TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State women's tennis team (15-8, 10-5) has wrapped up what is perhaps the most successful regular season and ACC Tournament run in program history. Here is a look back at the incredible accomplishments of the Seminoles up to this point.
FSU Shocks No. 3 Duke and No. 11 Virginia At ACC Championships
Florida State went on a tear of eight straight victories, including four wins over top 11 opponents. During that stretch the Seminoles stunned No. 11 Virginia indoors at UNC and then triumphed 4-3 over No. 3 Duke at the Cary Tennis Park in North Carolina during the ACC Championships. The Seminoles fell just one point short of winning the title against No. 5 North Carolina, but the loss will only fuel the team going forward.
"We went into the ACC's this year to win it and felt like anything short of that was too low of a goal to have," said head coach Jennifer Hyde. "This team put themselves in a position to win it a championship and came literally one point from achieving that. That would have been the first ACC title for women's tennis and I think that speaks volumes for where this program is, where we have come from and where we are going. I think all of this has been a real shot in the arm for the team as they ride a nice wave of momentum right now. We have a little time to catch our breath this week and finish up our academic demands and then it's time to reset and refocus things on the NCAA Championships."
With the triumphs over Virginia and Duke, FSU made its fourth-consecutive semifinal appearance and fifth overall in program history. Making it to the title match was also the programs second ever ACC Championship appearance. The Seminoles only other appearance occurred in 1994 when Hyde was a student athlete on the team. The magical run has certainly given the team more confidence going forward.
"For the whole team it has probably been the best two weeks for this program has had in its history and to just to be part of that has been so special," said freshman Ruth Seaborne. "To be able to share this experience with the rest of the team and coaches is amazing. Everyone was so proud and we were right there. Going into the week we had so much belief we could do it and I guess it was just UNC's day. They had so many fans there and they just did a good job to fight back from match point and take the title."
`Noles In The Polls
The Florida State women's tennis team continues to be a national powerhouse this season as it has consistently been ranked among the top 25 while having several `Noles ranked in singles. FSU had moved all the way up from No. 36 to No. 18 prior to this week's movement up to No. 11 in the ITA National Rankings. The No. 11 ranking by the ITA breaks the previous high of No. 14 set by last season's team.
"It definitely shows we are right there and that deserve to be in the top ten," said Seaborne. "I think everyone was a little disappointed we were only one spot away from being in the top ten but we are also very happy because it's the highest we have ever been. We just all believe we can go even higher so we are not content quite yet. We are still on our way."
Leading the way on the ITA Singles Rankings is senior Katie Rybakova who is currently ranked No. 30. Sophomore Noemie Scharle currently checks in at No. 50, while true freshman Ruth Seaborne checks in at No. 123 for the first singles ranking of her career. Seaborne is also ranked in doubles, along with partner Francesca Segarelli, as the duo moved up from No. 81 to No. 72.
`Noles Honored By The ACC
The honors continue for the Florida State women's tennis team as senior Katie Rybakova and sophomore Francesca Segarelli have been named to the 2011 All-ACC Women's Tennis Team. The honor is the fourth overall All-ACC selection of Rybakova's career, the most in school history. The honor is the first for Segarelli but she was named as the ACC Freshman of the Year last season.
Rybakova, currently ranked No. 30, has owned the No. 1 position for the Seminoles nearly all season. The Coral Springs, Fla., native holds a 23-15 record including a 15-8 mark in dual-match play with nine victories over ranked players. In doubles, Rybakova has shared the court with sophomore Amy Sargeant for most of the spring season. The senior holds a 21-13 mark including a 15-8 mark in dual-match play. In just her second year representing the Garnet and Gold,
Segarelli has had a significant impact on the success of the team as she has posted a 11-11 singles record in dual matches that includes five wins over ranked opponents and a doubles mark of 17-12. Segarelli has held the No. 2 spot for most of the season. The Rome, Italy native looks to continue a successful post season with the Seminoles at the NCAA's.
Aside from Duke and UNC, who led with four and thee selections, Florida State finished tied with Clemson and Miami as the only other schools to have multiple selections on the All-ACC list.
Seniors Setting The Tone
Seniors Federica Suess and Katie Rybakova have consistently led Florida State this season. Both seniors have continued to step up for the `Noles as Rybakova has 23 victories in singles, marking the most on the team and ties a school record for her fourth straight season of 20 wins or more. Suess holds the second best singles record on the season with 20 wins, marking the fourth 20 win season of her career as well. In addition to their impressive stats in singles, Rybakova boasts FSU's best doubles wins record with 21 victories while Suess holds second spot on the list with a notable 16 triumphs.
`Noles Reach Milestones
After guiding her team to its first ever NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2010, head coach Jennifer Hyde entered the 2011 season with 88 career victories. With the stunning upset wins over No. 4 North Carolina and No. 3 Duke, Hyde earned the 99th and 100th victories of her career. Hyde currently stands at 103 career victories with the run in the ACC Championships. The same can also be said for senior Katie Rybakova who on senior day against the Blue Devils defeated No. 38 Nadine Fahoum to claim the 100th victory of her career.
The wins over the Tar Heels and Blue Devils mark the two highest ranked wins in program history. Florida State followed that by defeating No. 11 Virginia and then No. 3 Duke again in the ACC Semifinals. During the ACC Championships Federica Suess surpassed former teammates Lauren McCreless and Jessica Sucupira as FSU's all-time career singles wins leader with 104 career victories. With 102 victories Rybakova isn't far behind as she is currently tied with Sucupira and McCreless.
Higher Goals Still To Reach
In 2010 Florida State hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament for just the second time in program history and advanced to its first ever NCAA Round of 16 appearance. Another Sweet Sixteen showing is just one of many goals the team has their sights on for the rest of this year.
"If you look back on the season from the beginning to how we are now just shows how much potential we have and we are still not done yet," said sophomore Noemie Scharle. "We still have NCAA's and this past weekend was one of the best of my career here at FSU. We just all played amazing tennis and it was just great for us to come together at the end of the season so I can't wait to make another run in the NCAA's."
Although the Seminoles just came up a little short of winning the ACC Championship, the team will use the momentum from their magical run and the knowledge of how close they were to fuel them towards another run in the NCAA Championships.
"I think coming up a little short at the ACC's keeps the hunger intact," said Hyde. "I think that loss will continue to burn deep in our bellies and we will take that fire with us into the NCAA's. That burn will still be there next year when we go back to the ACC Championships and will make us better for it. We are excited to get ready for the NCAA's and I think everyone believes there is absolutely no limit to what we can do this next month. The belief is running deep and it keeps growing and growing. If you have a team of people that believe in what you are doing and believe in each other, there is nothing that can't be accomplished. I know that might sound cliché, but in sport is where it rings true the most and I believe you are seeing it happen right here with this team."