March 30, 2006 - by
Men’s Tennis Fights For ACC Lead Against No. 4 Duke, No. 8 UNC At Home This Weekend

March 30, 2006

Florida State vs. No. 8 North Carolina
Friday, March 31
5:30 PM

Florida State vs. No. 4 Duke
Sunday, April 2

Friday: The first 100 fans in attendance will receive a free foam tomahawk. This Sunday’s match is “Children in Action Sport and Exercise Health Day” at men’s tennis. We will have the inflatable games set up and tons of activities for kids to enjoy. Join us for an exciting day at FSU Tennis. All matches are held at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center and admission is FREE!

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s tennis team has the ability to be in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) race at weekend’s end – if the No. 27 Seminoles can pull off upsets over No. 8 North Carolina and No. 4 Duke Friday and Sunday at Scott Speicher Tennis Center.

The Seminoles (11-8, 4-1 ACC), led by junior standout Ytai Abougzir who is ranked No. 65 in singles and No. 37 in doubles, host the Tar Heels (17-1, 2-1 ACC) Friday, March 31, at 5:30 p.m. The Blue Devils (11-3, 3-0 ACC) roll into Tallahassee on Sunday for a noon contest. The event was originally scheduled for 1pm before team travel plans forced the match to start an hour early.

“There is no doubt that the ACC is the top tennis conference in the country,” FSU head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “If you look at the rankings, the ACC has six teams in the top-25 and then we are ranked No. 27. So, I think to have seven schools in the top-30 in the country speaks volumes about our league. This weekend will determine who is going to be the top contenders in the conference race.”

FSU is arguably playing its best tennis of the season, winning six of its last eight matches. In fact, of the two losses during the month of March, the Seminoles were edged by a narrow 4-3 margin to No. 17 Texas A&M and No. 18 Notre Dame.

“I think we are playing better,” Hultquist commented. “We have three freshmen competing regularly and they are improving each week and then we have junior Jonathas Sucupira back from his injury. I believe as the year goes on, we are playing a lot better as a team.”

While tennis is a team sport, it is hard to ignore the recent success of Abougzir, who competes at the No. 1 singles spot in the lineup. He has emerged as one of the top players in the ACC and has an impressive 4-1 record in conference and has won five straight matches. In fact, Abougzir is 7-3 in his last 10 dual matches with upsets over four top-100 players during the last month, including No. 13 Stephen Bass (3-6, 6-4, 6-1) from Notre Dame on March 14.

“I started the season out 3-3,” Abougzir said, “so I began working out with our assistant coach Nick Crowell every morning. I started playing freely and the hard work is paying off right now. I feel like I pretty much have nothing to lose and it has just been fun.”

Abougzir isn’t the only Seminole with a 4-1 ACC record in singles; ironically his doubles partner and the lone senior on the team, Chris Westerhof, sports an identical singles mark competing in the middle of the lineup.

As a pair, Abougzir and Westerhof are ranked No. 37 in doubles with a 9-6 dual match record at the top spot.

The Seminoles are coming off of two 6-1 victories over Boston College and No. 68 Maryland, while the Tar Heels picked up a 5-2 win against No. 32 Georgia Tech and a 4-3 victory against No. 14 Clemson last weekend. North Carolina’s only loss of the season was a 4-3 defeat at No. 25 Wake Forest on March 21.

The Seminoles and Tar Heels have faced three common opponents: Clemson, Notre Dame and South Carolina. UNC was perfect against the teams, while FSU fell by just one point (4-3) to the Irish.

As for Duke, the Blue Devils dropped just their third match of the season yesterday (March 29) at No. 15 Virginia Commonwealth University, 4-3. The Seminoles and Blue Devils have faced six teams in common this season: Baylor, Clemson, Illinois, Notre Dame, Pepperdine and Texas A&M. Duke went 4-2 against these teams, while the Seminoles were 1-5.

Florida State Rankings/Notes

  • The Seminoles’ Ytai Abougzir is the lone player ranked in singles (No. 65) with a 10-4 dual record on the season.
  • Abougzir and Chris Westerhof make up the No. 37 pair in the nation.
  • Sophomore Sam Chang is 7-2 in Florida State’s last 10 matches. He sat out against Boston College. FSU freshman Chris Cloer has come on strong during the last month with a 7-3 record in his last 10 appearances.
  • Freshman Ryan Boyajian logged the first tennis match of his collegiate career against Boston College last Sunday. He and partner Jonathas Sucupira won 8-3 against the Eagles’ Jason Sechrist and Geoff Mueller in doubles.
  • The freshmen duo of Andrew Bailey and Maciek Sykut own the team’s top doubles mark with an 11-6 dual match record on the season.
  • In singles, FSU wins over 70 percent of its matches at the third position (12-5).

North Carolina Rankings/Notes

  • Senior Raian Luchici, ranked No. 10 in singles, is 13-3 in singles dual matches on the season.
  • He has won five of his last six outings competing at No. 1 singles.
  • In doubles, Luchici and his partner Brad Pomeroy are the highest-ranked pair in the ACC with a No. 6 national ranking.
  • Luchici and Pomeroy have lost three of their last five matches.
  • Also in doubles, David Stone and Lenny Gullan are ranked No. 79 in doubles action. The duo switches off between No. 2 and 3 doubles.
  • UNC leads the all-time series with FSU, 8-22.

Duke Rankings/Notes

  • Duke has three players ranked nationally.
  • Senior Ludovic Walter is the highest-ranked singles player in the ACC with a No. 5 national ranking. He is 11-3 in dual matches. He has lost two of his last four matches in a tiebreaker.
  • Also for Duke, Jonathan Stokke and Peter Rodrigues are No. 37 and No. 62 in singles, respectively. Stokke competes at No. 2 and Rodrigues plays No. 3 singles.
  • In doubles action, the Atas/Stokke pair ranks No. 30 nationally.
  • Duke leads the all-time series with FSU, 4-19.
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