Cary, NC - Behind another 4-3 upsetting win, the Florida State women’s tennis team is heading to its third ACC Championship Final in school history. The 30th-ranked Seminoles (16-8) defeated No.11- ranked Virginia just one week after falling to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va. 4-0.
Florida State advances to take on fourth-seeded (No.10) Miami at 11 a.m.
“What a day,” head coach Jennifer Hyde said. “The amount of heart and guts that we are showing through every match out there is unbelievably inspiring. You can’t ever count this team out.”
In the first set, Sargeant got out in front before surrendering the lead 5-4 against Li Xi. Sargeant did not trail for long, as she grabbed the next two games, going up 6-5, but Xi forced a first-set tiebreaker by tying the match 6-6.
In tiebreak, Xi was no challenge for Sargeant as she cruised to a 7-2 win, securing the first set 7-6.
Sargeant contested in the second set evenly with Xi, before Xi went up a break and held on to win 6-4, forcing a decisive third.
“I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy,” Sargeant said. “It was going to come down to me and Kerrie (Cartwright). The girl I was playing started to step up and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
In the third, Sargeant held serve getting out to a 1-0 edge. However, Xi appeared to put Sargeant away after winning the next four games behind long, intense rallies.
With Sargeant facing a 1-4 hole in the deciding dual, she quickly used her serve to spark a three-game charge to tie the set 4-4.
“Even at 4-1 down I knew that it was a matter of just believing in myself,” Sargeant said. “I just needed to hang in there and it was such a high level of tennis that I knew who ever stepped up was going to win.”
Xi stopped Sargeant’s streak by breaking serve going ahead 5-4, however Sargeant returned the favor, tying it once again 5-5.
“I knew I needed to take control and be the one to dictate the points first.” Sargeant added.
On serve, Sargeant looked to put the game away with ease, but a few mistakes and good plays by Xi forced the game to deuce. After two stalemates, Sargeant took advantage and put one of Xi’s shots away down the middle to go ahead 6-5.
“I kept telling myself, ‘you’re almost there, one more point’ and looking into coach’s eyes telling her I got this. I knew that in moments like this you give it your all or nothing at all and know that Kerrie just won it gave me a boost to do this for the team.”
Sargeant closed out the match with four quick points for her 28th win on the year, 7-6,4-6, 7-5.
“I’m usually the first one off court,” Sargeant said. “So this is a rare occasion for me. But knowing that it came down to me during the Duke match this season and I couldn’t pull through, I wasn’t going to let this moment pass me by.”
In doubles, Florida State grabbed the edge with a convincing 8-1 victory on court two as Mia Vriens and Sargeant defeated Hana Tomljanovic and Julia Elbaba.
Virginia answered on court one as Daneika Borthwick and Francesca Segarelli fell to Stephanie Nauta and Erin Vierra 8-3, leaving the deciding match to court three.
Similar to Friday’s match, Kerrie Cartwright and Kristina Schleich fell down a break early, however they tied the match 4-4. The Virginia pair of Xi and Maria Fuccillio won the next three games, taking the lead 7-4.
However, Schleich and Cartwright refused to quit and pulled to within one at 7-6, fighting off a match point in the process.
Looking to break to stay alive, Schleich and Cartwright fended off two more match points but could not pull out the task as the Cavaliers won the match 8-6, capturing the doubles point.
In singles, the Seminoles were able to gain some momentum back after taking four key first set wins in singles, including two in tiebreaking fashion.
Schleich tied the match 1-1 after a controlling 6-0, 6-3 victory on court six against Caryssa Peretz.
“Kristina absolutely dismantled her opponent today after struggling with her a week ago,” Hyde said.
Virginia answered by adding two points with wins on courts one and two. Borthwick (No.57) fell to Elbaba (No.12 ) 6-1, 6-4 one court one while Segarelli (No. 96)lost her match to Nauta (No.73) on court two, 6-4, 6-2.
With the Seminoles down 3-1, the four remaining matches all had the edge with first set wins.
Vriens was locked in a battle with Tomljanovic on court three. Vriens teetered with the first set lead before Tomljanovic went ahead 5-4. Vriens knotted it at 5-5, before serving to take the lead 6-5. Once again, Tomlijanovic tied the set, forcing a tiebreak.
In the tiebreaker, Vriens and Tomljanovic traded leads multiple times, before Vriens closed it out 7-4.
In the second, Vriens fought off a heated Tomljanovic to take the match 7-6, 6-4 pulling the ‘Noles to within one at 3-2 with courts four and five left in play.
“I don’t have enough to say about Mia,” Hyde said. “She is playing with sheer will right now. She stepped up in such a big way today. She’s doing this for the team and I have so much respect for what she is putting out there right now.”
On court five, Cartwright got out to a 6-3 first set win over Vierra before dropping the second in a tight 6-4 decision.
In the third, Cartwright took the lead early and wore down Vierra in order to go up a break at 5-3. Vierra made it 5-4 before Cartwright concluded the match on serve, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
“Kerrie’s match was toe-to-toe,” Hyde said. “It was an absolute dogfight. She stayed calm and cool and stuck to a game plan and got through a tough match for her and this team.”
Playing next to Sargeant, Cartwright finished her match once Sargeant was down 4-3 in the third.
The ACC Finals will start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The Seminoles are 1-2 all-time against the Hurricanes in the ACC Tournament. This will be the first time the two teams have met in the final.
Earlier this season, the Seminoles pulled off an upset in Coral Gables over then No.11-ranked Miami, 4-3 for just the fifth time in FSU history.
“We’ve got three days behind us now,” Hyde said. “We’ve got one more to go. We’ll enjoy this, but we’ve got one more day on our radar and we’re going to be ready to go against Miami.”
For more information, check back to Seminoles.com, Facebook and Twitter.
No. 7 Florida State 4, No. 2 Clemson 3
#7 Florida State 4, #3 Virginia 3
1. Julia Elbaba (VA) def. Daneika Borthwick 6-1, 6-4
2. Stephanie Nauta (VA) def. Francesca Segarelli 6-4, 6-2
3. Mia Vriens (VA) def. Hana Tomljanovic 7-6, 6-4
4. Amy Sargeant (FS) def. Li Xi 7-6, 4-6, 7-5
5. Kerrie Cartwright (FS) def. Erin Vierra 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
6. Kristina Schleich (FS) def. Caryssa Peretz 6-0, 6-3
Order of finish: 6, 1, 2, 3, 5, 4*
1. Nauta/Vierra (VA) def. Segarelli/Borthwick 8-5
2. Vriens/Sargeant (FS) def. Elbaba/Tomljanovic 8-1
3. Xi/Fuccillo (VA) def. Cartwright/Schleich 8-6
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3*