CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – After rain caused the Florida State women’s tennis team to travel from Winston Salem to Chapel Hill, history was made. The Seminoles did something no other tennis team at Florida State has ever done: make it to the Elite 8. With a 4-3 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, the Seminoles will take on Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals.
“I don’t think I can describe how I am feeling right now,” said head coach Jennifer Hyde. “I continue to be very proud of these girls. They fight and hang around. They are just tough. They are a tough group of competitors and it has been a long road to get us where we are. It has taken a lot of different people, and a lot of blood sweat and tears to get us back here. These kids have been amazing. I am just at a loss for words.”
For just the seventh time all season, the Seminoles dropped the doubles point. Florida State lost court two quickly as they fell behind 3-0 early. The pair of junior Julia Mikulski and sophomore Andrea Garcia grabbed the fourth game, but that was all as they fell 6-1. Court two lost the first game but jumped out to a 2-1 lead. The Seminole duo of senior Gabby Castaneda and freshman Petra Hule continued to battle back and forth with Tulane’s R.J. van Rensburg and Tamara Kupkova. The Florida State pair prevailed as they won the last three games and the match on court three, 6-4. With the doubles point on the line, it came down to junior Ariana Rahmanparast and sophomore Carla Touly on court one. They jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but Tulsa fought back to tie it at four. With the match tied at five, Tulane took a 40-0 lead before the Seminoles tied it up, 40-40, but Tulane was able to win the deciding point to take a 6-5 advantage. The Seminole duo could not hold on as Tulsa captured court one 7-5 and the doubles point.
The Garnet and Gold made a statement early in singles, winning four first sets. Courts one and two got off quick and gave the Seminoles their first lead of the match. Hule dominated No. 112 Martina Okalova on court two, taking the first set 6-3 and the second 6-2 to tie things up at one. Touly made quick work of her own on court one. She took down No. 80 Ksenia Laskutova 6-1 in the first set and 6-2 in the second set.
Tulane tied it back up with a straight-set win on court one. The Golden Hurricane took the first set from sophomore Nandini Das 6-2. In the second set, Das went down 5-2 and fought back to make it 5-4 before losing on court three. Not too long after, Garcia lost on court six giving Tulsa the lead again.
Just like last week, the Seminoles shined with their backs against the wall. On court four, Castaneda took the first set 6-4 but was not as fortunate in the second set as she was swept 6-0. In the third set, Castaneda jumped out to a 3-0 lead before her opponent closed the gap. Up 5-4 on a deuce point, Castaneda showed her experience, taking the point and the match on court four to tie the dual up at three.
“I believed in everyone the whole match,” said Castaneda. “I couldn’t see the scoreboard on the other side, but I could feel the energy and hear the excitement and the cheering and knew we were going to win.”
With the match on the line, Rahmanparast shined. She took the first set 6-1 before losing the second set 6-4. In the third set, Rahmanparast was back and forth until it was 2-2. She turned it on at the point taking a 4-2 lead before finishing off her opponent 6-3.
“It was an indescribable feeling making the Elite 8,” said Rahmanparast. “This is a dream come true.”
The Seminoles will be taking on one seeded Vanderbilt Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
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#21 FLORIDA STATE (21-8) def. #24 TULSA (23-6), 4-3
1. Ksenia Laskutova/Martha Matoula (TULSA) def. #56 Carla Touly/Ariana Rahmanparast (FLORIDA STATE) 7-5
2. Vera Ploner/Shura Poppe (TULSA) def. Julia Mikulski/Andrea Garcia (FLORIDA STATE) 6-1
3. Gabriella Castaneda/Petra Hule (FLORIDA STATE) def. Rouxanne Janse van Rensburg/Tamara Kupkova (TULSA) 6-4
1. #19 Carla Touly (FLORIDA STATE) def #80 Ksenia Laskutova (TULSA) 6-1, 6-2
2. #122 Petra Hule (FLORIDA STATE) def. #112 Martina Okalova (TULSA) 6-3, 6-2
3. Tamara Kupkova (TULSA) vs. Nandini Das (FLORIDA STATE) 6-2, 6-4
4 Gabriella Castaneda (FLORIDA STATE) def. Martha Matoula (TULSA) 6-4, 0-6, 6-4
5. Ariana Rahmanparast (FLORIDA STATE) def. Vera Ploner (TULSA) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3
6. Shura Poppe (TULSA) vs. Andrea Garcia (FLORIDA STATE) 6-4, 6-2
Doubles: (2,3,1) Singles (2,1,3,6,4,5)