Hokies conclude regular season with two top-45 opponents

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BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech women’s tennis team hosts its final pair of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) matches this weekend, as the Hokies welcome No. 39 Miami on Friday, April 21, and No. 42 Florida State on Sunday, April 23.

Friday’s contest against the Hurricane (8-10, 6-6 ACC) is set to begin at 3 p.m. inside the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center, while Sunday’s match against the Seminoles (14-9, 6-6 ACC) is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.

“Every weekend has been a challenge for us throughout the spring, and I am expecting very competitive matches on both Friday and Sunday,” said coach Terry Ann Zawacki-Woods. “Our team has continually gotten better and better with each match, and I’m really excited for them to keep building off the positive momentum we’ve been having.”

Admission is free for both events, and the first 50 fans at Friday’s match will receive a free VT tennis t-shirt. Also, don’t forget to pick up a loyalty card at the marketing table. With this year’s loyalty card, fans can check in to select tennis matches and earn a prize at the end of the season.

Virginia Tech also will celebrate its seniors prior to Sunday’s match. The senior duo of Francesca Fusinato and Sansitha Nandakumar has represented Tech in fine fashion and will exit as two of the most talented and motivated student-athletes of coach Zawacki-Woods long 14-year tenure.

“It will be a special weekend for us, as we honor Fusi and Sanju and thank them for the tremendous impact they have made on the entire program,” Zawacki-Woods said.

The senior tandem has been a huge part of Tech’s recent success, helping lead its team to two NCAA tournament berths and an ACC quarterfinal appearance. Most notably, Fusinato and Nandakumar were only sophomores when Tech experienced its best season since joining the ACC in 2005, advancing to the ACC quarterfinals for the first time in program history and claiming an at-large NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in 15 years.

“There has been so many different ways that they’ve made a great impact on the program,” Zawacki-Woods said. “Since that year (2015), they have exemplified their work ethic as well as the character and leadership that they bring to this team. They truly care about this program, and they show how much they want to get better, both individually and as a team. They are committed and loyal to their teammates. It has been fantastic. You can see it on the court when they are competing and practicing. They have fun personalities. They really make the environment a very positive place.”

Last week, Tech (11-10, 4-8 ACC) pulled off a sweep of ACC opponents, topping both Syracuse and then-No. 25 N.C. State by a score of 4-3 on April 13 and 15, respectively, in Blacksburg. With Sunday’s victory, Tech won its third straight ACC match of the season and its fourth in the past five.

Of note, freshman Natalie Novotna and Fusinato are ranked in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) top-125 singles poll, checking in at No. 84 and No. 102, respectively. Novotna paces the Hokie roster with 16 victories, followed by Fusinato with 14. Additionally, Fusinato and junior Caroline Daxhelet are ranked as the No. 61 doubles tandem in the country, boasting a 4-6 mark at the No. 1 slot. The Hokie duo has upset two top-35 opponents since pairing up together midway through the season.

Tech and Miami will meet for the 19th time in program history, as the Hokies look to capture their second win over the Hurricane in the all-time series. During the team’s last meeting, the Hokies dropped a 6-1 decision at then-No. 12 Miami on March 18, 2016.

The Hurricane most recently closed their home slate with a pair of wins over then-No. 46 Clemson, 4-3, on April 14 and Pittsburgh, 7-0, on April 16. In singles play, Miami continues to have two ranked individuals. Sinead Lohan, the reigning ACC Women’s Tennis Player of the Week, is No. 17 on the list. Estela Perez-Somarriba, who boasts a 17-3 singles record this spring, comes in at No. 38. The Hurricane also have one nationally-ranked doubles pair, as Lohan and Maci Epstein hold steady at No. 64 overall.

Additionally, Tech and Florida State will meet for the 20th time in the all-time series, as the Seminoles hold a 16-3 edge over the Hokies. Last season, the Hokies defeated the Seminoles by a score of 4-3 on March 20, at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center in Tallahassee, Florida.

Despite coming off a 5-2 loss to Clemson at home on April 16, the Seminoles’ recent 6-0 winning streak in conference play was enough to propel them up from No. 47 to No. 42 in the ITA national rankings this week. Playing primarily at the No. 3 singles slot, Julia Mikulski holds a 10-7 dual-match record this season and is the lone Seminole ranked inside the ITA singles poll at No. 109.

Prior to Sunday’s match, the Seminoles will take on instate foe Virginia on Friday afternoon.

Fans can follow all the action during each match of the 2017 season by following the squad on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

For updates on Virginia Tech women's tennis, follow the Hokies on Twitter

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