Sept. 23, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the 2009-10 Florida State women’s tennis season starting Friday, September 25, head coach Jennifer Hyde alongside associate head coach Oliver Foreman give you a detailed look at what to expect from the Seminoles in the season outlook.
Season Outlook With Head Coach Jennifer Hyde:
You led the team to the third round of the ACC Championships last season for just the third time in program history. What will it take for the 2009-10 team to have the same success in the conference championships?
I think we are at the point now where making it to the third round of the ACC Championships (the semifinals) is just not good enough. There’s not one person on this team who doesn’t dream of having an ACC Conference Championship ring on their finger. Regardless of who wins the ACC Title each year, it’s never an easy route to get there and you really have to play your best tennis at the end of the season for that to happen. We are looking to go beyond what we’ve done in the ACC Tournament these last few years, especially with the new additions to our roster this season, along with the maturity of our upperclassman-heavy team. This team has the potential to be the best to ever play at FSU, and it will be a thrill to watch the process and growth this season.
What are the team goals this season?
The team goals include an ACC Championship, hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championships and an Elite 8 appearance in the NCAA Championships. Individually, we have 4 players ranked inside of the top 100 right now, more than any other team in the ACC. Our goal is to have a few more of our players in the rankings this year. If we can make that happen, it would greatly affect our ability to have an ACC Conference and NCAA Championship contending team.
Who will your team look to for leadership and what are you expectations of these leaders?
Very quickly our two freshmen, Francesca and Amy, have already stepped up into leadership roles. They are extremely vocal, driven and passionate about their work and the work that the team puts in on a daily basis. They have already found their voices in such a short time at FSU, and that kind of leadership from the youth on our team will only make us better. We have five upperclassman that will also provide great leadership for our program. This team has a very narrow vision towards what they want to accomplish. They have a very professional approach to their entire college experience, and they do not waste one day of work. Everyone is on the same page with regards to where we are heading this season, and each player realizes how crucial it is that they do their part to keep this team as strong as we can be. I expect leadership to come from different people at different times, and I know there is not one person on this team who isn’t capable of providing that during this season.
You have guided the team that past three years to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.What coaching tactics will you use this season in order to lead your team to another post season?
At the end of the day, it’s all about the girls getting out there and battling their way through matches. I think the fact that we have been so close to making it to the Sweet 16 and falling short will really help us in the long run as we strive to get back to that point again this year. The feeling you have after a close loss in the second round of the NCAA’s is not something that fades quickly, and that feeling will remain a constant reminder for these young ladies. They know that this team is more talented and deeper than any team that has represented FSU for many years, and having that belief up and down the lineup is crucial as we make our way into ACC and NCAA play in the spring.
Talk some about the 2009-10 team…their strengths and also some things you want to better this season.
One of the biggest strengths on this year’s team has to be balance and chemistry. Every year the team environment is very positive and very good to be a part of, but this year is especially unique. In a very short period of time, these young ladies have really meshed. This process usually takes some time, but this year, for whatever reason, is different. They are very level headed girls, and they really seem to want to get after things. I continue to be proud of the teams that we have produced, and this team is no different. I’m actually more excited than ever to see how far we can go.
One thing I know we will improve upon from last year is our doubles success. We were able to win some very big matches last year without winning the doubles point. That takes its toll on girls over time, and we have already seen great improvements in this area. That doubles point is crucial come dual-match time, and we will spend a great deal of time in the fall focusing on our doubles combinations and strategy.
How will this year’s schedule prepare you for the post season?
Each year our schedule is among one of the most difficult schedules in the country. This is a byproduct of being in the ACC (the strongest tennis conference in the nation), along with the other teams which we include on our schedule regionally and nationally. We will make two trips out west this season to face some very good competition in California with Fresno State and Pepperdine. We will play Northwestern University up in Chicago, who has spent the better part of the last two seasons ranked No.1 in the nation. We always look forward to our rivalry with Florida, who we beat last year for the first time in program history. It’s important that we play a very tough schedule throughout the season to make sure we get to see some of the best teams in the country. This is the best way to prepare for post-season play and the ACC and NCAA Championships.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the strongest conferences in the country. How is it playing in such an elite league?
