Nov. 17, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Since his arrival at Florida State University in 2000, men’s tennis coach Dwayne Hultquist has been stockpiling some of the nation’s best talent. More importantly, Hultquist has been keeping some of the top player in the Sunshine State at home as of late as is evident in the players he signed to National Letters of Intent for the 2005-06 season.
The Seminoles signed their second state champion in a row in defending 1A title holder Maciek Sykut (Marathon, Fla.). Staying in the Big Bend will be Andrew Bailey (Tallahassee, Fla.), a product of North Florida Christian and Lincoln High Schools.
“The biggest quality that both of them have is that they are great student-athletes,” Hultquist said. “They perform very well in the classroom and they are great players on the court. There are going to improve our team in every facet. We’re very pleased that we could keep two fo the top players in the state of Florida at home.”
Sykut, ranked No. 1 in the nation for the boys 16 and under division, is actually familiar with a current member of the FSU men’s team, rookie Sam Chang (Young-Ming, Taiwan). The two met in the overall finals of the 1A singles championships, but Chang had to default from the tournament. Sykut beat Kurt Zaske of St. John Neumann to win the individual singles title. He also teamed up with Marek Czerwinski to take the overall doubles title and the individual doubles crown.
Since 1999, Sykut has played in 42 tournaments worldwide, with a number of singles and doubles championships. Most recently he played in the US Junior International Hard Court Championships after advancing to the finals of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) stop in Jamaica. During doubles action in Jamaica, he teamed up with Czerwinksi to win the tournament. He started the year by advancing to the second round of the Australian Open Junior Championships where he lost to world number one Gale Monfils.
“Maciek has been a top player in the country at different age groups,” Hultquist noted. “He’s a great athlete and a really hard worker. He’s beaten the top players in the county and we’re expected big things from him. He will be a great college player.”
During 2003, Sykut had his best full season to date, moving up to No. 103 in the ITF rankings. He won four-straight tournaments during the 2003 campaign with titles at the Costa Rican Bowl, Copa Cariari, Bank of Bermuda and Bahamas International tournaments. All told he has reached the semifinals of 24 events since December of 1999 with ten victories.
Being a student-athlete at Florida State is becoming a tradition in the Bailey family. The younger Bailey follows in the footsteps of his father Dan and uncle Don who were members of the Seminole track and field team in the early 80’s.
Over the last two years, Bailey has reached at least the quarterfinals of seven different tournaments. In July of this year, he advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Clay Court Championships with playing part Michael Venus. A month prior, the duo won the doubles title at the Florida Open in Ft. Meyers.
“For the first time in five years we’ve gotten a player out of Tallahassee and that is very important to us,” Hultquist noted of Bailey. “I’ve known Drew for a long time, I used to hit balls with him before he was even in the ninth grade. He’s proven himself as a doubles player, he made the quarterfinals of the National Clay Court Championships.”
Last season he and Nick Meros advanced to the semifinals of the Florida Open with Bailey reaching the quarterfinals in the singles draw. Two months earlier he was a semifinalist at the Gator Bowl in Ponte Vedra, Fla. In 2002, he and Meros teamed up to win the doubles title at the USTA National Open while reaching the final bout in the USTA Tennis Florida Juniors. Baily reached as high as No. 20 in the FTA boys’ 16 and under ratings. A three-year letter winner at NFC, Bailey will play at Lincoln this spring. He played on the 16’s junior intersectional team and was chosen as member of the boys’ 18’s Davis Cup Junior team.
While the two newest members of the Florida State men’s tennis team won’t take the court until the fall of 2005, the current Seminoles are back in action on January 14 when they play the University of Oregon in Hawai’i.