By Zach Mendelson, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Riding on a huge wave of momentum from their big win over No. 4 North Carolina on Friday, the streaking No. 27 Florida State (12-7, 7-4) women’s tennis came away with once again the biggest win of the season by defeating the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (20-3, 10-1) on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center. The victory over the Blue Devils now goes into the record books as the highest ranked opponent the Seminoles have defeated in program history. On what was already a very special day, senior Katie Rybakova and head coach Jennifer Hyde garnered the 100th wins of their careers as well.
“It’s not often that you go against the number three and four nationally ranked teams in the country and beat them both in the same weekend,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “That just doesn’t happen every day. This team played like absolute warriors all weekend long and all the credit in the world goes to those young ladies. The fight we have within this team, you cannot teach it. It’s either there or its not and I could not be more proud of the team for the fight they showed this entire weekend. They left their hearts out there.”
Known as a perennial powerhouse in tennis, Duke came into the match having not lost a single game in conference all season and that was well represented by having all six players ranked among the top 80 by the ITA in singles. The day began looking like it would be the Blue Devils day as Florida State started off the match with a slow start falling in doubles to give Duke a 1-0 lead. The Blue Devils would then to push their lead to 2-0 as No. 74 Rachael Kahan won 6-0, 6-2 over senior Federica Suess. With their backs against the wall, the tide began to turn for Florida State as the feisty Seminoles won the next four matches and earn the statement victory.
“We played with such fight and I am so proud of everyone,” said Rybakova. “We stayed in there, fought for every point, and it goes to show hard work does pay off. We worked so hard in the fall, we worked hard all spring and we were just wondering when this type of success was going to come and finally here is the result of all our hard work. Now we are just going to keep our heads down as we have all season, work hard, and hopefully be successful at the ACC’s next week.”
The win marks the Seminoles fifth straight ACC victory and their second straight victory over a top ten opponent.
“We are definitely on a wave of momentum right now,” Hyde said. “Especially since the win against North Carolina on Friday, everyone clearly sees the process of our season coming to fruition, and everyone recognizes the improvements which are visible in every spot in our lineup. The belief is stronger now than it has ever been and with two momentous wins like this under their belts, our minds are right where they need to be as we head in to the ACC Championships this coming weekend.”
“I didn’t realize that the 100 wins mark was on the radar, but I am just so very proud it could happen on this day, with these seniors, here at home at FSU, and on this stage,” said Hyde. “It’s a pretty big way for us to get it done by beating the number three team in the country. This day will always stand out as special and for many reasons beyond the hundredth win. I hope I am fortunate enough to get another hundred here in my career. It’s such a big moment for all of us.”
The momentum began to turn as Rybakova became the first Seminole to win on the afternoon as she defeated No. 38 Nadine Fahoum 6-2, 6-4 on court one. With the 100th win of her career Rybakova becomes just the fourth Seminole in program history to eclipse the hundred win milestone. Rybakova now joins current teammate Federica Suess along with former teammates Lauren Macfarlane and Jessica Sucupria in the record books as the only Seminoles to reach such a feat.
“Records are great, but I am just glad that I could contribute to the team winning today” said Rybakova. “To me it’s an accomplishment to join Federica and be amongst Lauren and Jessica, so in that sense it’s a great honor.”
Freshman Ruth Seaborne was the next Seminole to win as she defeated No. 58 Elizabeth Plotkin 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 on court two. Seaborne’s victory tied the match at two all and the momentum clearly heading in the Seminoles direction. The momentum the became an avalanche as sophomore Francesca Segarelli gave the Seminoles the lead by defeating No. 80 Ellah Nze 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 on court two.
“I knew that I needed to give confidence to the team that we can actually do this and then it just clicked,” said Segarelli. “I kind of checked out during the second set and knew I somehow had to find a way to win. The third set came I knew I had to pull it out for us to win. It’s such a great feeling. I really cannot even describe it. It’s so unbelievable and I still cannot believe it. We just beat the number three and four teams in the nation.”
“You looked up and down the courts and realized we are here and we are not leaving,” added Segarelli. “We are going to fight and there was always confidence that we could pull it off. I think the fact that we beat UNC made a big difference. We have a lot of respect for both teams, but we knew we could do this.”
With the match coming down to battles on courts three and six, Florida State picked up the fourth and final point needed for the win as sophomore Amy Sargeant defeated No. 79 Mary Clayton 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (7-4), 6-3 to give the Seminoles the enormous victory. Being able to finish off the win was extra sweet for Sargeant who recently came back from injury.
“After being out for nine months, to come back and help us win this match is just a dream come true,” said Sargeant. “It’s a special day for everyone. Words cannot describe how I am feeling, it’s just unreal. What Jen and Oliver teach us is to fight and have heart and that is one thing this team has that no other team can even come close too. I am just so proud of the girls because it’s not just me that won, it was everybody. We proved to everyone today we are a top ten team.”
With the match already decided, Noemie Scharle’s match against No. 18 Reke Zsilinska was called early after Sargeant sealed the Seminoles victory.
Having now played in perhaps the last home match of their careers, the win for Rybakova and Suess will provide them with a lasting memory to treasure once their time at Florida State is finally over.
“I wish there were words to describe the feeling, but I am kind of speechless right now,” said Ryabakova. “I am so proud of everybody. We played as a team, we played with one heart and it was time to go out there and show everyone how we can play. I believe whole heartedly in this team and feel we can go all the way. We can beat anyone in the country and this will be huge for our confidence heading into the ACC’s. I knew all along we could do it. We just had to step on the court and show it to everyone else.”
The Seminoles will not have much time to celebrate as they leave this coming Tuesday for Cary, North Carolina to play in the ACC Tournament.
1. #34 Katie Rybakova (FSU) def. #38 Nadine Fahoum (Duke) 6-2, 6-4
2. Francesca Segarelli (FSU) def. #80 Ellah Nze (Duke) 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
3. #63 Noemie Scharle (FSU) vs. #18 Reka Zsilinska (Duke) 5-7, 5-4 DNF
4. Ruth Seaborne (FSU) def. #58 Elizabeth Plotkin (Duke) 7-6 (7-1), 6-2
5. #73 Rachel Kahan (Duke) def. Federica Suess (FSU) 0-6, 2-6
6. Amy Sargeant (FSU) def. #79 Mary Clayton (Duke) 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (4-7), 6-3
Order to finish: – 5, 1, 4, 2, 6*, 3 DNF
1. #66 Kahan/Nze (Duke) def. Scharle/Suess (FSU) 8-5
2. #81 Fahoum/Mar (Duke) def. Segarelli/Seaborne (FSU) 5-4 DNF
3. Clayton/Gorny (Duke) def. Sargeant/Rybakova (FSU) 8-5
Order to finish: 3, 1*, 2 DNF