Notre Dame, Ind. – In front of a hostile crowd Friday evening, No. 22 Florida State (14-6, 6-3 ACC) pulled off a stunning, come-from-behind 4-3 victory over No. 51 Notre Dame (10-11, 4-5 ACC) at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. The Seminoles won the doubles point and the final three singles matches in a contest that lasted nearly four hours. Forced indoors due to weather and with the start time pushed back three and a half hours, Florida State snapped a four-match doubles skid with wins on Courts 2 and 3 that gave the Noles a 1-0 lead heading into singles.
No. 59 Aziz Dougaz and Michael Rinaldi broke a personal three-match losing streak with a 6-3 win over Grayson Broadus and Josh Hagar on Court 2, while sophomores Jose Gracia and Terrance Whitehurst won for the fourth consecutive match and moved to 6-1 in ACC play with a 6-4 clincher on Court 3 over Eddy Covalschi and Kenneth Sabacinski.
With the 1-0 lead, Florida State came out flat in singles, dropping five first sets as Notre Dame quickly regained momentum. The Irish tied the score at 1-all with a 6-4, 6-0 win on Court 4 by Alex Lawson over Dougaz.
The remaining five courts were all much closer. Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead with a 6-4, 6-4 win on Court 3 from Covalschi over Rinaldi. In a third set, Jake Albo fell to Sabacinski 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to give the home team a 3-1 lead.
Needing to win the remaining three courts to leave Indiana with a win, senior Marco Nunez finished off a long, drawn-out straight set win over Hagar on Court 2, 7-6 (2), 7-5 for one of the three points the Noles needed. Gracia faced match point down 5-3 in the third set before forcing a tiebreaker that he won, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to even the score.
The final match on was between seniors Notre Dame’s Quentin Monaghan and FSU’s Benjamin Lock. Last season, Monaghan came to Tallahassee and handed Lock his worst loss of the year, 6-1, 6-0, and the Irish escaped with a 4-3 win. This season proved to be much closer, with Monaghan taking the first set in a tiebreaker, while Lock rallied for a 6-3 second set.
In the third, Lock picked up an early break before both players held serve until 5-3, when Monaghan finally broke Lock on a deuce point to extend the match. Monaghan proceeded to win the next two games to take a 6-5 lead before Lock again broke on a deuce point, second serve backhand down the line.
In the tiebreaker, Lock led 6-4 before smashing a winner that Monaghan’s racket grazed for a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (4) win. After the point, Lock was mobbed by his teammates as he collapsed to the ground.
Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist:
“Unbelievable win for us, to be able to beat them indoors. I respect them as a team and how they fight. Great win for us. Come from behind, down 3-1, had to win the last three matches. Marco got us off to a start with his win, then Jose was down a match point and pulled out a tiebreaker win, then Ben, with the crowd on him, he faced match point before winning in a tiebreaker. I’m proud of our effort tonight. Great team win for us. Shows what can happen when you don’t quit and continue to fight.”
On the importance of the doubles point:
“We didn’t play our best doubles tonight. We had a chance at No. 1 and got beat. Those guys for Notre Dame have played great all year. We spent this week working on doubles, and it paid off on 2 and 3. I liked how we finished it serving at 2 and 3.”
On different guys coming through this season:
“The thing is, with our seniors when they’re battling, we’re in the match. We have things to work on and guys that need to improve, but our seniors, and Jose, and Aziz against North Carolina, have been big. We need everyone to come through at different times. It’s different people on different days. They’ve all contributed to winning. We’re doing a good job of being in matches.”
On regrouping for Sunday’s match in Tallahassee against No. 18 Oklahoma:
“It’s brutal. It’s a difficult turnaround for us, but they’re also on the road. It’s definitely a challenge, but we didn’t have many choices scheduling. They were the national runner-up and I wanted our guys to have a chance to play a school like Oklahoma.”
Senior Benjamin Lock:
“I had to focus on my court and stay as tough as I can. I couldn’t tell what was happening on the other courts. Monaghan made balls in that third set to come back from 5-2. Down 6-5, I just took my time and kept with my game plan and stayed aggressive. On the deuce break, I just told myself, ‘Go for it’. In the tiebreaker, it was just emotion. Not keeping track of the score, just crushing the ball and being aggressive.”
On facing Monaghan after losing to him last season:
“I had that in the back of my mind and I was fired up. I blew a 6-2 tiebreaker lead in the first set today, but I kept in the match. I really wanted to beat him and Notre Dame. They’re a good team, especially at home. They’re tough. Our team was so strong. We played good doubles. Marco was solid against a guy that had beaten him twice, and Jose fought off a match point. Great team victory on the road.”
On winning a pair of 4-3 road matches in ACC play:
“It shows the confidence we have in ourselves and our team. Big shots at big moments. Same story as Virginia Tech – guys aren’t going to give it to us. Before, we were playing not to lose. You won’t make every shot, but it will pay off if you play to win. A lot of experience in tough situations. Don’t crumble, stay strong. Everyone trusts each other on the team knowing they have the experience in big moments.”
– Dougaz and Rinaldi’s doubles win was the 12th of the dual match season for the pair, good for fourth place in the ACC. Teammates Lock and Nunez are right behind them with 11 wins.
– Rinaldi’s 17th doubles win of the season sets a career-high, surpassing 2013-14’s 16.
– Lock tied a career high with his 21st singles win on the season. It was also his 86th career singles win, tying him with Scott Blessing (1982-85) for seventh on the school’s all-time list.
– The win was the sixth of the year in the ACC, matching last season’s win total with three matches left.
Florida State opens a four-match homestand at 12 p.m. Sunday against No. 18 Oklahoma.
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).
#22 Florida State def. #51 Notre Dame, 4-3
April 1, 2016 – Eck Tennis Pavilion, Notre Dame, Ind.
#12 Benjamin Lock (FSU) def. #33 Quentin Monaghan (ND), 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (4)
#60 Marco Nunez (FSU) def. Josh Hagar (ND), 7-6 (2), 7-5
Eddy Covalschi (ND) def. Michael Rinaldi (FSU), 6-4, 6-4
Alex Lawson (ND) def. Aziz Dougaz (FSU), 6-4, 6-0
Jose Gracia (FSU) def. Grayson Broadus (ND), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3)
Kenneth Sabacinski (ND) def. Jake Albo (FSU), 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
#14 Lawson/Monaghan (ND) def. #11 Lock/Nunez (FSU), 6-4
#59 Dougaz/Rinaldi (FSU) def. Broadus/Hagar (ND), 6-3
Gracia/Terrance Whitehurst (FSU) def. Covalschi/Sabacinski (ND), 6-4
Order of Finish – Singles: 4,3,1,2,5,6; Doubles 1,2,3