Written by Anca Dumitrescu
April 2, 2004
Tallahassee, FL – Seldom has a team dominated the rankings for the best academic performance like the women’s tennis team at Florida State University. For the past seven years, the Lady Noles have been awarded the Golden Torch Award for the highest grade point average among Florida State’s athletic teams and have posted a 3.686 GPA for the second consecutive year. During each of these years, the Seminoles earned a team average that ranges between 3.4 and 3.8. On the conference level, the Tribe has led the ACC, one of the most prestigiously academic leagues in the nation, for seven straight years. The Noles have ended each year with a grade point average far above the average of other universities in and out of the conference. The women’s tennis team is an example of high academic performance and sets the standard for academics and athletics not only in intercollegiate tennis but all sports across the board.
While setting an example of excellence in the classroom, the Lady Noles have also had success on the tennis court where they are feared for their feistiness and their willingness to fight up to the last point.
What makes this team so successful is its leader, head coach Lise Gregory. A seven-time All-American and a graduate from the University of Miami, Gregory’s previous coaching experience, as well as her deep knowledge of the game polished while playing on the professional tennis circuit, has made a radical impact on the Florida State women’s program. Something Gregory and her staff expect from her student-athletes every day is simple – effort. “I do not expect you to win day in day out, but I do expect you to try your very best,” is a motto Gregory is known for using to motivate her players on the court, in the classroom and in life.
The Seminoles have lived up to this expectation by producing results. FSU qualified for seven consecutive NCAA tournaments during the past 10 years, six during Gregory’s tenure. The team has ranked consistently among the top 50 teams in the nation reaching as high as No. 19.
For the 2003-04 season, the Tribe looks to set a new standard in terms of athletic and academic performance. The team brings three new players to the lineup. Freshman Roxanne Clarke is a talented freshman from South Africa that has already proven her potential and ambition on and off the court during the fall term and will look to have an immediate impact in how well FSU fairs this season. Senior transfer Nicole Cercone is an experienced student-athlete from Seton Hall who boasts a 4.0 GPA. Lindsay Deason rounds out the newcomers’ class. The sophomore transfer from University of Southern California finished the previous year with a 4.0 grade point average in the classroom and will contribute to the lineup on the court this season.
Returning from a lineup that posted a 13-10 overall record are three seniors, two juniors and two sophomores who have experience playing on the court and together as a team. Last season, four players achieved grade point averages higher than 3.5. Mihaela Moldovan, reigning NCAA South Region Rookie of the Year was the Golden Torch recipient for 2003. With a perfect 4.0 GPA and a 20-4 singles record, Moldovan is one of Florida State’s leaders for academic and athletic excellence. Anca Dumitrescu, gearing up for her final season in the garnet and gold, has led the team in the previous two years and is looking at another chance to carve her name in the Seminole record books. Dumitrescu, the 2002 Golden Torch Award recipient with a 3.96 GPA, reached the semifinals of the ITA South Region Fall Championships and two weeks later won the Lady Seminole Fall Classic. Senior Christina Denny, who won the second draw at the 2003 Lady Seminole Classic, has constantly maintained a GPA above 3.5 during her three years at Florida State. Alina Mihailescu, a sophomore from Romania, concluded the fall semester with another 4.0.
Commitment and a strong work ethic are required to achieve high academic and athletic performances. The Florida State women’s tennis team has prided its program on balancing both at the highest level. What makes this team special is its ability to pursue those values with consistency and discipline. The Seminoles spend their time studying to alleviate missed classes and get the most of their education.
While a great deal of time is dedicated to studying and practicing, the Tribe balances laughter, comradery and togetherness to make their experience in Tallahassee valuable. What distinguishes the Noles is their ability to combine relaxing and entertainment with schoolwork and it is their perfect combination of these two activities that makes them successful.
In the upcoming 2003-04 season, the Florida State women’s tennis team looks at another successful season on the tennis court as well as in the class room. Moreover, this year the players are more determined than ever to set even higher performance standards in tennis and in education. If they continue to work with the effort and commitment they have proven so far, they will more than likely succeed.