TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 37 Florida State men’s tennis team (9-2) came back to defeat the No. 40 Pepperdine Waves (3-4) 4-1 on Friday night under the lights at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.
After dropping the doubles point to go down 1-0, Florida State stormed back in singles play to win 4-1 over the Waves as junior Guy Iradukunda won a three set match on court two 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 over Pepperdine’s Pedro Iamachkine to clinch the match in favor of the Seminoles.
“I’m really happy that I clinched, it was my first clincher,” Iradukunda said. “It was my first time playing college tennis on (television) and at night, actually. It was a really great feeling and I am glad that I could clinch the win for the team.”
Live streamed on ACC Network Extra, the match was an entertaining one from the start.
The Seminoles got out to slow start in doubles play, but sophomore Aziz Dougaz/Iradukunda took court one 6-4. In two very closely contested matches on courts two and three, Florida State was unable to recover as juniors Terrance Whitehurst/Terrell Whitehurst fell 7-5 and redshirt juniors Jose Gracia/Lucas Poullain fell in a tiebreak 7-6(2) to drop the doubles point for the first time all season.
“It was the first time (all season) that we lost the doubles point, and it put the pressure on all of us that we knew we had to come and win four singles,” Iradukunda said. “We were ready and we did it- we won four singles.”
In singles play, the Seminoles showed their grit and were able to rebound after falling into unfamiliar territory.
Much like doubles play, all six courts were deadlocked from the start. Dougaz was able to take court one 6-3, 6-4 to tie the match at 1-1.
After taking the first set 6-3, Iradukunda found himself in a close match after dropping the second set 3-6.
On court three, Poullain fell behind early but was able to rally to win the first set 7-5.
Freshman Rana-Roop Singh Bhullar continued to show well, giving the Noles a 2-1 lead after a 6-4, 6-3 victory on court six.
After each falling behind a set, Gracia and Terrell Whitehurst each took the second set to a tiebreak.
The pressure mounted as Poullain took court three 7-5, 6-3 to put the Noles up 3-1, but Gracia and Whitehurst each won their respective tiebreaks to force a third set. By that time, Iradukunda had all but clinched his victory on court two to give Florida State the 4-1 win.
“One thing I liked was how each guy rebounded,” Florida State head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “Jose was down a break, Terrell was down match points, if they lose then all of the pressure is on Guy. But by them getting second sets and fighting off match points, Guy kind of ran away with the third set. For us not to lose one singles was really good.”
The match was the first win over a ranked opponent on the season for the Noles, the only other match a 4-3 loss by one set to No. 20 Mississippi State at ITA Kickoff Weekend. The Seminoles are now 4-4 all-time against the Waves after avenging a 5-2 loss four years ago to the day back in 2013.
“I think we’re showing that we’re a better team than we were earlier in the year,” Hultquist said. “We’ve got a situation where we’ve got a lot of good players. We can kind of rotate them a little bit- it’s like a team with a deep pitching staff or something like that. There’s a lot of options.”
The match was the first of five home matches that will be carried on ACC Network Extra- the April 7 match v. Notre Dame, the April 21 match v. No. 1 Virginia, and the April 23 match v. Virginia Tech will also be broadcast. The Seminoles have seven total matches that will be carried, as the March 10 match v. No. 10 Florida at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. and the March 24 match at Louisville will also be broadcast, making the Seminoles one of the most visible college tennis programs in the nation.
Florida State will now face the Texas A&M Aggies (4-3) at 1:00 p.m on Sunday. The match will be the second ACC Network Extra home match of the season.
The Noles are 2-8 all-time against the Aggies and are looking to avenge a close 4-3 loss at No. 3 Texas A&M last season.
“I think it’s a good opportunity, I think Texas A&M is a really good team,” Hultquist said. “We need a great crowd out here again. I think that would be really important for us to get another good group out here. It was loud today, it was home court advantage and we want that here. The basketball team hasn’t lost at home this year- we need that home court advantage.”
Fans can follow along and watch the Texas A&M on ACC Network Extra from anywhere in the world using the links here:
Texas A&M Links
Live stats: https://stats.statbroadcast.com/statmonitr/?id=168718
ACC Network Extra: http://www.espn.com/watchespn/index/_/id/2990007/texas-am-vs-florida-state-m-tennis
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