Saturday, May 8, 2010

Florida State squeezes past Illini Women

February 6, 2010
With everyone on the hunt for ranking points, college tennis matches are being played out until the end.  This means that a 4-3 final match score may not be a close match, but instead a match that was clinched by one team at 4-0 and the other team took the last three matches while their concentration was on celebrating.  This was not  the case with the No. 32 Illinois vs. No. 21 Florida State match on Friday night.  All of those women were fighting until the final match.

It was the home opener for the Illini  women and they had a decent crowd considering it was a 3:00 pm match.  That had finished last season at a high point, having won their first round NCAA Championship match with an upset over Vanderbilt and coming close to doing it again with Fresno State.  That experience gave them a taste of playing with top teams and they are clearly ready to be there.

The doubles point came down to the wire, with the first going to the home team of Marisa Lambropoulos & Chelcie Abajian over Seminoles Federica Suess & Katie Rybakova, 8-3.   Florida State held tough and came back for the next two with tight 9-7 scores.  Then the singles battles began.  It wasn't long before the Illini got even as Megan Fudge had a quick win at No. 2 over Katie Rybakova.  The second point (and a short lead) would also come for Illinois, from Marissa Lambropolous at No. 4, over Amy Sargeant.

For most of the match, I perched myself between courts No. 3 & 5, where there were some true battles going on.  Despite the 6-3,6-2 final win for Francesca Segarelli, don't believe for a second that Chelcie Abajian wasn't a fighting Illini out there.  In fact -- in something you rarely see -- she took a break and a another game at 5-0 in the second, never giving up the chance to come back, before the Seminoles had the point and a 2-2 tie.

The match would continue to be a back and forth affair that could have gone to anyone.  On court six, Amy Allin had lost an early lead before ending up in a tiebreaker in the first.  It was the last match to finish a first set, through long points and games.  Though the games continued at that pace, after dropping that breaker, Allin could not get it back and it was 3-2 Florida State.

It was back to that other great match at No. 5 for the next point.  Breanne Smutko worked incredibly hard for her win, through a tiebreaker in the first and only one break in the second.  Each team now had three points and it was down to the No. 1 court. On that court were two ranked players -- No. 23 Lauren McCreless of Florida State and No. 33 Rachael White.  The first set had gone to White through endless games, but the second  belonged to McCreless.  With the pressure on, the last match stayed close through the first five games until the Seminole broke and kept her lead to her team's win.

The Illini women will be back at the Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday for a double-header against Marquette at 9:00 a.m.and Western Illinois at 1:00. Admission is free.

No. 21 Florida State 4, No. 32 Illinois 3Lauren McCreless (FSU) defeated Rachael White (ILL), 4-6,6-1,6-3
Megan Fudge (ILL) defeated Katie Rybakova (FSU), 6-1,6-3
Francesca Segarelli (FSU) defeated Chelcie Abajian (ILL), 6-4,6-3
Marisa Lambropoulos (ILL) defeated Amy Sargeant (FSU), 6-3,6-2
Breanne Smutko (ILL) defeated Federica Suess (FSU), 7-6(5),6-4
Jessica Sucupira (FSU) defeated Amy Allin (ILL), 7-6(5),6-0
Lauren McCreless/Francesca Segarelli (FSU) defeated Leigh Finnegan/Rachael White (ILL), 9-7
Marisa Lambropoulos/Chelcie Abajian (ILL) defeated Federica Suess/Katie Rybakova (FSU), 8-3
Amy Sargeant/Jessica Sucupira (FSU) defeated Megan Fudge/Breanne Smutko (ILL), 9-7
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