May 15, 2004
GAINESVILLE, Fla. –
With a team consisting mostly of underclassmen, the young Florida State University men’s tennis team is still learning is how to close out matches. The good news is that the lessons learned in 2004 will be carried over into next season as the Seminoles return six of eight players. Unfortunately next year is all it has as Florida State dropped a 4-3 decision to #20 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona improves to 15-8 and moves on to face host Florida in the second round. The Seminoles end the year with a seven-match winning steak and conclude the season at 10-13.
If the afternoon was a sprint rather than a marathon, it may have been the Seminoles that were moving on to face the Gators. Several times during both singles and doubles Florida State was up at least one break, only to have to barely hold on to win or see the Wildcats surpass the Seminoles.
With the match all square at three points apiece, all eyes turned to court number one. Arizona’s Roger Matalonga took the first set off Mat Cloer (Brevard, N.C) 7-5 and rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second to tie the set at five before 27th-ranked Cloer went on to win 7-5.
After a break to start the third, Matalonga was up a 3-2 before Cloer answered with a break of his own. The Wildcat responded with another break to go up 4-3, but during the change over he took too much time tending to cramping muscles and Cloer was awarded a game to tie the match at four. Unfortunately Cloer couldn’t take advantage of the fatigued Matalonga as he committed three unforced errors to give No. 77 Matalonga the fifth game before the Wildcat won the final game, set and match for Arizona.
“It was pretty hard to lose the match like that, especially for Mat,” FSU net boss Dwayne Hultquist said. “You fight the whole match and you get it to the point where you think that you’ve won because the other guy is hurt and then you let up. Mat’s level of play dropped off and allowed (Matalonga) to win.”
Early in doubles matches it appeared as if Florida State would make quick work of the first point, but Arizona battled back to win the first marker. Even though the Wildcats were down either 5-0 or 4-1 in all three matches, they rallied to win at numbers one at two.
Jumping out to a quick 5-0 start, the Seminole duo of Joe Bassett (Monticello, Fla.) and Chip Webb (Chattanooga, Tenn.) held on to beat Tom Lloyd and Paul Warkentin 8-5. The same couldn’t be said for the other FSU doubles teams as No. 39 Jeff Groslimond (Atlanta, Ga.) and Chris Westerhof (Durban, South Africa) went up 4-1 only to let the #24 Wildcat duo of Roger Matalonga and Colin O’Grady win the last seven games for a 8-4 victory. At number two Cloer and Jarrod Owen (Vero Beach) could only manage to win one game as Whi Kim and Daniel Andrus took seven of the last eight en route to an 8-5 triumph.
“Mat’s a great player,” Hultquist added. “He’s the two-time ACC Player of the Year so you don’t expect that from a guy of his caliber. Mat’s won a lot of big matches for us before, but today just didn’t work out for him. We kind of had the doubles point won too, we were up and all three, but Arizona came back and showed that they have the capability to win a lot of close matches.”
Arizona found itself up 2-0 in the match when Lloyd won in straight sets over Webb 7-5, 6-4 at No. 5. Lloyd picked up two breaks in three of the last four games of the first set then rallied from down 4-2 to win the second. The first Seminole point came at number four where Groslimond was down 4-3 in both sets, only to win three-straight games each time as he prevailed 6-4, 6-4 over Andrus.
Another victim of a Wildcat rally was Owen at number six singles. After dropping the first set 6-2 to Warkentin, the senior was up 5-2 in the second stanza. Warkentin won four of the last five games to force a tiebreaker where he prevailed 7-3 to win the match and put Arizona one point away from eliminating FSU.
Just like it did against sixth-ranked Duke, Florida State started to mount a comeback with its back to the wall. After cruising to a 6-1 victory in the first set, Westerhof lost the second set of his No. 3 match 6-3 to O’Grady The sophomore held serve to tie the third stanza at five before breaking O’Grady then holding to win 7-5.
One of the big reasons for the Seminoles down turn over the last month of the season was the absence of Jonathas Sucupira (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in the singles line-up. The 105th-ranked player in the nation show how valuable he is by beating Whi Kim 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 at number two to tie the match at three points apiece.
“If you look at this year we’ve played everyone close,” Hultquist added. “We played Illinois and Florida down to the wire even though we’re a little thin this year in singles. That’s certainly going to change next year with the guys that we’re bringing in.”
Florida State brings back almost its entire roster from a team that reached as high as 25 in the national rankings after knocking off number six Duke and mad its second-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Even though the team is out of the national summit, there will be at least one FSU representative in Tulsa, Okla., as Cloer will be take part in the NCAA singles draw.
No. 20 Arizona 4, No. 47 Florida State 3
No. 1: #77 Roger Matalonga (UA) d. #27 Mat Cloer (FSU) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
No. 2: #106 Jonathas Sucupira (FSU) d. Whi Kim (UA) 7-5, 4-6, 6-1
No. 3: Chris Westerhof (FSU) d. Colin O'Grady (UA) 6-1, 3-6, 7-5
No. 4: Jeff Groslimond (FSU) d. Daniel Andrus (UA) 6-4, 6-4
No. 5: Tom Lloyd (UA) d. Chip Webb (FSU) 7-5, 6-4
No. 6: Jarrod Owen (FSU) Paul Warkentin (UA)
Order of Finish: 5, 4, 6, 3, 2, 1
No. 1: #24 Matalonga / O'Grady (UA) d. #39 Groslimond / Westerhof (FSU) 8-4
No. 2: Andrus / Kim (UA) d. Cloer / Owen (FSU) 8-5
No. 3: Joe Bassett / Webb (FSU) d. Lloyd / Warkentin (UA) 8-5
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2