Dec. 7, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the first time in school history, the Florida State men’s tennis team will make an appearance with the top teams in the nation at the 2006 USTA/ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships. The 16-team field tournament will take place February 17-20 at the University of Washington’s Nordstrom Tennis Center in Seattle.
The USTA/ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship is the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s longest running event, dating back to 1973.
“We are thrilled,” said FSU Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist, who has developed the men’s tennis team into one of the nation’s best in just seven years. “This is the first time in school history that we will make an appearance at the indoor championships and we are looking forward to facing the best collegiate teams in the country.”
While the ITA has yet to release its 2006 preseason rankings, it is safe to assume that the Seminoles will be ranked among the Top 15 nationally. If this predicament holds true, it will be the highest ever ranking for Florida State entering a new season.
Hultquist said he credits last season’s championship run coupled with his team’s fall performance as a reason for an invitation to compete at the USTA/ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championships.
“I think the fact that we advanced to the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships last season helped,” said Hultquist. “Another factor may have been that we advanced four singles players and two doubles teams pretty deep at the All-American Championships in October. That performance a couple of months ago perhaps showed the committee that last season wasn’t a fluke. I think people have more respect for our program as a whole. ”
Returning to the championships is defending champ Baylor as well as finalist Virginia. The 2005 NCAA champion UCLA was also selected. Rounding out the field are: Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, LSU, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Pepperdine, South Carolina, and host Washington. Two more teams will be determined the weekend of January 21-22 when the ITA Central and Mountain regions have their play-in tournaments.
Next to the SEC, the Atlantic Coast Conference has the most number of representatives that plan to travel to the championships as Duke, FSU and Virginia all made the final cut.
“If you look at how many teams from our conference were selected, it shows how strong the ACC is,” said Hultquist. “Also, we have several teams from our region that will attend, so that just proves how strong the competition is in this part of the country.”
A Look Back At The Spring of 2005
Florida State ended its magical season – which saw it reach the NCAA Sweet 16 and eventually the Elite Eight – for the first time in school history. The Seminoles finished with a 21-8 record. It was the Seminoles’ first 20-win season in two decades.
“I that was the best team in the history of Florida State,” FSU head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “We’re the first team to ever make it to the final site and we had our best finish in the ACC. The SEC had a lot of teams there and so did the Big 12, but the ACC from top to bottom had seven or eight really good teams and established itself as one of the top conferences in the country.”
Florida State finished the season with a final national ranking of No. 13.
The 2005-06 Seminoles
Despite losing its top player, Mat Cloer, to graduation, the Seminoles gave a strong showing during the fall campaign with five returning letterwinners and two newcomers. The returning players include senior Chris Westerhof (Durban, South Africa), juniors Ytai Abougzir (Boca Raton, FL), Jason Hood (Columbia, SC), and Jonathas Sucupira (Sao Paula, Brazil), sophomore Sam Chang (Young-Ming, Taiwan) and freshmen Andrew Bailey (Tallahassee, FL) and Maciek Sykut (Marathon, FL).
The newest member of the team is freshman Chris Cloer (Brevard, NC), who plans to enroll in January and is eligible to compete during the spring season.
Led by head coach Dwayne Hultquist–who in six seasons at FSU has an outstanding winning percentage of .554–Florida State plans to open the 2006 season Jan. 14-15 at the Sherwood Invitational in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Assistant coach Nick Crowell will team up with Hultquist for his third season. –