Feb. 25, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Chris Westerhof’s reign as Florida State’s top men’s tennis doubles player of all-time has started.
There were no fist pumps, no major celebrations. Just a small grin from Westerhof and a customary handshake from his opponents and Westerhof had his 80th career doubles victory, a new Florida State record, and a seal on his domination of the doubles game. A couple hours later his teammates put a stamp on the momentous afternoon by defeating No. 51 Alabama, 5-2, and No. 34 Florida State (5-5) improved to 5-5 on the season.
“It is truly an honor to break the FSU all-time doubles record,” said Westerhof, a 21-year-old native of Durban, South Africa. “I am very privileged to be listed among Florida State’s all-time great players.”
Westerhof and his partner Ytai Abougzir won in thrilling fashion at center court and clinched the doubles point for the Seminoles. After sophomore Sam Chang and junior Jonathas Sucupira fell to the Tides’ Javiar Bes and Billy Mertz 8-4 at No. 3, Seminole freshmen Andrew Bailey and Maciek Sykut evened the score with an 8-6 victory over Andrew Felsenthal and Sammy Struyf at No. 2 doubles.
All eyes focused on center court but after `Bama took the 5-3 advantage, things didn’t seem to favor Abougzir and Westerhof. However, in typical fashion, Abougzir and Westerhof stormed back on the court after the eighth game and quickly changed the momentum of the match. There were plenty of long and exciting rallies, several which involved six or seven consecutive volleys among all four players. Eventually the FSU pair broke, came-from-behind, and earned an 8-6 victory over the Crimson Tide’s Joseph Jung and Mathieu Thibaudeau.
“I hadn’t practiced all week because I was overcoming an illness,” said Westerhof. “So we started a little bit slow but managed to pick it up and broke back. Once we got that first break we got some momentum and played a lot better.”
While Westerhof’s major achievement was the storyline of the afternoon, the Seminoles’ overall competitive spirit in singles action was just as important.
“I thought this was overall the best match we’ve played all year,” said FSU head coach Dwayne Hultquist.
At the second slot Chang overpowered Bes 6-3, 6-1 and Westerhof recorded a decisive 6-3, 6-1 victory against Thibaudeau as the Seminoles took a healthy 3-0 lead. The Crimson Tide shot back at FSU when Dan Buikema defeated Bailey 6-4, 6-4 at No. 6. However, Alabama’s chance of a comeback win was short lived as Cloer beat Felsenthal at No. 5 singles (6-4, 6-3) for the Florida State victory.
With two matches remaining, Abougzir came up short (6-2, 7-5) to Jung at No.1 and the Alabama player extended his winning-streak to 15. Sykut earned the fifth and final point of the day for the home team after downing Mertz 7-5, 6-2.
The Seminoles will take the week off before hosting No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday, March 4 at noon.
February 25, 2006
Doubles: FSU wins point (2-1)
1. *Ytai Abougzir/Chris Westerhof (FSU) def. DJung/Thibaudeau (UA), 8-5
2. Maciek Sykut/Andrew Bailey (FSU) def. Felsenthal/Struyf (UA), 8-6
3. Bes/Mertz (UA) def. Sam Chang/Jonathas Sucupira (UA), 8-4
Order: 3, 2, 1
1. Joseph Jung (UA) def. Ytai Abougzir (FSU) 6-2, 7-5
2. Sam Chang (FSU) def. Javier Bes (UA) 6-3, 6-1
3. Chris Westerhof def. Matt Thibaudeau (UA) 6-3, 6-1
4. Maciek Sykut (FSU) def. Billy Mertz (UA) 7-5, 6-2
5. Chris Cloer (FSU) def. Felsenthal (UA) 6-4, 6-3
6. Dan Buikema (UA) def. Andrew Bailey (FSU) 6-4, 6-4
Order: 2, 3, 6, 5, 1, 4
r After being down 5-3, No. 1 doubles took the 6-5 lead.
r Westerhof becomes the school’s all-time doubles leader.