Charlottesville, Va.--Junior Thomas Cook capped a thrilling match with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, win at No. 2 singles to lead the No. 62-ranked Georgia State men's tennis team to a 4-3 victory against No. 63 North Florida on Saturday to wrap up play at the ITA Kick-Off Weekend.
The win is GSU's (3-1) first in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event in school history. The Panthers grabbed the doubles point for the fourth-consecutive match this season and No. 54-ranked Victor Valente earned a 6-4, 6-3 win over UNF (0-2) senior Moritz Buerchner, the No. 72-ranked player in the ITA National Singles rankings.
The win was GSU's first against a nationally-ranked opponent this season and its fifth such win since the start of the 2010 season. Georgia State returns home for its next match to face Samford on Sunday, Feb. 3 at the Peachtree City Tennis Center (1:30 p.m.).
"Winning the doubles point was huge and we played with a lot of energy to make sure we got that early lead," first-year head coach Joerg Barthel said, "When you lose a match it's important to come back strong in the next match and I think we did that today. Good teams handle adversity well and I thought we did that today."
Valente paired with senior Lucas Santa Ana at No. 2 doubles for an 8-5 victory to clinch the doubles point for Georgia State. Also winning a doubles match were junior Robert Schulze and sophomore Sofiane Chevallier, an 8-4 triumph at No.3 doubles.
Schulze kicked-off singles play with an efficient 6-0, 6-2, win at No. 5 singles against UNF's Pedro Davisson. UNF then won three of the next four singles matches excluding Valente's victory at No. 1 singles to set up the match-clinching showdown at No. 2 singles. With all matches completed, Cook entered his third set after coming from behind to win the second set. He finished off the victory with a 6-3 win in the final set.
"Give a lot of credit to North Florida because this match could've gone either way during singles," Barthel said, "We did a much better job today as opposed to yesterday of finishing strong and finishing off sets. Thomas played outstanding when he was the only one out there and overall it was a great team effort."
Valente's victory was his third over a nationally-ranked singles opponent during the 2012-13 season. He defeated two ranked opponents in the Fall 2012 season on the way to finishing as the runner up at the ITA Southeast Regional.
Georgia State and North Florida are scheduled to meet again on Monday, Mar. 18 at the Blackburn Tennis Center this season (10 a.m.). Visit the men's tennis page on GeorgiaStateSports.com late this week for a preview of GSU's next match against Samford.