March 30, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla.- Although the No. 12-ranked Florida State women’s tennis team dropped a close 4-3 decision to No. 6 Duke, the atmosphere inside Scott Speicher Tennis Center never felt defeated. A team loss to a top-ten conference opponent took a backseat to several huge individual wins that will give the Seminoles (13-3, 3-3) momentum going into Wednesday’s final home match against No. 3 Georgia Tech.
“There were a lot of individual hurdles today that some of the girls got over,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to get over a team hurdle, but we came very close. The difference in today’s match was that we didn’t play the biggest points with the courage that we needed to beat these top ten teams. Still, I’m unbelievably proud of the competitive fire again that the girls displayed.”
Freshman Katie Rybakova, ranked 33rd in the nation, had her best match to date in a garnet and gold uniform as she secured a triumphant 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 upset against Duke’s No. 14 Ellah Nze.
However, the defeat wasn’t Rybakova’s crowning accomplishment of the day. Her singles win could not trump the 8-6 victory Rybakova and junior Ania Rynarzewska secured over the No. 3 doubles team in the country, Melissa Mang and Amanda Granson.
“Both of those wins were huge,” said Hyde. “With these big singles matches, Katie has been so close on so many occasions. She has been right in the mix with so many of these players and for Katie to get over that hurdle on a day like this was tremendous for her. She needed that win and she went out and got it.”
Coupled with a 6-2, 7-5 win from fellow freshman Federica Suess earlier in the day, Rybakova’s singles win meant that the much-coveted conference victory came down to the final two matches on court.
For the second time in three days senior Carolin Walter felt the brunt of the team’s hopes resting on her shoulders. The German-native forced the No. 17-ranked player in the country Reka Zsilinszka to earn her win in the third set. Although Walter could not hold on for the win, falling 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, she helped keep the momentum moving for the Seminoles onto the spotlight court where teammate Lauren Macfarlane was battling out Florida State’s last singles match of the day.
Macfarlane and Duke’s Tara Iyer went round and round all day, pushing each other to the limit. The Utah-native came up short in the first set 5-7, powered back to win the second 6-4 and entered into a grinding third set for the win. More than an hour after the Seminoles loss was decided, Macfarlane kept at her opponent straight into a third-set tiebreaker point where she finally earned a powerful court one victory 7-6(5).
Florida State might have been able to pull out the win over the Blue Devils had they been able to secure the doubles point earlier in the day. Rynarzewska and Rybakova’s triumph on court one gave the Seminoles a chance to get an early lead on the Blue Devils.
But sophomores Macfarlane and Jessica Wente fell short 8-3 to Ellah Nze and Zsilinszka in the number three doubles spot, leaving the crucial point in the hands of Walter and Suess on court two.
The German duo kept the pace with Duke’s Tory Zawacki and Jess Robinson throughout most of the match. In the end, the Seminoles could not hold on, falling just short of victory with a 9-7 final score.
In singles play, Rynarzewska nearly forced a third set on court six to fight for the Seminoles’ second singles win of the day, but couldn’t hold on, succumbing to a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Robinson.
Down on court four, Wente did force a third set after losing her first 6-2. The Texas-native pushed her opponent, Mang, to the limit but ran out of steam in the final set, losing 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in the end.
“They’re working very hard out there,” said Hyde. “There are definitely a lot of very positive things that have happened in the last week that we will definitely take as momentum into our final home match.”
Florida State will be back in action Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. to face the defending national champion Yellow Jackets in the Seminoles’ final home match of the season. The Black Out match will also serve as senior day for Walter and Tapiwa Marobela.
Free pizza, T-shirts and prizes will be available for all fans in attendance.
#12 FSU – 3, #6 DUKE – 4
1- #53 Rynarzewska/Rybakova (FSU) def. #3 Mang/Granson (DU) 8-6
2- Robinson/Zawacki (DU) def. Walter/Suess (FSU) 9-7
3- Nze/Zsilinszka (DU) def. Wente/Macfarlane (FSU) 8-3
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2
1- #68 Lauren Macfarlane (FSU) def. Tara Iyer (DU) 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(5)
2- #33 Katie Rybakova (FSU) def. #14 Ellah Nze (DU) 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
3- #17 Reka Zsilinszka (DU) def. #100 Carolin Walter (FSU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
4- Melissa Mang (DU) def. Jessica Wente (FSU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
5- Federica Suess (FSU) def. Amanda Granson (DU) 6-2, 7-5
6- Jess Robinson (DU) def. Ania Rynarzewska (FSU) 6-4, 7-5
Order of finish: 5, 6, 4, 2, 3, 1