Tallahassee, Fla. – A week after beating No. 40 Virginia Tech with four singles wins, the 20th-ranked FSU men’s tennis team (13-5, 5-2 ACC) beat No. 32 Georgia Tech (11-5, 4-2 ACC) 5-2 in similar fashion with five singles wins Thursday night. Braving windy conditions all night and eventually being forced inside to complete the win, FSU used wins on Courts 1-5 for its 10th-consecutive home win to open the season.
Like they did against the Hokies, FSU dropped the doubles point. It was the third consecutive match the Seminoles lost the doubles point after dropping just two in the first 15 matches of the season. Sophomores Jose Gracia and Terrance Whitehurst prevented a Tech sweep in doubles with a 6-3 win on Court 3.
Needing four matches in singles to lock up the win, Florida State turned to senior Benjamin Lock for its first point. Ranked 12th in the country in the ITA poll released Tuesday, Lock faced No. 11 Christopher Eubanks on Court 1. Last season, an unranked Lock beat No. 66 Eubanks in Atlanta, and again beat the Yellow Jacket this season with a quick 6-2, 6-2 win to even the match. The win was the highest of Lock’s dual match career, an honor he previously set last week with a win over No. 18 Joao Monteiro of Virginia Tech and tied two weeks ago against No. 20 Nicolas Alvarez of Duke.
Freshman Aziz Dougaz, playing on Court 4, rallied in the second set for a 6-2, 7-5 win and gave FSU a short-lived 2-1 lead. Tech tied the score with Nathan Rakitt’s 6-4, 6-3 win on Court 6 over Whitehurst.
As dark clouds began to fill the sky, a lightning warning that eventually turned to a thunderstorm forced the remaining three matches indoors. Gracia, on Court 5, went indoors with a 6-2, 6-6 (5-3) lead over Daniel Yun. After Yun evened the tiebreaker at 5-5, Gracia won the next two points for the match and a 3-2 FSU lead.
Senior Michael Rinaldi, on Court 3, went indoors with a 2-1 third set lead that ballooned to 4-1 before finally clinching the Seminole victory with a 7-6 (8), 6-3 win.
The final match, between No. 60 Marco Nunez and Carlos Benito, was decided in a third match tiebreaker. After both players held serve the entire third set, Nunez prevailed with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6) win to provide the final margin.
Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist:
“One of the key points to the match was when we won five first sets and the fact that Michael came back and won being down, that was key to the match. To get five first sets gained momentum and we finished all five off.”
“Momentum kind of got stopped with us coming indoors. But we came back and won the three matches here and the guys did a good job of staying together.”
“We had to make the point to them that we had to get after it. We were two points away from Jose and we’re fortunate that Jose won that tiebreaker, because momentum could have shifted. Mike did a real good job holding serve, breaking serve and getting off to a 4-1 lead and hitting a backhand pass for the winner.”
Senior Michael Rinaldi:
“I’m just glad I could win the match for us. The guys all fought hard and it was a good match. It was a tough day. Anytime you move from outside to inside, it’s hard to adjust sometimes, but we did a good job and took all three matches that we had.”
Senior Benjamin Lock:
“I knew I had to play my best tennis. I played him [Eubanks] last year. He’s really aggressive and likes to go after his shots.”
“We were just so focused on winning today and the team has been on a roll at the moment. We wanted to keep the undefeated record at home, which is pretty cool. Our guys played well today with a lot of energy, so I’m happy for them.”
– At 10-0, Florida State has secured its 37th-consecutive winning season at home, including all 23 since the Scott Speicher Tennis Center has been open.
– The 10 consecutive wins to open the season are one behind the school record of 11, set in 2007. The team was a perfect 9-0 at home in 2005.
– Lock’s win over Eubanks was his 20th of the season, the third time in his career that he has won 20 singles matches in a year. His career high of 21 came in 2013.
– Lock’s win was his 13th of the season over a ranked opponent (13-10), equaling the number of ranked wins from his first four seasons (13-20).
– Lock’s 85 career singles wins tie him with Michael Ingham (1996-00) for eighth on the FSU career singles wins list. His 174 combined singles and doubles wins rank fourth, one behind Maciek Sykut (2005-09).
– The ITA rankings for Lock (12) and Nunez (60) are the highest of their careers. Likewise, the doubles pair of Dougaz and Rinaldi (59) are ranked for the first time.
– Dougaz’s straight-set win was his 11th of the dual match season, keeping him one ahead of Lock, Nunez, and Whitehurst for the team lead.
– FSU’s sixth consecutive win over the Yellow Jackets and 35th overall (35-29), its most wins against any opponent.
Florida State will face No. 13 Wake Forest Sunday at 12:00 p.m. at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center. If weather forces the match indoors, it will take place at the Indoor Tennis Facility and begin at 1:30 p.m.
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).
#20 Florida State def. #32 Georgia Tech, 5-2
March 24, 2016 – Scott Speicher Tennis Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
#12 Benjamin Lock (FSU) def. #11 Christopher Eubanks (GT), 6-2, 6-2
#60 Marco Nunez (FSU) def. Carlos Benito (GT), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8)
Michael Rinaldi (FSU) def. Cole Fiegel (GT), 7-6 (8), 6-3
Aziz Dougaz (FSU) def. Andrew Li (GT), 6-2, 7-5
Jose Gracia (FSU) def. Daniel Yun (GT), 6-2, 7-6 (5)
Nathan Rakitt (GT) def. Terrance Whitehurst (FSU), 6-4, 6-3
#54 Casey Kay/Michael Kay (GT) def. #11 Lock/Nunez (FSU), 6-1
Benito/Eubanks (GT) def. #59 Dougaz/Rinaldi (FSU), 6-4
Gracia/Whitehurst (FSU) def. Li/Rakitt (GT), 6-3
Order of Finish – Singles: 1,4,6,5,3,2; Doubles 1,3,2