March 25, 2011
By Zach Mendelson, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a much-needed win last Thursday against the Georgia State Panthers, the No. 35 Florida State women’s tennis team (5-5, 1-2) now gets back into ACC play as they look to improve its conference and national standing. The Seminoles will open up the weekend on Saturday, March 26 against No. 57 Virginia Tech (9-7, 1-2) at 10:30 a.m. and then face a quick turnaround as they play No. 17 Virginia (13-3, 2-1) on Sunday, March 27 at 11:00 a.m.
“We have a tough series of ACC matches on the road this weekend at Virginia and Virginia Tech” head coach Jennifer Hyde said. “The girls are coming off a strong performance at home against Georgia State and need to carry that momentum up to Virginia with us. Practices since last week have been as good as they’ve been all semester and we have been focusing in on some specific things with each player. I’ll feel they are more ready for this weekend than any other weekend we have competed so far this spring.”
The extra time to prepare for the Hokies and Cavaliers could certainly prove beneficial to the Seminoles who haven’t played a match in over a week. With the extra time spent focusing on themselves and their upcoming opponents, the team will come in prepared and ready to play.
“We had a couple of days off last weekend to make sure everyone was staying fresh and rested, and since coming back from a breather they have kept their heads down and have been working really hard,” said Hyde. “The players know that our best tennis is still ahead of us, and we will continue to go through the process of getting better each week. That is the goal…focus on the process. We will continue to take things one chunk at a time, one match and one weekend at a time.”
First up for the Seminoles will be the Hokies of Virginia Tech. Florida State leads the series record between the two, 10-1. Florida State defeated the Hokies 6-1 at home last season to pick up its 8th win of the season. The Seminoles have not lost to the Hokies since Hyde took over the program in 2005. Win or lose, the Seminoles will not have much time to reflect on their match against the Hokies.
“Back to back matches are rare because you want to have a break in between, but it’s good because you’re on top of it and you can just go into the next day feeling good from the day before,” said sophomore Amy Sargeant. “I think playing for Virginia Tech first will be a good preparation for our match against Virginia.”
One benefit to playing back to back matches will be that the Seminoles will get their first taste of what the grind of playing in the ACC Tournament will be like.
“It benefits us to play back to back matches,” said Hyde. “Not to mention, in order to get through the ACC championship tournament, teams need to win four matches in a row. This will be a good gauge for us to see how we respond to playing two very high level matches in consecutive days. This weekend will be a good preparation for us as we slowly move in to the championship part of the season.”
“You leave everything out there one day and then you usually have a day off the next day,” said senior captain Federica Suess. “It’s a different mentality and I think it’s good to have one of few of those matches before playing the ACC’s.”
The Seminoles will certainly have a tough challenge ahead of them with the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavs bring in three nationally-ranked players in No. 71 Lindsey Hardenbergh, No. 80 Erin Vierra, and No. 96 Hana Tomlijanovic. Hardenbergh and Vierra also make up the No. 72 nationally-ranked doubles team while Tomlijanovic and Emily Fraser form the Cavs top ranked coming in at No. 20 in the nation. Virginia’s third doubles team will not be any less of a challenge with the nation’s No. 47 doubles tandem in Maria Fuccillo and Rashmi Teltumbde.
Although the competition seems stiff, the Seminoles will rely on the senior leadership of Suess and No. 46 Katie Rybakova as well as the 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year Francesca Segarelli to help lead the Seminoles to another successful weekend.
“We’re excited to go on the road, and getting into ACC play is always competitive,” said Suess. “Virginia is a really good team; we’ve always been in really tough matches with them, but we will be focused and ready.”
Florida State holds the all-time series against Virginia 18-5, with the last victory for the Garnet and Gold coming at home last season in a 5-2 victory. Although the Seminoles have had a lot of prior success against both Virginia and Virginia Tech, Hyde knows better than to underestimate her opponent.
“Every year we have battles with both of these teams and we don’t expect this weekend to be any different,” Hyde said. “Everyone in our league is capable of beating another team on any given day and we have to be ready for both teams. We’re just excited to get on the road and I’m ready to see how these girls respond to the challenges this weekend.”