March 2, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a huge victory like the No. 20 Florida State women's tennis team had over 10th-ranked rival Miami on Friday, it's very conceivable that the Seminoles could have had a letdown in their Sunday (March 2) match with Florida International. That was anything but the case as Florida State rolled to a 7-0 decision over the Panthers at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.
FSU improved to 10-1 on the year and stayed undefeated at home. Florida International dropped to 3-6. "We're at the point where the confidence is high, but it's not so much that we can take anyone ever for granted," FSU head coach Jennifer Hyde said of the potential letdown. "FIU has been a dangerous team every year that I've been here and even without a couple of players in the line-up they are unbelievably competitive."
Florida International only had five players make the trip so they forfeited the number six singles position. Sophomore Lauren Macfarlane (Ogden, Utah) cruised through her singles match at number two. She only dropped four games the entire way as she beat Priscilla Castillo 6-2, 6-2.
At the number one spot, freshman Katie Rybakova (Coral Springs, Fla.), the number 46 player in the country, found herself down 1-3 in the first set against Maria Pazo. She came back to pick up two breaks, including the final game of the set, to win 6-4. In the second set, Rybakova and Pazo exchanged five breaks before Rybakova held her final two serves for the 6-3 decision that gave FSU the match.
Sophomore Jessica Wente (Whitehouse, Texas) found herself down nearly the entire first set of her number four match to Maria Vallaciani. Down 5-3, she rallied to tie the match at five then went on to win the first-set tiebreaker 7-1. She got two breaks early in the second set to prevail 7-6 (1), 6-3.
On court three, senior Carolin Walter (Bingen, Germany) started out on fire, winning the first set 6-3 over Marijana Cutuk, but she fell behind 3-1 in the second set. She won the next four games to take a 5-3 advantage, but Cutuk rallied to win the next four for the 7-5 second set victory. With the team match already decided, the number three match was settled in a third-set super tiebreaker that Walter won 10-3.
The closest match of the day was a slugfest on court five. Senior Tapiwa Marobela (Gabarona, Botswana) got a late break in the first set to go up 6-5, but FIU's Maria Spenceley got a break of her own to force the set to a tiebreaker. Marobela cruised to the 7-1 decision to win the first set 7-6 (1). It appeared Marobela was going to run away with the match as she went up 3-1 in the second set, but Spenceley came back to win five of the last six games to take the second set 6-4. The senior was down nearly the entire third-set super tiebreaker, including 5-7, but she won five of the last six points to prevail 10-8.
"They're all on a mission right now and they don't want to let any opportunities go by," Hyde said of her team. "They could have very easily folded over and said `yeah we got the point" and just gotten off the court, but they want to win. They're all playing for spots. One of the things that is unique about this year's team is that we've got eight healthy bodies ready so everybody has to take advantage of the opportunities when they get the chance."
The Seminoles got a break in doubles as the Panthers had to default at number three which meant the Seminoles only had to win one of the two matches to claim the doubles point. At number two, Wente and Macfarlene made sure of that as they pick up a pair of breaks early and two more at the end for the 8-2 triumph over Cutuk and Vallasciani.
In the number one position, Walter and Rybakova got off to a fast start with a 3-0 advantage before Pazo and Castillo battled back to tie the bout at 3-3. The Seminole due cruised from there as they won the last four points for the 8-3 decision.
Florida State will play host to its biggest home match of the regular season next Friday (March 7) when it takes on second-ranked Georgia Tech at 3 p.m.