March 16, 2007
When is comes to persistence and hard work, senior Ytai Abougzir is a true contestant. After waiting patiently over a year for approval from compliance to play for head coach Dwayne Hultquist and the Florida State men’s tennis squad, Abougzir has now excelled in to a true leader taking on the pressure of the number one doubles and singles position.
Now a co-captain of the Seminoles, Abougzir has realized that remaining focused in a match is achieved with experience. With over a decade of playing competitive tennis Abougzir finds he appreciates the younger guys looking up to their captains for guidance.
“I think if I was a young guy then I would for sure look to the older guys.” Abougzir said. “Especially the young guys that are coming in now, I think it’s more because they’re use to their parents and to take that away from them, the coaches can do so much so they really have to look to the older people and try to listen to them and their experience.”
Abougzir has chosen to step up as a leader by sharing a captain position with fellow senior Jonathas Sucupira.
“I think the guys really look up to me and you know I try as hard as I can,” Abougzir explained. “If they a problem with anything you know to teach them how it works or like some guys were kind of down after we had a couple bad loses. It goes back and forth, but I like it, you know some people don’t like to have that (role) but I like it and I enjoy it.”
Last weekend the Seminoles traveled on a four match road trip only to return to Tallahassee with a single win over #36 Stanford. All three losses left the Seminoles at the short end of the stick each time with a consistent score of 4-3. Two were ranked ACC losses to #31 Clemson and #52 Georgia Tech with the final loss took place on the west coast to #24 Pepperdine. Florida State fell short in doubles competition over the break, losing ever match the doubles point was not clinched by the Seminoles.
“We haven’t really been losing bad, we’re losing 4-3 with close matches in doubles, close matches in singles,” Abougzir explained. “We’re really there, I think it’s just all experience especially the young guys are doing better and winning there matches and doing what they can. It’s just all about keeping focus late in the year cause’ that’s pretty much all that matters.”
Trying to keep focused after three team losses is hard for a team of majority freshman and sophomores to uphold. But for a driven senior, Abougzir was able to have a successful trip to the west coast earning two ranked victories in the number one singles position over Stanford’s #66 Richard Wire and #24 Andre Begemann of Pepperdine.
“I was pretty happy, and I played really well,” Abougzir said. “The last couple matches I lost in three tight sets and it was with the break these two win and it was good ranked wins too, good opponents. It’s good we got a good win at Stanford, the team lost against Pepperdine, but I felt good with my performance, singles and doubles and ready to take it to the next level right now.”
With the NCAA Tournament only a couple months away, the senior looks back on last year’s successful season and continues to push even further. In 2006 Abougzir was selected to compete in both singles and doubles NCAA tournaments for the first time at Florida State since 1994 with All-American Brian Stanton.
“It was definitely hard last year,” Abougzir described. “I needed one more good win last year before the end of the regular season and I got it here at home against Wake and I kind of feel like it’s the same thing this year too. I just got my two wins this year, but I need a couple more so my goal is still to make all three events: the team round of 16 and singles and doubles also.”
After the 2007 season ends, Abougzir will continue return to the professional circuit after years of experience in the juniors. With the full support of his family behind him, Abougzir realizes he will take each step one day at a time giving it his all.
“I have another year of school so I want to this summer play as much tournaments as I can, professional tournaments and see what happens,” Abougzir explained. “I want to give it one more good shot and I feel like I can just give it all I have and see what happens after that. If it goes good then continue, if no, you know I come back and finish and pursue my other career goals. My whole family supports me one hundred percent with everything I’ve done since I was pretty much a little kid. I think everybody wants me to succeed and if that doesn’t happen you know then move on to the next thing.”