As Dwayne Hultquist enters his third season as the head coach of the Florida State men’s tennis team, his optimism for the program continues to grow. Florida State is entering the 2001-02 season ranked 59th in the country and fifth in the ACC. This season, the Seminoles are more motivated than ever to prove they have what it takes to succeed and make it to the NCAA Tournament.
The 2001-02 Seminoles are heading into a season filled with promise. Florida State returns four seniors, one junior, five sophomores and welcomes two freshmen to the program this season. With an amazing pool of talent returning, the 2001-02 season looks to be one filled with excitement for the Seminoles.
“Last year’s team was better than the year before and we want to be a better team than we were last year. All of our top eight are returning and we are adding Chip Webb who was ranked as a top 15 player in the nation. Last season we had three freshmen in the starting line-up. Given the fact that they have now played a year of college tennis last years experience is going to make us a lot better for this year, plus I think some of the guys have worked really hard this summer. We should definitely push to be one of the better teams this year. Obviously we would like to make the NCAA Tournament and see how far we can go with that.”
Team leader, Xavier Luscan, enters his senior season with 51 career singles and doubles wins. He finished his junior campaign winning seven of eight matches against ACC opponents while being named to the 2001 All-ACC Men’s tennis team.
“Xavier is probably the first thing you would look at when it comes to strengths. Being a two-time All ACC selection, he will probably be a top 30 or 40 player in the country. He is definitely a key to our strength. I think we have a lot of good players. We are looking for certain players to emerge, but whoever plays No. 6 is going to be very good and we probably have more good players than almost any team in the country.”
Joining Luscan in a quest for the NCAA Tournament are seniors, Bartosz Koldej, Gustav Bucht and Jeff Scarella. Koldej made an immediate impact in doubles competition going on a four-match winning streak with teammate Xavier Luscan where the two took wins over ACC opponents Clemson, Maryland and UNC. Bucht opened up his first spring season with the Seminoles on a four match winning streak with teammate Alex Herrera while playing primarily at the No. 2 position in singles action. Four-year standout Scarella finished his junior season with a winning record of 14-12 going on an eight match winning streak during the spring season and winning four matches at the No. 5 position and three at No. 6.
Rodrigo Laub stands as the Seminoles lone junior on the 2001 squad. He completed last season as one of five Seminoles to finish with a winning record of 15-11. Laub would see three, three match win streaks in spring action while going undefeated at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.
With one year of experience behind them, Florida State sophomores Jarrod Owen, Alex Herrera, Reid McCree and Romain Jurd are sure to build on their impressive performances from 2000 to be strong contributors this season.
Owen began his spring season on a four-match win streak including a win against Florida’s Matt Behrmann. Owen played primarily at the No. 3, 4 and 5 positions finishing his freshman campaign with a record of 16-16. Herrera started his freshman spring season playing at the No. 1 position while Luscan was injured. Herrera went 1-0 at the No. 2 position and 2-2 at the No. 4 position. He is an outstanding athlete with a variety of abilities and should be a key contributor to the team. Romain made an immediate impact on the 2000 squad while winning his first four matches as a Seminole and advancing to the doubles finals round of the Seminole Classic with teammate Owen.
Hultquist brings two newcomers to the program this year in freshmen Chip Webb and Brad Kolowich. After distinguished careers in high school, these rookies will look to build on the success of those before them. The Seminoles currently remain undefeated against Southern Mississippi (10-0), Central Florida (7-0), Florida Atlantic (7-0), Florida A&M (5-0) and New Mexico (2-0).
“Chip is going to have an immediate impact, to what level I am unsure, but he will have a big impact on this years team,” said Hultquist. “He has beaten a lot of top ranked contenders, those who are professional and top college players. He may take a little time to adjust coming off of an injury and some personal things but we expect nothing but great things to come out of Chip.”
This year’s schedule will consist of two teams ranked in the top 15 at the end of last year in ACC rival Duke and the University of Miami, with nine others ranked in the top 50. The men’s team will start off the fall at the Southern Intercollegiates in Georgia Spetember 21st-23rd, following the intercollegiates tourney the team will head to Stone Mountain Georgia for the ITA All-American tournament before heading back home. On October 19th-21st, the team will host their annual Seminole Fall Classic.
“We would like to have our guys show that they can play on the national level and get into the rankings to give them confidence and show them where they stand nationally,” said Hultquist. “What I am really looking for this fall is someone other than Xavier to kind of breakthrough and show that they are at that same level. The fall is really going to show who is going to stack up and play at the two, three and four positions.”
The team will complete this fall at the Rolex Regional in Chapel Hill, N.C. October 23rd-28th before Spring action begins.
“We have the kind of schedule I like, where we are playing more at home than away,” said Hultquist. “The ACC this year is going to be stronger than probably the past two years. Duke will probably not be quite as strong as they have been in the past. They lost a lot of key players this year to graduation. They will still be very good and probably still be the team to beat. Georgia Tech is also very good, along with Wake Forest and North Carolina. I sense that it will be an even better conference than it was last year.”
January will set the stage for the Seminoles spring dual match season as they begin at the ACC Indoor Championships, and then return home to host the Seminole Team Tournament, before hosting Furman. The men’s team will stay close to home this year playing 12 of 20 dual matches at the friendly confines of the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.
“There are some things we are trying to build outside, we had a lot of community spirit and involvement and we would like to continue that, we would like to see more people coming out to our matches, keep building on the attendance each year,” said Hultquist.
The final month of action for the Seinoles will be packed with ACC matches for the ‘Noles. The team will first face North Carolina at home on April 6th, then travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech, and finish at home with the last match of the season vs. Duke on April 14th.
The 2001 season promises to be exciting as usual in Tallahassee with two home tournaments as well as the third year of hosting the USTA Challanger. Hultquist will rely on the leadership of his returners to guide this squad to a winning season.