May 21, 2014
Florida State’s Cristian Gonzalez Mendez is a men’s tennis player from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Throughout the summer as he transitions from a junior to a senior, Cristian will provide fans with an in depth look into the world of tennis both at Florida State and internationally in Spain.
Teams Season Recap
This year I had very high expectations for the team. In my opinion, this year’s team was the most complete team we have had since I first got here. Because our schedule was filled with high-ranked teams, I think we had a lot of opportunities to prove that we are one of the best teams in the nation. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of those opportunities, but I’m still hopeful that we will be more effective against some of these top teams next year, as we get back important players like Benjamin Lock and Jose Gracia who missed this spring due to injuries.
Compared to past seasons, this year we did not have any quality wins. Last year, we had beaten No. 15 Texas at home and No. 7 Oklahoma on the road. This season, our best ranked win was No. 18 Wake Forest. We finished No. 8 in the ACC standings with a 5-6 record, which forced us to play the number one seed, Virginia, in the second round at the ACC Championship. I have to admit that the ACC is one of the most competitive conferences across the country as four of its teams are ranked in the top 16.
Nevertheless, we had a chance to redeem ourselves at the NCAA Tournament. We faced South Florida in the first round, a team that we had already beaten 4-3 in the middle of the season, even though we lost the doubles point. If had won that match, we were most likely going to face Florida State’s rival, the University of Florida, in the second round. During the season we failed to beat the Gators but we were close to surprising them at their home courts.
If you have read my previous blogs, you would know that we won the doubles point against South Florida, but we ended up losing the match 4-2. This was very disappointing because I know we are a better team than what our performances this year showed. Ultimately, we need to learn from the mistakes we made, so they will not happen again in upcoming seasons. We also have to remember the positive things that we did, such as playing close matches against top-ranked teams in the nation, including Florida and North Carolina.
My Season Recap
My performance this season has been the most gratifying I’ve had since I started my college career. I posted a 27-8 overall record, my best record in one season at Florida State. I am proud of how I have played for most of the season, even though there are a few matches that I would love to play again and fix the mistakes I made. I think the fall season played a big role on how I played during the spring. I started the fall season winning the Bedford Cup, which helped me build up confidence to face the rest of the year. I finished the fall season reaching the semifinals of the USTA Clay Court Invitational at Disney, where I beat three nationally ranked players, including No. 50 Daniel Leitner of South Alabama.
I continued to play well throughout the spring season. My first loss came against No. 37 Andrew Harris of Oklahoma. After this, I stepped up my game and was able to beat No. 60 George Goldhoff of University of Texas, No. 98 Robbie Mudge of North Carolina State and No. 48 Adam Lee of Wake Forest. These victories allowed me to reach my highest ranking in college at No. 65 in the nation. Towards the end of the season I started spiraling downwards and not playing as well as I had been playing throughout the rest of the year. I lost four consecutive matches against nationally ranked players. If I only had won a couple of those matches, I could have had a shot to make the NCAA Singles Tournament. One of the highlights of my season came against Ryan Bandy of Notre Dame. After losing the first set 7-6, and trailing 5-0 in the second set, where I saved four match points, I was able to fight back and end up winning the match 11-9 in the third set match tiebreaker. I am proud of this match because of how I was able overcome adversity and stay focused when it seemed the match was almost over.
Now, it is important for me to put extra work this summer to improve my game and have a better season my senior year. Because I know that everyone else on the team is working hard too, it motivates me to go the extra mile. I believe this team has the potential to do great things next year and I want to be part of it.
Shout out to my fellow Seminoles who are still in postseason chasing another National Championship this year,