GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For the second time in team history, the Florida State women’s tennis team (19-9) is headed to the Sweet 16 after a 4-3 win over the Florida Gators (19-9) at the Ring Tennis Center on Saturday. It was also the second time this season that the Seminoles defeated the Gators after beating them 4-1, in Lake Nona earlier this season.
“We knew that today was going to come down to the absolute end,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “This time of year, we expect nothing less. I honestly can’t put into words how proud I am of this group. They took punch after punch and they withstood it. They withstood a really hostile crowd and some very good tennis from the other side of the net and they just kept bringing it. Today was a 100 percent complete team effort that required everyone to get it done. That is the beauty of college tennis and the beauty of coaching at Florida State and this group of women. They are now the second team in the history of Florida State women’s tennis to make it to the Sweet 16. This was a goal that we had set early in the season and we knew we could do, we just need the chance to prove it. Beating a storied program like Florida two times in one season speaks volumes about this group.”
FSU began by clinching the doubles point with wins from courts two and three. Senior Gabby Castaneda and freshman Petra Hule were the first off the court with a 6-2 win. The Gators tied it up with a 6-3 win on court one by 17th ranked Anna Danilina and Victoria Emma over sophomore Carla Touly and junior Ariana Rahmanparast.
Junior Julia Mikulski and sophomore Andrea Garcia clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 win over UF’s McCartney Kessler and Kosie Kuhlman.
In singles, Florida jumped out to a 3-1 lead after winning on courts one, two and five.
18th ranked Anna Danilina tied the match up for Florida with a straight-set win over 19th ranked Touly. The Gators then took their first lead with a straight-set win on court five and expanded their lead to 3-1 with a 6-4, 6-4 win on court two.
With their backs against the wall, Florida State made a comeback for the ages.
Castaneda struck first for the Noles in singles with a 6-4, 6-4 win on court four. She jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the first set before finishing off Victoria Emma. She claimed a 3-0 lead in the second before winning it and bringing the score to 3-2.
The Noles tied it up on court three as sophomore Nandini Das won in the third set after her opponent had to medically default.
With the match on the line, Garcia did what she does best, clinching matches. After winning the first set 6-3, she was forced into a third set after losing the second set tiebreak. In the third set, she took a 2-0 lead and expanded that to 3-1 before Florida’s Katie Kubicz tied it up at three. Garcia finished the match as she won three of the last four games to clinch her match 6-4 and the dual 4-3.
“The belief runs deep, and we are going to enjoy this milestone for the next day for sure,” said coach Hyde. “We can’t wait to pack our bags and head to North Carolina for the Sweet 16 where we know we are capable of beating anyone. Again, I cannot put words to how proud of this group I am. They just fought and fought.”
The Seminoles will begin play in the final site of the NCAA Team Championships Thursday, May 17th as they take on Tulsa in the Sweet 16.
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#21 Florida State 4, #8 Florida 3
Florida State 19-12; National ranking #21
Florida 19-9; National ranking #8
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,5,2,4,3,6)