WE love being a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. It is by far and large the strongest and deepest tennis conference in the country, and having a built in schedule with so much depth only makes our program better. There are no easy matches, home or away, and you really have to be on your game each time you step on court for competition in this league. That makes each player better on our team and in the league as well. It’s such a great reward for the hard work these young ladies put in. Being able to play with and against the best players in the nation is one of the great things about college tennis and playing in the ACC. Talk about the two incoming freshmen and what to expect from them. Francesca Segarelli and Amy Sargeant have already had a wonderful impact on this team. They both are natural leaders who have easily transitioned in to college tennis and in to the college life. They will help to provide a tremendous amount of depth on the team this season, and are already challenging their teammates and making this team better. I couldn’t ask for more from a freshman class. They love FSU, they love the team and being a part of something so special, and I look forward to continuing to watch their growth in their freshman campaigns. They both have the potential to be impact players for us.
Season Outlook With Associate Head Coach Oliver Foreman:
Last season you were promoted to associate head coach and were named the ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year. With this new title comes more responsibility. What do you look to accomplish in the 2009-10 season?
I feel extremely honored to receive those accolades. Ever since I stepped on campus here at Florida State back in the fall of 2005 those were some of the few goals I had set for myself, and in achieving those goals I was inevitably helping the team out achieving their goals. My priorities will remain the same and that is to the team and to Florida State. Jennifer and I have built an incredible program with some amazing student-athletes and I believe we still have so much to improve upon. Each year we are getting better, but at the elite level we are at now so too are the few programs that lie ahead of us. It comes down to those little details that when added up will be the difference in being number one or being number 15. I see a National Championship on the horizon for the FSU Women’s Tennis Team and I will continue to give as much as I possibly can to make that happen and finally make it a reality.
Talk about the teams leaders?
This year we have a more mature team and an older more experienced team. We are now in a position where I think a few of the younger girls from last year have seen the importance of leadership in a team, holding each other accountable for their decisions, and making good choices. Learning from last year will give them an opportunity to step up into a more significant role and take this team to a whole new level. I don’t think there is one individual in particular I can choose from because the group of student-athletes we now have in this program are starting to understand what it takes to be the very best. Everyone on this team has a voice and I want them to be heard and make this team their own.
With the tough schedule that lies ahead for the Seminoles, how will it prepare the team for another post season appearance?
From a coaches’ standpoint all we can do is to continue to find ways to improve our players as individuals and as a team on the court. I think after what we accomplished last season the belief is we can achieve more success and we should. Playing in the ACC (the toughest conference in the nation) allows us to compete against the very best players and teams in the country every week, and gives us every opportunity to become National Champions. Our focus has to be on consistently performing every week, because at this level you can’t afford to drift off and expect to outperform opponents of this caliber. In essence on any given day, life can be rough out on the court, but those that find the way to win and fight through adversity will in the end find success, or even success will find them.
What will it take this year to keep the Florida State women’s tennis program among the nation’s elite?
As a team I have always felt we compete very hard, and we as coaches have made that priority number one. When you step foot on the court and walk through those gates, the only thing that matters is out competing your opponent and finding a way to get the job done no matter how good or how bad it is out there; you scratch and claw your way to get the win. We have certainly proven over the past couple of years that we have done exactly that. I have stressed the importance of this characteristic as an athlete and that it breeds winners. It’s a positive energy that runs through from player to player and the more you see it the more becomes second nature.
I think as individuals we need to focus on continuing to learn from every match we play, whether we win convincingly or lose ugly. We can always learn from a performance. Try to do a better job of identifying the things that went right and the things that went wrong and adapting. Having that philosophy that no matter how a match goes, you can always get better will inevitably lead to further success.
Alongside Coach Hyde, you led the women to a back-to-back third round appearance in the ACC Championships and a second-round NCAA Tournament appearance. What will it take for the team to have the same success this season?
Each year we have achieved more success than the previous years. Our team is now deeper than it ever has been before, and that is evident from the four players we currently have ranked in the pre-season polls. In my opinion we could easily have six players ranked by the time the spring season rolls around. We lead the ACC with most players ranked this year in the pre-season rankings and probably join only a few teams with the most ranked players in the country. Our freshmen have added a whole new dimension to our team allowing us to be more flexible with our line-up, and added a higher level of competitiveness during practices which will toughen us for our dual matches in the spring. I don’t think the team is interested in the same success as last year; they want to improve upon that. They want to continue to add to the history breaking at FSU. The fact that we are another year older and a more mature team I honestly believe this may very well be the most successful women’s tennis team in Florida State history.