March 31, 2011
By Zach Mendelson, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 34 Florida State women’s tennis team (7-6, 2-3) looks to move up the ACC standings with a pair of conference matches at home this weekend. The team first hosts No. 34 NC State Wolfpack (10-5, 1-4) on Friday, April 1 at 4:00 p.m. and then again on Sunday against No. 50 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-9, 0-5) at noon at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.
“This is a big weekend for us, both teams we are about to see are very solid and deep, so we are expecting a tough challenge,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “NC State has had a really good year. They have had a really big push the past few weeks and they have taken some really good teams to the limit. Wake Forest as always is going to be a very competitive team. This is by far one of the biggest weekends we have had at home, and we have to take full advantage of playing in front of our home crowd.”
Facing tough opponents is not something new to this team. Florida State has already faced a difficult schedule with 12 of their 13 previous opponents ranked by the ITA this season. All six losses have come to teams currently ranked in the top 40 of the nation with five against top 25 opponents.
“Right now we just have to take it a match at a time,” Hyde said. “The big thing right now this teams process and going through it, with each success and failure that comes along the way. We have to continue to go through all of the challenges and enjoy every step along the way. As long as we continue growing as a team and continue improving, I know the best is still ahead for this team.”
Senior Katie Rybakova (Coral Springs, Fla.) is leading the team with 17 wins in singles and is ranked No. 42 in the nation. Redshirt sophomore Noemie Scharle (Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg) is currently ranked at No. 62. Having faced the Wolfpack and Demon Deacons several times in her career, Rybakova knows the Seminoles will have to bring their best effort.
“I think our prior matches with them (NC State and Wake Forest) have been close and have always been tough,” said Rybakova. “Last year we came out on top, but at the same time it was tough matches. Both of them have really good doubles teams and some very talented singles players. It will be nice to be playing at home again, but we expect a very competitive weekend.”
The Seminoles have had a lot of success against the Wolfpack, holding a 17-2 all-time record over NC State, and winning the previous three matches by a 17-1 margin. Current ‘Noles Rybakova, Federica Suess (Ludwigshafen, Germany), Francesca Segarelli (Rome, Italy) and Amy Sargeant (Walsall, England) all earned singles wins against the Wolfpack last year.
NC State comes to Tallahassee with two ranked singles players in No. 29 Sanaa Bhambri and No. 83 Sandhya Nagaraj. Bhambri and Nagaraj also stand out as the No. 26 tandem in doubles play.
Wake Forest features the No. 24 player in the country in Martina Pavelec. The Demon Deacons also possess the No. 14 doubles tandem in Kathryn Talbert and Kayla Duncan.
“The doubles point very well could be the deciding factor for our matches this weekend, said Hyde. “We are going to have to play close attention to that and make sure we get the job done in that side of the court.”
Overall Florida State is 10-19 all-time against Wake Forest, but the Seminoles have been victorious against the Demon Deacons in the previous four matches. Last season the Seminoles won a close 4-3 win over Wake Forest in Winston Salem as Sargeant clinched the winning point in the second to last match.
Check back on Seminoles.com for live stats and results. As always fans can follow the women’s tennis team on Twitter @FSU_WTENNIS and Facebook on the Florida State Women’s Tennis fan page.