CARY, N.C. - In a match that saw just over five hours of grueling tennis, the No.30-ranked Florida State women's tennis team shocked No.11 Clemson with a 4-3 upset in the quarterfinals of the ACC Championships. With the win, the Seminoles (15-8) grab their ninth all-time victory over the Tigers and first since 2001.
"Today was a total team effort," head coach Jennifer Hyde said. "Championships like this require you to show up for four straight days and we've play two very solid days of tennis. Everyone has done a great job of taking care of their courts."
The deciding dual of the match was on court two between Francesca Segarelli (No.96) and Liz Jeukeng (No.26).
After dropping the first set in a tiebreak, Segarelli quickly fell behind 3-0 in the second. Settling in, Segarelli used her serve to chip into the lead before taking over the lead at 5-4. Segarelli forced a third set after she defended her serve.
In the third, Segarelli looked as if she was going to put away the match quickly after jumping out to a 3-0 lead, however Jeukeng broke two big serves, tying the set 3-3.
On serve, Segarelli was forced into a deuce to decide the point. With the advantage, Segarelli maneuvered during the rally in order to get Jeukeng to lob a short shot in the middle of the court. Segarelli forcefully put the point away with swing down the middle, going up 4-3.
"Today I was really confident,"Segarelli said. "I was down 4-1 in the second set and I was worried a little bit, but then all of a sudden it clicked. I didn't think about anything, my game kept coming and it came to a point in the third set I thought I was playing well and if she was going to beat me, she would have to work."
Jeukeng would tie the dual again 4-4 after her serve before Segarelli went back up 5-4 after holding hers.
Segarelli broke serve, taking the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, advancing the Seminoles into their fifth ACC Semifinal in six seasons.
"For Fran to clinch the match as a senior and for Amy to play with such dominance is so storybook for them," Hyde said. "She played a very good freshman player who has had a ton of success this season. Fran wanted that day today. We've never beat Clemson and now that monkey is off our back."
"It's a feeling you can't even describe," Segarelli said. "I did it for the girls, but I knew that Coach Hyde has never beat Clemson in her career and that motivated me. I wanted to give her that as a present before I left and God gave me the opportunity to be the last one on court and I was able to do it. It was amazing."
Starting off the day with doubles, Segarelli and Daneika Borthwick dropped their match on court one to Yana Koroleva and Beatrice Gumulya, 8-2.
On court two, Mia Vriens and Amy Sargeant got out to a commanding 6-1 lead over Romy Koelzer and Tristen Dewar, however the Tigers battled back to tie the match 7-7. Vriens and Sargeant buckled down and closed out the last two games, winning by a score of 9-7, leaving the deciding match to court three.
"Mia and Amy did a great job of jumping out to a big lead," Hyde said. "They had a little bit of a mental lapse on their court, but they stepped up and got it done."
Kristina Schleich and Kerrie Cartwright went down a break early at 4-2 and teetered back and forth for most of the match. After Cartwright served to pull within one at 7-6, the Seminoles found their break at the right time to knot the dual 7-7. On serve, Schleich put the pair up 8-7, but they could not close out the match as the Clemson team of Ani Miao and Jeukeng forced a tiebreak.
Cartwright and Schleich pulled away in the tiebreak 7-2, stealing the doubles point for the Seminoles.
"It was great getting that doubles point," Hyde said. "The entire match at number three, we did a phenomenal job of hanging in there and we found a way to get a big break. That was tremendous effort by Kristina and Kerrie."
Moving on to singles, Sargeant made it 2-0 after dominating on victory on court four. She earned her 27th win on the year against Miao, 6-2, 6-1.
"Amy was awesome," Hyde said. "She got that second point so quickly for us. She played controlled and solid tennis."
Within the matter of minutes, Clemson tied the match 2-2 with a pair of wins from courts one and three.
After dropping the first set 6-1, Borthwick (No.57) fought back in the second to win a close, 6-4 decision against Koroleva (No.15). However, Koroleva pulled through in the third defeating Borthwick 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.
On court three, Vriens fell in a tiebreak in the first before Gumulaya (No.38) took the second and the match 7-6, 6-3.
Clemson went ahead 3-2 after Cartwright lost on court five. She fell to Koelzar in a grueling, 7-6, 7-5 battle.
With duals on courts two in six left in play, the Seminoles captured a pair of second set victories in order to propel them into decisive third sets.
On court six, Schleich fell into a 5-0 early hole before losing the first, 6-1. Reloading at the break, Schleich got out in front in the second, holding on to a break before Dewar tied the match 5-5. Schleich outlasted Dewar in the second, taking it 7-5.
In the third, Schleich wore down Dewar and tied the match 3-3 with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 win.
"Kristina got down big early," Hyde said. "But she turned it around in the second set and committed herself to playing solid tennis. She's hitting the ball so well right now and she's working the court perfectly and playing her game. The way she was able to dig her way out and fight in her match was impressive."
Segarelli put FSU into its sixth all-time ACC Semifinal with her three-set triumph over Jeunkeng. Segarelli's upset over the No.26-ranked player tied her season highest upset over a ranked opponent.
"I'm so proud of our effort," Hyde said. "They left everything out on the court today. At an event like this, that's the only way you're going to win. We're going to enjoy this one, but we're going to have to do it again all over against a very good Virginia team tomorrow."
After knocking out the No.2 seeded team in the tournament, Florida State will play third-seeded Virginia on Saturday at 1.p.m. The Seminoles fell 4-0 to the Cavaliers exactly one week ago.
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