Jan. 21, 2005
by Scott Cunningham
Florida State Sports Information
When Jonathas Sucupira, the 2001 Brazilian Junior National Tournament champion, arrived in Tallahassee in 2003, nobody bothered to tell him he was a freshman, because he simply did not play like one. Sucupira shot his way up to No. 51 in the ITA collegiate tennis rankings after posting a nine-match winning streak in the middle of the 2004 spring season. Tremendous talent, however, was not the only thing that the young player brought with him to Tallahassee. Sucupira was well known throughout his freshman year for bringing an extra sense of excitement and enthusiasm, something that can draw a crowd into a match.
“I’m really fired up on the courts and I think that helps (the team),” Sucupira said. “I think it helps the energy.”
“He’s very energetic, so he gets pumped up, but he doesn’t get down,” added head coach Dwayne Hultquist. “It’s a unique thing. A lot of people get pumped and then they hit the bottom. When he plays, he plays with a lot of energy and he gets pumped up, yet he doesn’t get down when he loses a point.”
Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Sucupira suffered a shoulder injury, causing him to miss three dual matches near the end of the regular season. Refusing to be kept on the sidelines for too long, the Brazilian returned for the first round of the NCAA tournament to defeat Whi Kim of Arizona in three sets. Highlighting his first year with the Seminoles was a 12-5 mark at the No. 2 spot, wins over two top 10 players, and an All-ACC selection, an honor not received by a Florida State freshman since Ken McKenzie more than a decade ago.
When asked to about being named to the All-ACC team as a freshman, Sucupira simply stated, “It doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m happy that I helped the team.”
Hultquist commented on the play of the freshman, “I think he surely exceeded our expectations.”
In a match against Oregon on January 15th of this year, Sucupira was called upon to play in the no. 6 spot in place of the injured Chip Webb. Still in rehabilitation of his own injury, Sucupira defeated his opponent by a count of 7-6, 6-4, and also helped the Seminoles win the doubles point when he and freshman Sam Chang teamed up to win their match 8-4.
“It was my first match since May and I thought I played well. I didn’t play great, but it was a beginning,” Sucupira said.
Sucupira started the 2004-05 campaign as the nation’s No. 55 player while still in rehabilitation of his shoulder injury. Hurt or not, the sophomore plans to work his way back up to 100 percent so that he may join the Seminoles in what should be another exciting and successful season.
“It’s been tough,” said Sucupira. “I was playing well, and then my shoulder started hurting, so I’ve had to work a lot and go through a lot of rehab, but I’m glad to be back now. I’m not at 100 percent now, but I’m getting there.”
The Seminoles play host to Jacksonville on Saturday, January 22nd at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center at 1 P.M.