TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State men’s tennis team is off to a terrific start at the 2014 USTA/ITA Southeast Regionals in Athens, Ga., notching a 7-1 record on the day and a perfect 4-0 mark in singles play. The Seminoles placed four entrants into the Singles Main Draw that began Friday, and all four are still playing into the Second Round.
“All four guys that we brought up here came ready to go and were well prepared for the level of competition this tournament brings,” associate coach Nick Crowell said. “The extra work these four guys put in this week really showed today and we are off to a hot start at regionals.”
The day began with two rounds of doubles play that featured two Seminole teams: No. 1 seed Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez, ranked 10th in the country and the defending champions in this event, and Cristian Gonzalez Mendez and Jose Gracia, playing together for the first time this season. For Lock and Nunez, they breezed through the first match of the day, a Round of 32 match against Julian Bradley and Zach Goldberg of North Florida the ‘Noles won 8-1. In the Round of 16 held immediately after the first match, Lock and Nunez were able to break the duo of Christopher Eubanks and Nathan Rakitt of Georgia Tech in the first set and held serve the remainder of the way, beating the Yellow Jackets 8-6.
“Ben and Marco embraced the challenge of being the No. 1 seed and defending their title,” Crowell said. “They were able to take care of business, and now they have to continue playing well against tough competition the next two days.”
For Gonzalez Mendez and Gracia, they began the day against Tianyu Bao and Austin Bates of Florida Gulf Coast, beating the Eagles pair 8-5. In the Round of 16, the duo were dealt the only Seminole loss of the day, 8-4 against No. 42 Diego Hidalgo and Gordon Watson of Florida.
In singles play, each participant played a first round match, and the Seminoles went 4-0 on the day. Gracia started the afternoon of singles play against Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz of South Florida, taking a straight sets victory 6-1, 6-3. Crowell was impressed with Gracia’s play against a tough opponent in a difficult environment.
“Jose stepped up and really was able to show what he can do against good players,” Crowell said. “He was aggressive and played smart, two things that helped him beat a good player from USF.”
The second Seminole singles match featured No. 8 seed (and No. 79 nationally) Lock taking on Oliver Landert of Florida, a qualifier that won two matches Thursday just to make the 64-player field. Lock took the match 6-4, 7-6 (3).
Gonzalez Mendez, seeded 9-16 and ranked No. 103 in the country, also faced a tiebreaker against Alejandro Valencia of Kennesaw State, winning in straight sets 7-6 (5), 7-5.
“Both Cristian and Ben were against the wall and forced to play a tiebreaker,” Crowell said. “The fact both won in straight sets in a tiebreaker is huge for our team and their confidence moving forward.”
The final singles match saw Nunez defeat Kyle Hoffman of Georgia Southern, 6-2, 6-2.
Moving forward, Saturday will begin with Lock and Nunez facing Eric Diaz and Austin Smith of Georgia in doubles play at 9 a.m in the semifinals. Only one round of doubles play will take place Saturday.
In singles play, Gracia (vs. Jack Findel-Hawkins, UNF), Lock (vs. Justin Roberts, USF), and Nunez (vs. Carlos Benito, Georgia Tech) are scheduled to take the court at 11 a.m. for their matches. Gonzalez Mendez (vs. Francesc Aulina, UCF) will take the court no earlier than 12 p.m.
For continued coverage of the Southeast Regionals, visit Seminoles.com or follow the team on Twitter @FSU_MTennis for updates as they happen.
Day 1 Results
Singles First Round:
(8) Benjamin Lock (FSU) def. Oliver Landert (Florida), 6-4, 7-6 (3)
(9-16) Cristian Gonzalez Mendez (FSU) def. Alejandro Valencia (KSU), 7-6 (5), 7-5
Jose Gracia (FSU) def. Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz (USF), 6-1, 6-3
Marco Nunez (FSU) def. Kyle Hoffman (GSU), 6-2, 6-2
Doubles Second Round:
Doubles Third Round:
(1) Lock/Nunez (FSU) def. Christopher Eubanks/Nathan Rakitt (GT), 8-6
(5-8) Diego Hidalgo/Gordon Watson (Florida) def. Gonzalez Mendez/Gracia (FSU) 8-4