Feb. 28, 2011
By Zach Mendelson, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 20 Florida State women’s tennis team (4-2, 1-1) will host the No. 2 Florida Gators (10-1, 0-0) this Tuesday, March 1st at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center in what will be certainly one of the most competitive matches of the season.
“We are very excited about game day tomorrow,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “This is a good opportunity for us to see where we are this season against one of the best teams in the nation. I feel we have made some very positive strides in the last few weeks, and we still have another two-thirds of the season left. There are still a lot of great things to look forward to, including the opportunity that is in front of us tomorrow. We have no reason to hold back or hesitate. It is once again time for this team to rise and put it all on the line.
Florida State is currently coming off a big 5-2 road victory over No. 15 Georgia Tech this past weekend as the Seminoles garnered its first ACC victory of the 2011 season. The team took advantage of the return of sophomore Amy Sargeant into the lineup and they look to continue their strong play from the win over the Yellow Jackets into this very important in-state rivalry matchup.
“We are definitely going to take the momentum we had from the Georgia Tech win and bring that same attitude to the courts tomorrow against the Gators,” added senior Katie Rybakova. “I think we are all really excited. As a senior playing on my home turf against the Gators, that is going to be a great experience and I am really excited for tomorrow.”
During last year’s match in Gainesville, Florida State was unable to pull through as they fell to the No. 9 Gators 7-0 at Linder Stadium. In 2009 however, Florida State defeated Florida at home, marking the first victory in program history over the Gators. The Seminoles are now looking to make that a second time in a row at home.
“The great thing about long standing rivalries, especially when you are playing at home, is that many things become equal that might otherwise not be,” said Hyde. “The emotions will be high on both sides of the net, and we all are excited about putting our gloves on and working hard tomorrow. We look forward to filling the stands tomorrow and having our fans push us through the evening. It will be an incredible college tennis match environment.”
For the Seminoles to pull off the upset, several players will have to step up to the challenge, but Hyde feels several players are up to the task.
“Fran (Segarelli) has been unbelievably consistent for us so far this semester,” said Hyde. “She has really come a long way with her game. She wants the opportunity to play high in the lineup, she wants to carry this team on her shoulders, and just time and time again she keeps coming through. Fede (Suess) has been playing the best tennis of her career thus far, and Katie (Rybakova) has been leading us at the number one spot. She had a great win against Georgia Tech, and I think us having that confidence at the top of our lineup really takes a lot of pressure of the younger players.”
One of the deciding factors in the match could be which team takes the doubles point, something the Seminoles have excelled at so far this season.
“Against Georgia Tech we were able to get that doubles point and I think that really gave us a lot of momentum heading into singles. I think having that opportunity and taking that opportunity against the Gators will be crucial for us,” said Rybakova.
While it may appear the cards are stacked against them, it’s has been when this team has its back against the wall that they have played their best tennis.
“I think going in as the underdog is one of our biggest strengths as a team, and I think that motivates us even more to go out there and prove to everyone that we are the better team,” said Rybakova.
“I think everyone is just really pumped, and we have nothing to lose,” said fellow senior Federica Suess. “They are ranked second and probably have their best team since I have been here. They are really strong, so I think everybody just needs to go out there and play their best tennis of the season tomorrow.”
Admission to the match is free. The first fans will receive a free FSU tennis car magnet. Fans can follow the match against Florida with live stats on http://www.seminoles.com/. Fans can continue to follow the women’s tennis team all year on Twitter @FSU_WTENNIS and Facebook on the Florida State Women’s Tennis fan page.