Column: Men’s Tennis’ Sweet 16 Run is One of the Better FSU Stories of the Year
Florida State athletics

Column: Men’s Tennis’ Sweet 16 Run is One of the Better FSU Stories of the Year

To say it was a busy weekend for Florida State athletics would be an understatement.

For the third time, FSU beach volleyball reached the national championship dual before coming up short to mighty USC. FSU softball closed the regular season by hitting home runs in record numbers, headlined by Sydney Sherrill’s school record three blasts in a 10-6 win over NC State.

Perhaps one of the more overlooked stories of the weekend however, was what the Seminoles accomplished on the tennis court. Against No. 11 Georgia in Athens, the FSU men won the final three matches to pull off an improbable 4-3 win and clinch its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 2009.

“At one point it didn’t really look that good for us,” head coach Dwayne Hultquist said in a release. “We kept battling back.”

A Day to Remember in Athens

FSU was able to take the doubles point on Saturday, but through three matches, things looked bleak. Georgia had won three straight matches in straight sets and not a single set was closer than 6-3.

With little margin for error, FSU rose to win the final three. Josh Dous Karpenschif cut the deficit to 3-2 with a straight set victory before Maks Silagy found a way to outlast Georgia’s Miguel Perez Pena in three sets.

All eyes turned to Court 3.

After dropping the first set to Georgia’s Trent Bryde, the No. 109 player in the nation, Sebastian Arcila was able to force a decisive third. With the score knotted 5-5, Arcila was finally able to break serve. Entering the contest with a record of 2-7 in dual play, he then held serve for the victory.

“Sebastian played a great match against a really good player,” Hultquist added in a media release. “He overcame an overrule, overcame a match point and finished it off with an ace. I’m really proud of him. He really stepped it up at the biggest time, and I’m sure this is something he’ll always remember.”

Onto the Sweet 16

FSU will take on another national seed from the SEC in Tennessee on Saturday. The No. 6 Volunteers knocked off Tennessee Tech and Duke to advance.

To truly appreciate where FSU is, it’s important to remember where it’s been in recent years. Last season, FSU finished just 10-16 and 2-10 in ACC play. It was FSU’s first losing season since 2011. In conference, only Boston College had a worse record.

FSU was off to a solid 11-4 start in 2020 before the season was canceled at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Seminoles had been eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the three seasons prior, including in 2018 when they won a program record 28 duals and were selected as a regional host and the No. 12 national seed. With expectations as high as they had been in a long time, that season ended with a 4-2 upset loss to Alabama.

New Faces Help Exceed Expectations

A Sweet 16 appearance was hardly the expectation for FSU coming into this season or even the NCAA Tournament. Early on however, it was apparent that the Seminoles were significantly better than last season.

FSU posted the top recruiting class in the country in 2021, according to ITA, and the class didn’t disappoint. Youcef Rihane has posted an 11-7 record in team competitions this year while Dous Karpenschif is 13-9.

Redshirted in 2021, Silagy has been a new face in the lineup and owns a 10-7 record. He and Dous Karpenschif have been FSU’s most effective doubles team at 14-7 in dual competition. Loris Pourroy, a sophomore, has emerged as one of the ACC’s best players at 14-5 for the season.

The progress was clear with early-season wins over UCF, Mississippi State and NC State. The Seminoles soared into the top 20 of the ITA rankings. Although it hit a rough 3-game stretch in early March, FSU went 5-4 to close the regular season before beating Notre Dame in a 4-3 nail-biter to open the ACC Tournament.

FSU opened the NCAA Tournament with a 4-2 win over Georgia State, but most thought that’s where the season would end. Down 3-1 in Athens to heavily-favored Georgia, the Seminoles persevered and moved on.

With Bryn Nahrung, Arcila and Richard Thongoana as the only seniors, the future is very bright for FSU. Florida State has already exceeded all expectations. As far as the rest of the NCAA Tournament goes, FSU has nothing to lose.

Mike Ferguson is the lead writer for Double Fries No Slaw. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

Mike Ferguson

Mike Ferguson is the lead writer for Double Fries No Slaw and has more than 10 years of experience in online and print journalism. Mike graduated from Florida State University in 2009 and has had his work featured at numerous prominent publications such as Fox Sports, the Associated Press, Athlon Sports, Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated among others. Prior to joining Double Fries No Slaw, Mike was the founder and editor of The Daily Nole. He also serves as the managing editor for Fifth Quarter and is a contributor for Athlon Sports, Fish Stripes and Orlando Pinstriped Post. Mike and his wife Jennifer reside in Haines City, Fla. and have two daughters.