Sept. 16, 2003
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Even though fall is only a week away, there is still plenty of tennis to be played. After advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, the Florida State University men’s tennis team is hungry for more. The first step in returning to the national summit begins on Thursday (September 18) as FSU hosts the Seminole Fall Classic at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.
Ranked 32nd to end the 2003 season by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Florida State starts head coach Dwayne Hultquist’s fifth season against a good mix of competition. Providing an early test will be Middle Tennessee State, who was ranked 69th at the end of last year, as well as an up-and-coming Nebraska program. Rounding out the four-team event is fellow Tallahassee resident, Florida A&M.
“The biggest thing for us this weekend is that we want to play a lot of matches,” Hultquist said. “We want to get to the point where we can evaluate all the players and find out what they need to improve on during the fall. It also gives our young guys an opportunity to get a feel for what dual matches are like”
The action begins with a pair of teams playing at 5 p.m. on Thursday, while Friday’s 5 p.m. matches and the 9 a.m. start on Saturday will see all four schools in competition. The Seminole Fall Classic concludes on Sunday at 9 a.m. with two squads facing off.
“The three teams coming in are all going to provide us with some good competition,” Hultquist added. “Middle Tennessee has been in and out of the top 25 and has been in the NCAA Tournament recently. Nebraska is an up coming program in the Big 12 and that’s a strong conference. Florida A&M has improved and has a nice team.”
Last season the Seminoles ended a four-year drought when they advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Florida State started with a 4-2 victory over #30 Miami, before falling 4-0 to No. 2 Florida. Within Atlantic Coast Conference action, the Seminoles boasted a 6-2 record as their second place finish was their best in seven seasons. Against ranked opponents FSU held its own, going 8-5 versus the nation’s best.
Leading the charge for the Tribe this year will be junior Mat Cloer (Brevard, N.C.), the 2003 ACC Player of the Year. He starts the 2003-04 season rated 22nd in the preseason ITA rankings after finishing his sophomore year with a 29-12 record and No. 32 spot in the final rankings. Over the summer Cloer improved his skills by competing on the USTA Futures tour. His best showing came at the Ursula Bech Men’s Pro Tennis Classic where he reached the semifinals.
In the doubles competition the Seminoles will be anchored by the sophomore duo of Jeff Groslimond (Atlanta, Ga. / Riverwood) and Chris Westerhof (Durban, South Africa / Crawford College). Even though they only played together for a semester, the duo produced an 18-6 record, including a 7-1 mark against ACC competition. Highlighting the off-season for Groslimond was a doubles victory and second-place singles finish at the ITA’s Summer Circuit stop in North Carolina.
Thursday’s season opener marks the start of the last campaign for a pair of seniors who want to make a big contribution to the team after missing last year. Joe Bassett (Monticello, Fla. / Aucilla Christian Academy) and Jarrod Owen (Vero Beach, Fla.) both had to sit out 2002-03 with injuries and the wait for Bassett dates back to the fall of his sophomore year. Junior Chip Webb (Chattanooga, Tenn. / Naples) will look to build on his 18-16 mark from a year ago.
Fighting for a spot in the line-up this year will be a trio of freshman. Brazilian imports Jonathas Sucupira (Sao Palo, Brazil / Colegio Megga) and Joao Paulo Bounassar (Maringa Parana, Brazil / Colegio Marista) were at the top of the junior national rankings while capturing the Brazilian junior national championship one year after the other. Adding to the Seminoles’ depth will be newcomer Jason Hood (Columbia, S.C.).