May 26, 2005
COLLEGE STATION, Texas –
In a season that saw the Florida State University men’s tennis program accomplish feats never been done before, it was only fitting that a former player get in on the action. Perhaps the best player in school history, Paul Haarhuis become the first player in school history to be inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame on Wednesday (May 25).
“Paul is probably the best player we’ve had at Florida State, particularly during his pro career,” FSU head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “He beat everyone he played during his era, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and with his six Grand Slam titles he has to be regarded as one of the best doubles player of all-time.”
While Haarhuis is the first Seminole to be inducted for his playing career, he is not the first Florida State alum to be honored by the Hall. In 2003, Jim Russell – played tennis and baseball for FSU in the late 70’s – was inducted in 2003 as a contributor for his work as the head referee at the NCAA Championship, ACC Tournament and ITA All-American.
During his collegiate career, Haarhuis was the major cog in the FSU men’s tennis machine in the 1980’s that battled South Carolina for supremacy in the Metro Conference. A two-time conference tournament MVP, he led to the Seminoles to the league title in 1988 and earned a berth in the NCAA Singles Tournament that season.
When he finished his Seminole tenure, he ranked second only to Joey Rive with 70 career singles wins, which currently ranks him ninth, while also rating second in doubles wins and third on the combined list. As a senior in 1988 he set the school record by posting a perfect 24-0 record.
“This really fits in with our entire year,” Hultquist noted. “This was a year of firsts for us with our first trip to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. Mat won our first national ITA award and now we have our first player inducted into the Hall of Fame for his play on the court. The banquet was great because we got to recognize the past and the present at the same time.”
As good as he was in college; Haarhuis’ career took off once he made the professional circuit. A year after he left Florida State, he made an international name for himself when he followed up a round of 32 appearance in the French Open by beating John McEnroe in the second round of the US Open on his way to a spot in the final 16.
While Haarhuis was a strong singles player, he will go down as one of the best doubles players in the history of the game. Over his career, he won 54 doubles titles including six Grand Slams and ascended to the number one doubles ranking in the world in 1994 before winning his first US Open title in 1996. He won last Grand Slam event in 2002 when he partnered with Yevgeny Kafelnikov to win the French Open.
Currently, Haarhuis operates a tennis event company in his native Netherlands where he lives with his wife and two children.