March 28, 2008
Tallahassee, Fla.- It was like déjà vu for the No. 21 Florida State women’s tennis squad. With a crucial conference victory hanging in the balances, it all came down to the final singles match. But this time the Seminoles (13-3, 3-2) came out on top, posting a 4-3 upset over No. 12 North Carolina (12-6, 3-2) at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center on Friday, March 28.
Senior Carolin Walter didn’t know the Seminoles’ fate was in her hands until her final hit grazed the far inside corner of the court. With a sheepish smile, Walter was enveloped by her team–who had not only avenged a 4-3 loss last weekend at Virginia, but a nasty 7-0 defeat in Chapel Hill last year against the Tarheels.
“Anytime you’re in that situation and it’s on the line there’s a lot of pressure,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “Of course she was so focused she didn’t even know she was in that position. But when she realized she’d pulled out the win, you could see the tears of joy in her eyes because we’ve gone from one extreme to the other in five days.”
Walter’s 6-4, 7-6(2) victory won in a grinding tiebreaker was a fitting end to the day after the senior and freshman Federica Suess came up just short of a doubles victory in another heart-wrenching tiebreak that kept the Seminoles from securing the doubles point.
Entering the singles competition, FSU needed four wins to take the team victory. The first Seminole to move the team toward its goal was junior Ania Rynarzewska with a dominant 6-2, 6-1 defeat of UNC’s Meg Fanjoy on court five.
Next came a major comeback win from sophomore Jessica Wente who was down 1-4 in the first set on court four before rallying back to win seven straight points. In the end Wente overpowered the Tarheels’ Laura Reichert 6-4, 6-1 to even the Seminoles’ score at 2-2.
“Jess did a great job,” said Hyde. “She was down but far from out. She just committed herself to staying in the point and not making any unnecessary mistakes. She stuck with it and I think that win for her was a huge confidence boost.”
For a moment after Wente’s victory it seemed freshman No. 33 Katie Rybakova might rally back from an 0-3 deficit in her second set on court two. Rybakova pushed Katrina Tsang to the limit, tying the match at 5-5 and forcing her Tarheel opponent to really dig in for the 6-4, 7-5 win.
In the end, it was another freshman, Suess, whose 6-4, 6-1 upset on court six kept the Seminoles alive and gave her doubles partner, Walter, the chance to clinch the win for FSU.
The upset not only gave Florida State a major conference win, but also provided the team substantial momentum going into their two most difficult matches of the season against No. 6 Duke on Sunday, March 30 and No. 3 Georgia Tech on Wednesday, April 2.
“Any win is big,” said Hyde. “But we’ve got some enormous opportunities ahead of us and to take this first one with such spirit is huge for our confidence going into Sunday’s match against the Blue Devils.”
The Duke game will mark the Seminoles’ first encounter with the Blue Devils since beating them for the first time in 24 years last spring in Durham.
Sunday’s match will also mark a special occasion as the Seminoles honor those whose lives have been affected by breast cancer with their annual Think Pink game. The event marks the culmination of FSU’s season-long campaign to raise money for the Susan G. Komen, For the Cure foundation. So far, Florida State has raised nearly $2,000 for the charity.
As always, free pizza, free T-shirts and a few special prizes will be available to all fans in attendance at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center. The match against Duke is set to get under way at 12:00 p.m.
FSU 4, UNC 3
1-#10 Marand/Grabinski (UNC) def. #53 Rynarzewska/Rybakova (FSU) 8-3
2-Smith/Tsang (UNC) def. Walter/Suess (FSU) 9-8(5)
3-Wente/Macfarlane (FSU) def. Jurewitz/Reichert (UNC) 8-5
Order of finish: 1, 3, 2*
1-#9 Sanaz Marand (UNC) def. #68 Lauren Macfarlane (FSU) 6-3, 6-3
2-Katrina Tsang (UNC) def. #33 Katie Rybakova (FSU) 6-4, 7-5
3-#100 Carolin Walter (FSU) def. Austin Smith (UNC) 6-3, 7-6(2)
4-Jessica Wente (FSU) def. Laura Reichert (UNC) 6-4, 6-1
5-Ania Rynarzewska (FSU) def. Sophie Grabinksi (UNC) 6-2, 6-1
6-Federica Suess (FSU) def. Meg Fanjoy (UNC) 6-4, 6-1
Order of finish: 5, 1, 4, 2, 6, 3*
* = Point-clinching match