson Ortiz (BAMA) def. Jose Gracia (FS) 6-3, 7-5
5. Alexey Nesterov (BAMA) def. Alex Knaff (FS) 6-2, 6-4
6. Zhe Zhou (BAMA) def. Rana Roop Bhullar (FS) 6-0, 1-6, 6-3
1. Aziz Dougaz/Lucas Poullain (FS) vs. #26 Edson Ortiz/Mazen Osama (BAMA) 5-5, unfinished
2. Thibault Cancel/Alexey Nesterov (BAMA) def. #60 Guy Iradukunda/Alex Knaff (FS) 6-4
3. Patrick Kaukovalta/Zhe Zhou (BAMA) def. Jose Gracia/Terrance Whitehurst (FS) 6-3
Alabama 20-12; National ranking #42
Florida State University 28-5; National ranking #11
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (4,2,3,5,6)