Blacksburg, Va. – Florida State won its third straight match against a ranked opponent Friday night, beating No. 40 Virginia Tech 4-3 at the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center in Blacksburg. After losing the doubles point for just the third time this season, the Seminoles secured four singles wins, including three third-set tiebreakers. Looking for just its second road victory of the season, Florida State dropped the doubles point to the Hokies and quickly fell into a 1-0 hole.
The FSU pair of Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez, who entered 11-0 on the season, fell 6-4 to No. 21 Andreas Bjerrehus and Joao Monteiro. Playing together for the first time this spring, sophomore Jose Gracia and junior Jack Haffey fell 6-3 on Court 3.
Needing to win four singles matches for the victory, FSU tied it up with a straight-set win on Court 1 by the 30th-ranked Lock over No. 18 Monteiro, 6-3, 6-2. Lock, the reigning ACC Player of the Week, beat his third consecutive opponent ranked in the ITA Top 40 after wins last week against No. 1 players from North Carolina and Duke.
Virginia Tech struck back, taking a 3-1 lead with a straight set win on Court 6 and a three-set win on Court 3. With the final three courts in a third set, FSU had to take all three to extend their winning streak to three straight. Nunez, who beat No. 12 Ronnie Schneider of North Carolina last week, overcame a 2-0 hole in the third to force a tiebreaker, which he eventually won, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (1). Shortly thereafter, freshman Aziz Dougaz beat the second ranked opponent of his career with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8) win on Court 4 over No. 59 Edoardo Tessaro to even the match.
With the score tied 3-3, Gracia trailed 5-4 in the third set against Mitch Harper having to break to stave off a Hokie win. He came through, eventually forcing the third three-set tiebreaker of the match. Leading 5-4 in the tiebreaker, Gracia used a mini-break to clinch the 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (4) win and a 4-3 win for the Seminoles.
Head coach Dwayne Hultquist:
“It was an unbelievable match. For us to win against a very tough program in Virginia Tech, who hosted an NCAA regional last year and has a lot of seniors in their lineup, was huge. It was a tough day. We overcame the adversity of not winning doubles. We had a good start to the singles portion, winning four first sets. When Jose fought back in the second set to force a third, that was a turning point for us. Aziz was clutch, overcoming a break down in the third for the win.
“It follows up our successes from last weekend, against North Carolina and Duke, and to win this match on the road really speaks to our seniors and our team to fight hard and not give up. Three matches we could have lost in a tiebreaker and we won all three. I love the spirit with our guys doing the Seminole chant. Our players really got behind Jose in the clincher. I’m proud of Jose for competing after being down in the third, he was winning points at the net. Great team effort.”
On senior Benjamin Lock:
“Ben’s on fire. In the ACC, he’s playing a Top 20 player almost every match. He beat a player today that was in the finals of the National Indoors, a darn good player. Ben’s success comes from his approach to the game – we show up to practice, he’s on the courts ready to go, training hard. He beat a good player, a great player, today. Beating him today at his place was huge.”
Sophomore Jose Gracia:
“I was just taking it point by point in the tiebreaker. I never really thought about the moment, just wanted to keep playing my game. I was able to fight back from an early mini-break and my teammates kept cheering me on.
“I knew I was going to step up. I hit a backhand passing shot and took it to him. It was a very competitive match.”
– Lock’s Player of the Week honor was the first of his career and the first for any Seminole since February 2014.
– The Noles win was just the second of the season on the road, after a 7-0 win at Clemson to open ACC play. The Noles are 8-0 at home this season.
– Lock’s singles win was the 84th of his career, moving him into a tie for ninth place in school history with Sam Chang (2004-08). His 173 combined wins are good for fourth all time.
Florida State will stay in Virginia and face top-ranked Virginia Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm. The next home match is March 24 against Georgia Tech as part of the USTA College MatchDay. The match will stream live on ESPN3 with Mark Bey and Ariya Massoudi providing commentary.
For more information on Florida State tennis, check Seminoles.com for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSU_MTennis), Facebook (/FSUMTennis), and Instagram (@FSU_Mtennis).
#23 Florida State 4, #40 Virginia Tech 3
March 18, 2016 – Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center Tennis Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
#30 Benjamin Lock (FSU) def. #18 Joao Monteiro (VT), 6-3, 6-2
#97 Marco Nunez (FSU) def. Andreas Bjerrehus (VT), 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (1)
Amerigo Contini (VT) def. Michael Rinaldi (FSU), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
Aziz Dougaz (FSU) def. #59 Edoardo Tessaro (VT), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8)
Jose Gracia (FSU) def. Mitch Harper (VT), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (4)
Aaron Gomez (VT) def. Jake Albo (FSU), 7-6 (2), 6-3
#21 Bjerrehus/Monteiro (VT) def. #26 Lock/Nunez (FSU), 6-4
Dougaz/Rinaldi (FSU) vs. Contini/Tessaro (VT), 5-2, dnf.
Jai Corbett/Harper (VT) def. Gracia/Jack Haffey (FSU), 6-3
Order of Finish – Singles: 1,6,3,2,4,5; Doubles: 3,1