May 13, 2011
By Zach Mendelson, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 12 Florida State women’s tennis team (15-8, 10-5) will open the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, May 14 as it faces Southern University Jaguars (11-12) at 9:00 a.m. CST. The match will be played at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. The second match of the day will feature No. 31 Texas A&M against No. 32 Southern Methodist at 12:00 p.m. and the winner of both matches will battle in the second round on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
“We have had a solid few weeks of some very good practices leading up to these NCAA Championships,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “It’s been a few weeks since their last competition for everyone who is playing in the NCAA’s, and I know we are certainly hungry to get back to competing again. That is where this team really shines, especially as they have for most of the last few months. We’re just ready to get out there and lace up our shoes and keep this momentum alive.”
Coming off an impressive end to the regular season and tremendous showing at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship that included an eight match winning streak and their second ACC Championship Title Match appearance, FSU will look to begin another winning streak beginning with Southern.
“I think when you come off a last six weeks like we’ve come off of, the confidence is there, and it is built in to each person on the team,” Hyde said. “Everyone might be a little nervous at the start of our first match, which is to be expected, but they will settle in to their matches and take things one point at a time. The schedule we have has given us so many looks at the best teams in the nation, so we are ready for this post-season and are very experienced on the big stage after the last 2-3 months of competition. This team knows and believes how capable they are, and they are excited for the last few miles of this marathon season to begin. They are ready.”
Overall this marks the Seminoles 15th all-time NCAA appearance. This match will mark the first ever match between the two schools. Southern has won back to back Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships and makes their second straight NCAA appearance. Overall the Lady Jaguars have won the SWAC in six out of the last nine years. If successful in defeating the Jaguars, FSU will make its fifth all-time appearance in the second round of the tournament.
While this will be the first match ever between the Seminoles and Jaguars, Florida State has a little more history against the Aggies and Mustangs. FSU leads the all-time series against the Texas A&M, 2-0 winning in back to back season in 1994-95. The Aggies women’s tennis team has reached the NCAA’s 11 straight years. The Seminoles also hold a 3-2 all-time series lead against SMU with the most recent match dating back to 1992 when head coach Jennifer Hyde was an athlete for Florida State. This marks SMU their third straight NCAA Championship selection as the Mustangs have advanced to the second round each of the past two years.
To be successful the Garnet and Gold will look to No. 31 Katie Rybakova, No. 51 Noemie Scharle to lead the squad alongside senior Federica Suess who holds the team’s all-time best singles mark with 104 victories. With upcoming young talents such as All-ACC sophomore Francesca Segarelli, streaking sophomore Amy Sargeant and red-hot freshman Ruth Seaborne the Seminoles appear to be peaking at exactly the right time.
“For me, it’s always been important to go out there with the right mentality and the right mind set,” said Rybakova. “I think going out there knowing that it’s my last game and knowing it’s my last tournament is really going to help me (make the most out of the moment). I think we really have to go in with that mind set, just like we did at ACC’s. We need to come together and play as a team, go out there, work hard, compete, and fight. We need to not look at the opponent per say but just go out there and play our game. Hopefully if we do that, regardless of the opponent, we’ll do well.”
Despite having a national seed, the Seminoles were surprisingly not selected to host. Because of that, the Seminoles completed their last practice of the season at the Scott Speicher Tennis Courts on Wednesday.
“I was pretty sure we were hosting so I really didn’t think about the possibility that I have played my last match at home,” said senior Federica Suess. It’s pretty emotional and very exciting. We had a really good week of practice, worked really hard last week and I think we are ready to go. Knowing that we’ve done it already is probably something good to have in the back of our mind. Every year is different; every year is a new team, a new environment with different matches and different matchups. We’ve never really played out west so we have no idea what the level is because rankings don’t reflect what a team is about. It’s definitely exciting.”
Seminole fans can follow the team on Facebook on the Florida State women’s tennis fan page and Twitter @FSU_WTennis.
NCAA Tennis Championships: 1st/2nd Round Schedule
(George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, College Station, TX.)
Saturday, May 14
9:00 a.m. Women’s First Round: Florida State vs. Southern
12:00 p.m. Women’s First Round: Texas A&M vs. SMU
Sunday, May 15
1:00 p.m. Women’s Second Round Match TBA