TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 9 Florida State men’s tennis team (21-1, 5-0 ACC) earned their second ever win over a No. 1 ranked team in three years with a huge 4-3 win over Wake Forest (14-1, 3-1 ACC). This win makes it the fourth time the Seminoles have earned 21 wins in a season under head coach Dwayne Hultquist.
“The biggest thing is that we never gave up,” said Hultquist. “We were very competitive the whole way through the match. We could have won the doubles but lost in a tiebreaker. Aziz could have won the first set but didn’t. We could have won the first set at Chase’s court but didn’t. It was a match where we never gave up. For Guy and Chase to be down a set and a break and come back and win showed a lot of heart and that we will never give up.”
The Seminoles lost the doubles point for just the sixth time this season in a close one. The Demon Deacons took court three 6-3 but the Garnet and Gold quickly bounced back to take court two with a 7-5 win by redshirt senior Jose Gracia and sophomore Alex Knaff. Wake Forest clinched the double point in a tiebreaker on court one.
NOLES TAKE DOWN No. 1 WAKE FOREST!!!!! pic.twitter.com/oQD37OAdyj
— FSU Men’s Tennis (@FSU_MTennis) March 25, 2018
In singles, Wake Forest took a 2-0 lead with a 7-5, 6-1 win on court two. The Seminoles quickly bounced back with a 7-5, 6-3 win on court five by Knaff. Wake Forest extended their lead to 3-1 with a win on court four. Gracia took the first set 6-3 but could not hold on as the Demon Deacons took the next two sets 6-1, 6-2.
Down 3-1, Florida State flipped a switch and went on a roll. Courts one and six had both lost the first set and had taken the second, while on court three redshirt senior Lucas Poullain pulled off a 6-4 first set win but could not pull it off in the second set.
Down 5-3 in the second set on court one, senior Guy Iradukunda made the comeback of the season to force a tiebreak against No. 29 Bona Gojo. Iradukunda went on to win the tiebreaker 7-3 and took that momentum into the third set to take the match and narrow the Wake Forest lead to one.
“I was down but I knew the team was fighting,” said Iradukunda. “I could hear my teammates screaming that they won sets and that helped me because I knew I needed to keep fighting for them because I knew we still had a chance to win. The crowd behind me helped me come back and play well. The guy was also getting tired which helped me a lot.”
Down 3-2, both Poullain and freshman Chase Wood were battling on their respective courts. After losing the second set Poullain turned his match around and got off to a quick 4-1 lead in the third, before finishing off No. 30 Skander Mansouri 6-3 in the third to tie the match at three.
“I knew Chase was close to winning,” said Poullain. “I was just focusing on my court. It was tough at the end because I was tired and cramping. I saw him cramping too so I just told myself to stay calm and try to make him miss and fight to the end. It worked pretty well.”
Wood showed veteran poise as a freshman with the match against the No. 1 team in the country on the line. He was up 3-1 in the first set before falling in a tiebreak but he did not let that phase him. In set two, he went down 2-0 early but fought his way back to tie it at three before taking a 4-3 lead. Wood never lost the lead after that as he won the second set 6-4, forcing a deciding third set. Wood went up 4-1 over Wake’s Julian Zlobinzky. Zlobinzky brought it within one, 5-4 before he went down cramping. Wood won the first point and was awarded another as his opponent had to take injury time. With the match on the line, Wood clinched his team-leading fifth match of the season and helped take down No. 1 Wake Forest.
“It was an unbelievable team win,” said Wood. “We were down 3-1 and we all stuck together and just fought. It was a great match and it is always great to take out the No. 1 team in the country. We kept fighting and it paid off.”
“My match was a battle. The first set was really tight and I thought I had a chance with a set point in the first. In the second I was down a break but just kept fight and was able to get the second set. Towards the end, I got a little fortunate that he started cramping.”
Florida State will be back on the court next Friday, March 30th to take on Louisville at Home.
#20 Florida State University 4, #1 Wake Forest 3
Wake Forest 14-1, 3-1 ACC; National ranking #1
Florida State University 21-1, 5-0 ACC; National ranking #20
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,5,4,1,3,6)
Match on ACC Network Extra
Records to Watch:
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