By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA, May 10, 2014 – No. 24 USF took over in singles play and handed No. 33 Florida State a 4-2 loss in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship on Saturday in Gainesville.
The American Athletic Conference champion Bulls (19-6) dropped the doubles point before storming back with singles wins from No. 47 Roberto Cid, Vadym Kalyuzhnyy, Federico Sabogal and Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz. USF will face the Florida-St. John’s winner in the second round 2 p.m. Sunday at Ring Tennis Complex.
“You never know with a young group how they’re going to respond to their first NCAA tournament action,” head coach Matt Hill said. “We have a few older guys, but they’ve never played in this. They handled it really well, they played tough and the biggest thing was they never went away.”
The Seminoles (18-12) won the first meeting of the season, 4-3, in Tallahassee, but the Bulls made sure there would be no season series sweep by seizing control of Saturday’s match when the pressure was on.
FSU grabbed a 1-0 lead in doubles play before Cid, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, evened things up by rolling past No. 66 Dominic Cotrone, 6-3, 6-0, in the top singles position. Cid improved to 22-5 in singles play and the sophomore from the Dominican Republic is 8-4 against ranked opponents this season.
“It was huge. Roberto actually came out a little flat the first game or two and then he just took it to another level,” Hill said. “That took some pressure off a little bit.”
Kalyuzhnyy, a freshman from Donetsk, Ukraine, gave the Bulls their first lead by cruising past Blake Davis, 6-0, 6-3, in the No. 4 singles spot.
“He needed that one. He’s been working really hard on the training court the last two weeks and it clearly paid off,” Hill said. “That was big because now we’re in the lead and we just needed two out of the last four matches.”
FSU tied the score up at 2 with a victory in the No. 3 singles position before Sabogal put the Bulls back ahead by succeeding in a three-set thriller. The senior from Bogota, Colombia bounced back from a loss in the second set to defeat Grayson Goldin, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4, in the No. 6 singles spot.
“Federico’s match was a tough one. That was a back-and-forth, knock-down drag-out brawl,” Hill said.
Gonzalez-Muniz, a sophomore from Gijon Asturas, Spain, has delivered in clutch moments for the Bulls all season and secured the winning point by rallying past Michael Rinaldi, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, in the fifth singles spot.
The third round of NCAA competition through the championship will take place in Athens, Ga. starting on May 16.
NCAA Championship (first round)
No. 24 USF 4, No. 33 FSU 2
Saturday, May 10, 2014, Gainesville
Doubles (order of finish, 3, 1, 2)
1. Roberto Cid/Sasha Gozun (USF) def. Cristian Gonzalez Mendez/Marco Nunez (FSU), 8-5
2. Dominic Cotrone/Blake Davis (FSU) def. Oliver Pramming/Ignacio Gonzalez-Muniz (USF), 8-5
3. Grayson Goldin/Michael Rinaldi (FSU) def. Vadym Kalyuzhnyy/Everth Dzib (USF), 8-1
Singles (order of finish, 1, 4, 3, 6, 5)
1. Cid (USF) def. Cotrone (FSU), 6-3, 6-0
2. Pramming (USF) vs. Gonzalez Mendez (FSU), DNF, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 4-5
3. Nunez (FSU) def. Gozun (USF), 6-4, 1-6, 6-3
4. Kalyuzhnyy (USF) def. Davis (FSU), 6-0, 6-3
5. Gonzalez-Muniz (USF) def. Rinaldi (FSU), 5-7, 6-3, 6-0
6. Federico Sabogal (USF) def. Goldin (FSU), 6-0, 4-6, 6-4