May 24, 2011
By Zach Mendelson, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State senior Katie Rybakova and sophomore Noemie Scharle will open up the 2011 NCAA Division I Singles Championship Wednesday, May 25 at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Draws are expected to be released later today.
“It definitely has a different feel to it when you head out there with only two players,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “I know the girls would much prefer that the whole team be out there this weekend but kudos to them for making the national tournament and the final 64. It’s a very hard draw to get into and I know they have some goals set for this week. I know they have All-American aspirations, winning two rounds at least. They are not quite ready to be done with this season so we are excited to get out there.”
Ranked 31st in the nation, Rybakova travels to the championships for the third time in her career. Consistently ranked her entire career, Rybakova earned a spot on the All-ACC team for the fourth year in a row. One of the few accomplishments that has escaped her is winning at the individual championships, where she fell in the first round during the 2008 and 2009. This season Rybakova enters the championships with a 24-16 overall record and 10 victories over nationally-ranked opponents including No. 7 Allie Will of Florida (twice), No. 36 Anna Bartenstein of Miami, No. 38 Martina Pavelec of Wake Forest (twice) and No. 39 Nadine Fahoum of Duke (twice).
“It’s definitely a bummer to go out to California without the rest of the team, but we are looking forward to going out there together and competing,” said Rybakova. “This is my last tournament so it’s really all or nothing for me now. My goal is to finish my career on a good note and hopefully I will do that.”
Rybakova knows that be able to accomplish her goals she will have to defeat some of the nation’s top talent.
“The first two years I competed at Individuals I lost in the first round and that’s because the competition you face is really top notch,” added Rybakova. “You go out there to face other highly ranked opponents and that’s fun in a way because you know you will get great competition and a great match with whomever you step on court with.”
Joining Rybakova is No. 51 Scharle who began the 2011 season as the highest ranked Seminole (No. 18) and has proven to be one of the most consistent players on the squad. The Colmar Berg, Luxembourg native enters her second individual championships with an impressive 19-11 overall record including nine victories over ranked opponents such as No. 20 Reke Zsilinska of Duke, No. 35 Irene Rehberger of USF, No. 39 Nadine Fahoum of Duke (twice) and No. 74 Shinann Featherston of North Carolina.
“It’s really disappointing that we didn’t make it, because we played so well before, so it’s a big disappointment for me and the team,” said Scharle. “I know our coaches had really high expectations, so hopefully Katie and I can go into singles and make it a little better for them and have some personal success at the end of the season.”
Rybakova and Scharle both competed together during the 2009 Individual Championships and the experience from playing in big matches has prepared them well for the 2011 tournament.
“They are both very experienced players, both nationally and internationally,” Hyde said. “You play college tennis to go to compete at the national championships. They are both very seasoned, they have been in big match situations before, and I think it’s a good time for them to finish this very successful year off right.”
Following the Individual Championships the team will break off for the summer break and begin their preparation for another magical run in 2012.
“It’s taken a couple days to let the sting of last weekend go,” Hyde said. “I think we tried to think about where we fell short and where we can improve for next season. We have the goal of being among the top ten teams in the country and we were right on the cusp of that this season. It’s been good to have a couple days to sit back and reflect on all the great things that did happen this year. The way this team came together was really special. A group of seven individuals, with all they accomplished in one short semester, is hard to overlook. It’s very important we remember that and not minimize all the hard work and accomplishments because it was nothing short of a tremendous season.”
“I can’t wait for next season,” added Scharle. “I think we will have a great upper class and we will just need to be leaders and try to guide the younger players. If we do that I think we can be really good. Fran, Amy and I are really good friends and work well together, so I think we have a lot to look forward to.”
“In retrospect I feel we did great this season,” concluded Rybakova. “We had a little bump in the beginning of the season and we overcame that. We beat two teams ranked among the top five in the nation and that was a great accomplishment for us, especially with that being senior weekend. I think overall we did a great job and I am really proud of everybody and proud to be a Seminole. It’s been a fun ride and I am looking forward to going out and competing one last time.”
Live stats and video of the singles and doubles championships can be found at www.ncaa.com. Follow the Seminoles on the Florida State Women’s Tennis fan page on Facebook and Twitter @FSU_WTENNIS.