Tech's comeback vs. No. 42 Florida State falls short

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(42) Florida State 4
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BLACKSBURG – Despite claiming three matches at the top three singles spots, the Virginia Tech women’s tennis team concluded its regular season with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to No. 42 Florida State Sunday afternoon at the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Virginia Tech (11-12, 4-10 ACC) dropped its matches at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles slots, respectively, to give Florida State (15-10, 7-7 ACC) the early 1-0 advantage. Of note, senior Sansitha Nandakumar and freshman Luisa Uscocovich were the only Hokie duo to pick up a victory in doubles play, winning by a score of 6-4 at the No. 3 slot.

In singles action, Tech was able to win three-of-six singles matches, but it wasn’t enough, as Florida State’s Daniela Schippers clinched the fourth-match point with a three-set victory on court four.

The Seminoles’ took a 2-0 lead after FSU’s Andrea Garcia picked up a 6-1, 6-1 victory at the No. 5 slot over Nandakumar.

Junior Elena Cerezo-Codina then cut Tech’s deficit to one, as she made quick work of her opponent on court three to put the Hokies on the scoreboard. She topped her second ranked opponent of the year, defeating FSU’s No. 109 Nandini Das in straight sets with a score of 6-1, 6-2. Of note, Cerezo-Codina has now won seven of her last eight matches in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play at the No. 3 slot.

However, Tech’s deficit grew after junior Katherine Butler fell to FSU’s Ariana Rahmanparast at the No. 6 slot in straight sets (6-3, 6-3).

With Tech down 3-1, senior Francesca Fusinato and freshman Natalie Novotna each claimed victories on their respective courts to tie the match at three-all. No. 102 Fusinato topped FSU’s Gabriella Castaneda on court one by a score of 6-4, 6-2. No. 84 Novotna followed suit with another 6-4, 6-2 victory on court two.

With the match tied at three-all, all eyes shifted to court four for the deciding point, which was won by Schippers. Junior Caroline Daxhelet claimed the first set, but could not find her groove in the final to sets to claim the victory. Schippers ultimately took control in the third set, winning the match by a score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to secure the team victory.

Of note, Tech also celebrated the careers of Fusinato and Nandakumar at Sunday’s match. The senior duo has represented Tech in fine fashion and will exit as two of the most talented and motivated student-athletes of coach Terry Ann Zawacki-Woods long 17-year tenure.

“Fusi has truly left behind a legacy here at Virginia Tech,” Zawacki-Woods said. “She has always represented Tech in first-class fashion with humility, grace and character. We will miss her court presence, work ethic and loyalty to our program and appreciate the impact she has left on all of us.

“Sanju also has made a terrific impact on our program. Her leadership skills were always very evident in the way she cared for her teammates and Virginia Tech. We will miss the competitiveness Sanju also played with as well as her fight, heart and enthusiasm.”

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.

“Thank you seniors for all that you have done for Virginia Tech, our tennis program and for each of us,” Zawacki-Woods said. “The difference you have made has made our program better for seasons to come. We are grateful to you and wish you the best of luck!”

Virginia Tech has a short week ahead of itself, as the team returns to the courts on Wednesday, April 26, for the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Tennis Championships, at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College, in Rome, Georgia. Tech, seeded No. 13, will take on No. 12-seed Boston College in a 10 a.m. matchup on Wednesday. Click HERE for a full bracket.

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

Doubles Competition:

No. 1: Julia Mikulski/Andrea Garcia (FSU) def. #61 Caroline Daxhelet/Francesca Fusinato (VT), 6-2

No. 2: Nandini Das/Ariana Rahmanparast (FSU) def. Elena Cerezo-Codina/Natalie Novotna (VT), 6-2

No. 3: Luisa Uscocovich/Sansitha Nandakumar (VT) def. Gabriella Castaneda/Daniela Schippers (FSU), 6-4

Singles Competition:

No. 1: #102 Francesca Fusinato (Tech) def. Gabriella Castaneda (FSU), 6-4, 6-2

No. 2: #84 Natalie Novotna (Tech) def. Nandini Das (FSU), 6-4, 6-2

No. 3: Elena Cerezo-Codina (Tech) def. #109 Julia Mikulski (FSU), 6-1, 6-2

No. 4: Daniela Schippers (FSU) def. Caroline Daxhelet (Tech), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

No. 5: Andrea Garcia (FSU) def. Sansitha Nandakumar (Tech), 6-1, 6-1

No. 6: Ariana Rahmanparast (FSU) def. Katherine Butler (Tech), 6-3, 6-3

Order of Finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (5,3,6,1,2,4)

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