ATHENS, Ga. – The Florida State men’s tennis team trailed Boise State, 3-0, on Saturday, but mounted an amazing comeback to capture a 4-3 victory over the Broncos in the first round of the NCAA Regionals to advance to the tournament’s second day for the seventh time in eight seasons.
In a match that lasted four-and-half hours at the at the University of Georgia’s Dan Magill Tennis Complex, the outcome was decided on court four, where Seminoles’ freshman Benjamin Lock outlasted Boise State’s Nathan Sereke in three sets, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 7-5, to clinch FSU’s path to the second round. Lock trailed Sereke, 4-2, in the third set, but rallied to propel the Seminoles into a 2 p.m. matchup on Sunday against host Georgia, who defeated South Carolina State, 4-0, on Saturday.
“Ben was down in that third set, but he got a couple of breaks and came back to win,” Florida State head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “We weren’t nervous at all. Ben has clinched matches for us all season long.
“Our team has been down 3-0 and came back and won in my career before, but I can’t remember coming back like this in the NCAA Tournament. It’s a great win for our team. I’m so proud of our guys.”
“When Jordan won his match on court one, it was now 3-3,” said Lock. “I was in the second tiebreaker and started to feel the pressure. When I lost the second set, I knew that the third was going to be a battle. I just told myself to keep making one more extra ball over the net than my opponent. When it came to match point I just told myself not to miss.
“It was an unreal feeling to win a match like this, one of the best feelings of my life. I’m just so glad that I got to play a match like this and under these circumstances. It’s something I will keep with me for the rest of my life.”
Georgia’s web site, www.georgiadogs.com, will have a live stream and live scoring for Sunday’s match.
The Broncos jumped out to a 1-0 lead by claiming the doubles point. Boise State’s No. 1 tandem of James Meredith and Sereke defeated FSU’s duo of Blake Davis and Jordan Kelly-Houston, 8-5, and the Bo. 3 Bronco team of Andy Bettles and Flipp Pogostkin beat FSU’s Dominic Cotrone and Anderson Reed, 8-2. FSU won on court two, as Andres Bucaro and Lock defeated Damian Hume and Scott Sears, 8-3.
Boise State took a commanded 3-0 lead by winning the first two singles match to finish, as BSU’s Hume routed FSU’s Davis, 6-1, 6-4, on court two and Bettles defeated Bucaro, 6-2, 6-3, on court three. For Bucaro, it was just his seventh loss in singles all season.
Florida State fought back to make the score 3-2 moments later, however, with straight-set victories of its own on courts five and six. Nearly simultaneously, FSU’s Jason Zafiros defeated BSU’s Sears, 6-3, 6-4, on court six, while Nole Cristian Gonzalez Mendez took down Bronco Pogostkin, 7-5, 6-4 on court five.
“Jason and Cristian gave us two victories at almost the exact same time that were huge for us,” Hultquist said. “Cristian even came from behind to win his match, too.”
The match came down to courts one and four, where FSU’s No. 1 player, Kelly Houston, and Lock were entrenched in three-set battles.
Kelly-Houston hung on to defeat Boise State’s Meredith, ranked No. 94, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, on court one, before Lock’s match-clinching victory over Sereke.
For more information on the FSU men’s tennis team follow the Seminoles on Twitter at: @FSU_MTennis.
Florida State 4, Boise State 3
1. James Meredith/Nathan Sereke (BSU) def. #54 Blake Davis/Jordan Kelly-Houston (FSU) 8-5
2. Andres Bucaro/Benjamin Lock (FSU) def. Damian Hume/Scott Sears (BSU) 8-3
3. Andy Bettles/Filipp Pogostkin (BSU) def. Dominic Cotrone/Anderson Reed (FSU) 8-2
1. Jordan Kelly-Houston (FSU) def. #94 James Meredith (BSU) 6-1, 3-6, 6-4
2. #69 Damian Hume (BSU) def. Blake Davis (FSU) 6-1, 6-4
3. Andy Bettles (BSU) def. Andres Bucaro (FSU) 6-2, 6-3
4. Benjamin Lock (FSU) def. Nathan Sereke (BSU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (2-7), 7-5
5. Cristian Gonzalez (FSU) def. Filipp Pogostkin (BSU) 7-5, 6-4
6. Jason Zafiros (FSU) def. Scott Sears (BSU) 6-3, 6-4
Boise State 26-7; National ranking #37
Florida State 19-9; National ranking #33
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (2,3,6,5,1,4)
Official: Jim Russell T-4:30