In 1982, Lex Wood became the first player from the Florida State tennis program to be inducted into the FSU Athletic Hall of Fame. He was first a player for the Seminoles from 1961 through the 1963 season, then the program’s head coach from the 1965 through 1969.
When Wood arrived from his native South Africa in 1962, head coach Eddie Cubbon knew he had a leader amongst his new crop of tennis players. For the following three seasons he would become a mainstay among the nation’s top twenty players, playing at No. 1 singles and doubles.
In 1964, his singles match record was 22-1 and his career mark was 51 victories in 54 singles matches. In the course of his Florida State career, Wood defeated many great collegiate players including a former U.S. Davis Cup player, Marty Riessen. As the head coach, his Seminoles went an impressive 89-33 during his tenure. His last two teams in 1968 and 1969 went 19-3 and 23-5 in dual match play, respectively.
A fine student, Wood received his masters and doctoral degrees from FSU in Education. Following his near-decade with FSU, Wood traveled south to the University of Central Florida, where he served as an educator and coach for many more years to follow.
Over six decades of service to Florida State athletics, Don Loucks was inducted to the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1936, Loucks started off his relationship with FSU as the coach of all sports for the University School of Florida State College for Women. He was the “pioneer” of many of the successful athletic programs that currently thrive.
In 1947, he was the first basketball coach for the men’s basketball team and a year later was named the first tennis coach. His hoops team scored the first victory for the newly-formed athletic program. His tennis team was the first to have a winning season, going 9-4.
He served as Dean of Men from 1957 through 1967 and during this time he served as a lead figure in the Seminole athletic program, as well as in the department of education. He retired from the Athletic Department in 1980 as Professor Emeritus of Physical Education. His dedication did not go unnoticed as the Varsity Tennis Courts were renamed in his honor. The Scott Speicher Tennis Center was built around his courts.
His accolades go far beyond the tennis courts, yet Dr. Ray Bellamy’s triumphs at the net still stand out as one of the best as he was inducted into the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. He served as his team’s captain in 1960 and 1961, and during those two years he only lost a total of three matches.
As a model student and athlete during his undergraduate years, 1957 through 1961, Bellamy was involved in many facets of the University that continue to show the benefits of his early presence. He was vice-president of his senior class, a member of the Gold Key honorary society and Omicron Delta Kappa honorary fraternity. In addition, Bellamy was president of the Sigma Chis Fraternity. He then went on to earn a doctorate in medical studies.
After leaving FSU and joining the United States Navy, Bellamy went onto become the All-Navy doubles champion and played on the All-Navy team in 1967 and 1968 while serving as flight surgeon.
After returning to the state of Florida to begin his practice, Bellamy became the state’s 35-and-over singles and doubles champion during the 1970’s.
Paul Haarhuis, the “Dutchman” from Eindhoven, The Netherlands, came to Florida State in 1986 after transferring from Armstrong State College in Savannah, Georgia. He went on to become the best tennis player ever to come out of FSU. His induction into the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993 is a symbol of the university’s appreciation for the positive presence he added to the program during his undergraduate years, 1986 through 1988.
His first two seasons prior to joining the Seminoles went quickly as he garnered a 64-2 overall record, including a 35-0 sophomore season. With the Seminoles, his first season was a true success as he went 35-5 in singles competition and 25-5 in doubles. His biggest feat was claiming the first-ever Men’s Intercollegiate Invitational Tennis Championships held in Panama City.
At one point, he had 24 consecutive wins, including his reign as the Metro Conference Most Valuable Player. He was given this honor by way of winning the number one singles and doubles crowns, including an invitation to the NCAA Championships for doubles.
Once his collegiate career was finished he had a 72-9 overall singles record for his two years and consecutive Metro Conference MVP awards. In the pro’s he still thrives. His list of victories over top-opponents includes John McEnroe and Boris Becker.
Marco Abilhoa, the native of Brazil was one of the great Florida State Seminole tennis players make an impact on the collegiate scene. Prior to enrolling, he was ranked No. 3 in the Brazilian Juniors, when former FSU head coach Randy Jobson discovered him.
A five-year member of the Seminole tennis program from 1980 through 1984, Abilhoa was at the tops of the Metro Conference. He was the No. 1 singles and doubles champion in 1981 and 1982. After dominating for his first two seasons he was then sidelined and redshirted for the 1983 season. Upon his return in 1984, he went straight back to the place where he left off, at the top of the Metro Conference. His dominating presence earned him a record three Metro MVP awards in 1981, 1982, and 1984.
“If Marco can get himself so that he’s pumped and psyched to play, and can keep his mind clear of distractions, there isn’t anyone in the country that he can’t beat,” added Jobson.
Joey Rive, a West Palm Beach native,played for the Seminoles from 1981 through 1985. He was one of the top players ever to compete at Florida State, Rive led the team in wins in 1983, 1984 and 1985. During his period at number one singles, he was nationally ranked among the Top 25 in the nation.
His stellar performance for the Tribe resulted in three Metro Conference singles championships in 1983, 1984 and 1985 and two doubles championships in 1983 and 1985, including the conference’s top crown, the MVP in 1985. His Metro success led to his invitation to the 1985 NCAA tournament and to the 1987 Tennis Magazine Sportsman of the Year award.
Following his FSU career, Rive played the ATP tour where he reached as high as No. 57 in the world in 1988. He returned back to Tallahassee, where he served as an assistant coach from 1993 to 1994. He is currently the head coach at the University of Alabama.
After earning All-American honors at NAIA Huntington College in Montgomery, Ala., Stephen Notebloom, the second “Dutchman” to thrive at Florida State joined the Seminoles for the 1990 through 1992 seasons.
Almost immediately making his presence known, Notebloom grabbed the Metro Conference’s coveted MVP award for winning the title at No. 1 singles and doubles. That same year he earned an invitation to the 1991 NCAA Championships for singles. A feat that has been duplicated by very few Seminoles Notebloom went onto the professional level following graduation.
Brian Stanton of Coral Springs and Ken McKenzie of Tallahassee finished up their playing careers with the Tribe in 1995. As a doubles team the duo ended their final campaign earning collegiate tennis’ top honor, ITA All-America.
The doubles pair received the 1995 award after a superb run in the NCAA Championships. What may be the most impressive feat for them was being ranked among the nation’s top 10 doubles tandems throughout the season.
During his stay at FSU, Stanton won back to back Junior Davis Cup singles titles in 1993 and 1994, won the 1993 Junior Davis Cup in doubles and was named to the All-ACC team his sophomore and junior seasons. He then served as graduate assistant coach in 1996.
McKenzie leaves behind a void in doubles that will be a great challenge to fill. He and Stanton guided No. 1 doubles to an impressive No. 3 national ranking, the highest ranking the program has ever received. He also was also impressive on the singles side earning ACC Flight Championships at No. 2 singles in 1994 and No. 3 singles in 1995.
Jason White recently finished up his four-year run with the Seminoles last season, his best season as a player by far. As the number singles and doubles player, White was charged with a lot of responsibility as the team’s captain.
Even though he won the ACC Championship at No. 4 singles in 1994 and a pair of championships at No. 2 doubles in 1994 and 1995, White was still on top of ACC tennis 1996. The senior from Longwood, who was nationally ranked in singles and doubles for nearly the entire season, went down to the wire and was edged out of the championship at No. 1 singles by just one loss. Not to go unnoticed he received an invitation to the 1996 NCAA Championships in singles.