Tallahassee, FL - After failing to compete last season due to weather, the rivalry between the No. 27 Florida State men’s tennis team (5-2) and the No. 7 Florida Gators (4-0) resumes noon on Sunday at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center. Florida will be Florida State’s third opponent ranked in the top ten within the past four matches.
“We hope a lot of people come out and watch us and then go home and watch the Super Bowl,” said head coach Dwayne Hultquist. “Playing at home brings a lot of energy. With a big crowd like we had when we played No. 1 Duke in basketball and we were able to upset them, having the same crowd for tennis does the same thing. It inspires our players and makes it harder for theirs. It makes you feel a little bit more pressure when you have 500 people routing against you.”
The first match between the two teams took place in 1956 when the Gators won 9-0. The Gators hold a 20-50 record over Florida State with the Seminoles last win in 2007. With last year’s rained out matches, Florida State has little experience playing them in dual matches. Seniors Clint Bowles and Vahid Mirzadeh have a 3-0 record in doubles against Florida.
“Florida has a lot of very talented players, they are very deep,” continued Hultquist. “Their No. 1 player, Alexandre Lacroix, is one of the better players in the country. He has shown in singles and doubles that he is very strong. I think we’re going to have to play well and try to compete and beat him in either singles or doubles.”
The Seminoles are returning home after a trip to California where they lost to No. 2 USC and No. 6 UCLA but defeated No. 28 Fresno State. Including this week, 21 of Florida State’s 24 opponents are ranked in by the ITA making it their toughest schedule ever.
Currently No. 42 in singles, Mirzadeh (Wellington, Fla.) is in the midst of a six match winning streak. In doubles play, he and sophomore Connor Smith (Tampa, Fla.) are undefeated this spring with an 8-0 record. Between singles and doubles, the ‘Noles have a winning record on every court but one. No. 37 Bowles (Tampa, Fla.) is currently fifth in all-time singles wins (87) and tied at 6th in all-time overall wins with 154.
Florida brings three ranked single opponents with No. 4 Alexandre Lacroix, No. 28 Sekou Bangoura, Jr. and No. 52 Bob can Overbeek. Florida is also ranked No. 11 and No. 54 in doubles.
Admission to the Scott Speicher Tennis Center is free. The first fans will receive a FSU tennis magnet and free pizza will be available between singles and doubles.