Athens, Ga. – The 2016 season ended in heartbreaking fashion Saturday as Florida State (18-9) lost to Baylor (16-13) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament hosted by Georgia. It was the Noles ninth match this season that finished 4-3, with FSU going 4-5 in those matches.
The Noles opened the match winning the doubles point with wins on Courts 2 and 3. Off the court first was the sophomore duo of Jose Gracia and Terrance Whitehurst after they blanked Julian Lenz and Tyler Stayer, 6-0. After filling in for an injured Terrell Whitehurst midseason, Gracia and Whitehurst finish the season with an eight-match win streak and 10-2 overall record, including an 8-1 mark in the ACC.
On Court 2, freshman Aziz Dougaz and senior Michael Rinaldi used a late break to take down the Bears’ Jimmy Bendeck and Felipe Rios, 6-4. The Seminole pair won their final four matches of the season.
On Court 1, 17th-ranked Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez were at match point, 6-6 (6-2), over No. 86 Tommy Podvinski and Max Tchoutakian when the match was abandoned.
Needing three singles wins to advance, Florida State took the opening set on three courts, including tiebreaker wins on Courts 3 and 4. Baylor tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-1, 6-4 win by No. 94 Tchoutakian over No. 76 Nunez on Court 2, but FSU regained the lead with an identical win on Court 6 by Whitehurst over Stayer.
With FSU leading 2-1, the match of the day on Court 1 between All-Americans No. 11 Lock and No. 12 Lenz went in Baylor’s favor with Lenz’s 6-2, 7-6 (4) win to even the score at 2-2. It was a rematch from the Oracle Masters in September, a straight-set win for Lock.
The teams split the next two points, with Baylor’s Bendeck beating Dougaz, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-2, while FSU’s Gracia beat Podvinski, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, on Court 5.
With a spot in the Round of 32 at stake, Rinaldi trailed 4-0 early in the third set before rebounding, but Rios was able to close out the Baylor victory with a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 win.
Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist:
“I was pleased with how well Jose came back. I thought he did a great job of fighting back. There were a lot of big points that could’ve gone either way. It was an incredibly tough draw. Baylor is a team that made National Team Indoors, they’re a team that was one of the top seeds last year. They have their top three guys back, so we knew it was going to be a battle up top even though we were maybe slightly favored down low. The key match was really number four. We won the first set there and didn’t quite finish it off. At four-all, we had some game points to go up 5-4, and it ended just one game away. I thought that was the defining moment of the match.”
– It was the third match of the season, and second consecutive, that FSU won the doubles point and singles points at five and six but lost the match.
– Florida State ends the season with an 18-9 record and went 9-3 in ACC regular season play, finishing tied for third in the conference standings.
The team schedule is complete. Seniors Benjamin Lock (singles and doubles) and Marco Nunez (doubles) will participate in the NCAA Individual Championships beginning May 25 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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).
#35 Baylor def. #22 Florida State, 4-3
May 14, 2016 – Dan Magill Tennis Complex, Athens, Ga.
#12 Julian Lenz (BU) def. #11 Benjamin Lock (FSU), 6-2, 7-6 (4)
#94 Max Tchoutakian (BU) def. #76 Marco Nunez (FSU), 6-1, 6-4
Felipe Rios (BU) def. Michael Rinaldi (FSU), 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3
Jimmy Bendeck (BU) def. Aziz Dougaz (FSU), 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-2
Jose Gracia (FSU) def. Tommy Podvinski (BU), 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
Terrance Whitehurst (FSU) def. Tyler Stayer (BU), 6-1, 6-4
#17 Lock/Nunez (FSU) vs. #86 Podvinski/Tchoutakian (BU), 6-6 (6-2), dnf.
Dougaz/Rinaldi (FSU) def. Bendeck/Rios (BU), 6-4
Gracia/Whitehurst (FSU) def. Lenz/Stayer (BU), 6-0
Order of Finish – Singles: 2,6,1,4,5,3; Doubles: 3,2
NCAA First Round – Athens Regionals