RALEIGH, N.C. – The No. 33 Florida State Seminoles (15-9, 5-5 ACC) outlasted the North Carolina State Wolfpack (13-11, 4-5 ACC) to win 5-2 on Saturday afternoon at the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
With four of six singles courts needing three sets to decide, freshman Alex Knaff, who just last week was away representing his home country of Luxembourg in Davis Cup play, earned the first clinching victory of his young Seminole career, a thrilling 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 win over Sean Burnette on court six.
“I think Davis Cup helped me a lot because this match was very tight and the crowd was tough,” Knaff said. “The first two sets were very tight but I thought I did well to pull away with the third set to win.”
The match was the eighth singles appearance and just the third singles win overall for Knaff so far in dual match play.
“Alex played really well in Davis Cup and we thought it was time for him to get some time in the lineup and to get some confidence as a freshman,” head coach Dwayne Hultquist said.
The match was tight throughout, as the Seminoles found themselves behind early in doubles play, but No. 87 Lucas Poullain/Jose Gracia defeated Nick Horton/Georgiy Malyshev of NC State 6-4 on court two.
Finding themselves down early in the set, juniors Terrance Whitehurst and Terrell Whitehurst came back to defeat Igor Saveljic/Ivan Saveljic in a tiebreak 7-6(4) to secure the doubles point for the Noles.
“Terrance and Terrell coming back to win in doubles gave us the momentum to go out there and win,” Knaff said.
In singles play, the story was much of the same as four of the six singles courts went to third sets and were closely contested throughout.
Poullain was the fastest off the court for the Noles, winning 7-5, 6-2 aftering falling down 2-5 in the first set to give Florida State a 2-1 lead.
“I thought the turning point of the match was when Lucas came back to win the first set on court three,” Hultquist said.
As the remaining courts were into third sets, Gracia fell on court four to tie the match 2-2.
After dropping the second set, No. 73 junior Guy Iradukunda was able to gather and win the third set over No. 80 Nick Horton of NC State to take court two 6-4, 3-6, ,6-4 and allow the Seminoles to regain the lead.
Facing the pressure of the deciding court, Knaff was able to run away with the third set 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 to clinch the Florida State win.
On court one, No. 63 sophomore Aziz Dougaz played a rollercoaster of a match with No. 109 Alexis Galameau and was able to prevail in a third set tiebreak 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-6(5) to finish the match at 5-2 in favor of the Noles.
The wins for Dougaz and Iradukunda were each players’s sixth win over ITA-ranked opponents this season.
The Seminoles return home for the final weekend of the regular season for two nationally-televised matches on ACC Network Extra. On Friday April 21, Florida State will face off with the Virginia Tech Hokies, while on Sunday April 23 Florida State will host the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers Cavaliers on Senior Day.
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