May 13, 2006
OXFORD, Miss - Florida State head coach Dwayne Hultquist recorded career win No. 100 as the Seminoles advanced to the second round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship by defeating Auburn, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The Seminoles will move on to face No. 14 Ole Miss Sunday at 2pm (EDT), with the winner advancing to the "Sweet Sixteen" in Palo Alto, Calif.
FSU improved to 18-11 on the season, marking the second-best record for the program in the last 11 years. The Tigers concluded their season with a 14-11 record.
"I thought we were a little rusty today and we didn't play a great match," Hultquist said. "We'll put that match behind us...and prepare for a very good Ole Miss squad. They have been a good squad the last several years and they will present a very tough challenge for us. I compare them to a Duke or another top ACC school...they are definitely one of the better teams in the country."
FSU got on the boards first against Auburn, but it wasn't easy. The Seminoles shaky start in the NCAA Tournament may have been due to the fact that players have not competed competitively for nearly three weeks.
Auburn won the first doubles match at No. 2 as the Alex Schweizer and Nick Lane tandem upended sophomore Sam Chang and junior Jonathas Sucupira, 8-3. The Seminoles answered back as the seventh-ranked duo of Ytai Abougzir and Chris Westerhof rolled to their eighth straight victory with an 8-5 win over Robbert Lathouwers and Lukas Marsoun. Appearing in their first ever NCAA Tournament, FSU freshmen Andrew Bailey and Maciek Sykut hardly played like rookies. The duo fell behind 7-4 before storming back for the thrilling 9-7 win at No. 3 doubles as FSU took the lead, 1-0.
"One of the keys to the match was No. 3 doubles for sure," said Hultquist. "The guys were down 7-4, two breaks, and came back and won 9-7. That put us in pretty good position. The doubles point ended up playing a big part in the match."
In singles action, Westerhof improved his singles record to an impressive 20-12 on the season and joined the elite "20-match win club" for the second time in his career with a dominating performance in the fifth slot. The senior native of Durban, South Africa, beat Auburn's Lukas Marsoun 6-2, 6-1, as the Seminoles went ahead 2-0.
The Tigers pulled the score within one as No. 105 Schweizer upset No. 34 Abougzir 6-4, 7-5. However, the Seminoles' Sykut answered back with a powerful 6-4, 6-1 victory at court five against Auburn's Milan Krnjetin.
Sykut could quite possibly be the hottest player in the country right now as he is an outstanding 9-1 in the Seminoles' last 12 matches. Today marked his fourth straight win.
After No. 110 Sucupira dropped a three-set heartbreaker to No. 109 Lathouwers (6-7, 6-3, 6-4), the Seminoles begged for victories on either courts three or six. FSU found its relief at No. 6, as freshman Chris Cloer pulled out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 marathon to Pawal Dilaj. FSU's Chang was just one point away from defeating Lane (6-4, 3-6, 5-4) before play was suspended.
"I think if you look at teams that make runs deep in the tournament," said Hultquist, "they got good spots all the way through the lineup. Certainly towards the end of the year our freshmen have played really well and they did so today. The same goes for our senior Chris Westerhof. All three of them have played really strong at the end of the year."
In the other match of the day host Ole Miss improved to 21-5 on the season, with a 4-0 sweep against Belmont (7-9). The Rebels improved to 11-2 in NCAA competition at home and will be looking to advance to the "Sweet Sixteen" for the 11th time. They reached the Final Four last year in College Station, Texas.
Florida State is 6-8 in NCAA Tournament competition and 5-3 during trips under Hultquist. The team advanced to both the "Sweet Sixteen" and "Elite Eight" for the first time in school history last season.
Live scoring and video will be available for Sunday's match at http://olemisssports.cstv.com/.
ORDER OF FINISH: Doubles - (2,1,3) Singles - (5,1,4,2,6)