May 26, 2005
COLLEGE STATION, Texas –
With all that Florida State University senior Mat Cloer has done to raise the level of the men’s tennis program on the court, it may be his contributions away from the game that have had the biggest impact. Wednesday night he earned the highest honor of his career and became the first Seminole men’s tennis player to earn a national award when he was given the Intercollegiate Tennis Association/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.
The Arthur Ashe Award goes to goes to a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. Cloer, who won the Mideast Region Award in order to qualify for the national honor, was chosen over candidates from seven other regions.
“During his four years Mat has been a great ambassador for Florida State,” FSU head coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “He handles himself really well off the court, he’s great at meeting people and relating too them. A lot of people follow our program, partly because of Mat. During my six years he’s the best player we’ve had here and in the history of the program Paul Haarhuis and Mat are probably the top two.”
Throughout his four years at Florida State, Cloer has volunteered over 100 hours of community service with more than 40 just in the fall semester. Much his volunteer hours have been with the Tallahassee chapter of the USTA, participating in clinics for their Special Olympics, “First Serve”, and home school programs. Cloer has also volunteered for hurricane victim relief and spoken as school assemblies. This semester was a strong one for him in the classroom as he posted a 3.4 grade point average.
“I was very surprised, there were a lot of deserving candidates,” Cloer said. “This is a very special award and I’m very grateful. This means a little more because it encompasses every aspect of being a collegiate tennis player. I put everything I had into this team and tried to lead by example and be a role model.”
On the court he has established himself as one of the best players in Florida State and Atlantic Coast Conference history. A two-time ACC Player of the Year, last month he earned his third All-ACC honor. Currently he ranks fourth in school history with his 83 singles wins, while his 152 combined wins is fifth and the 69 doubles triumphs he has amassed are eighth.
Serving as team captain this year; Cloer led the Seminoles to their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight last weekend in College Station, Texas. The 26th-ranked player in the country beat Illinois’ No. 23 GD Jones 7-5 in the third-set tiebreaker to clinch the 4-2 win over the No. 5 Illini in the Sweet 16.
“This is a great award for someone who’s accomplished a lot on the court but is also respected nationally for how he handles himself and his leadership abilities,” Hultquist added. “Tennis has been regarded as having a high level of sportsmanship and Arthur Ashe is certainly the most prominent so it’s only fitting that this award honors him.”
Winning the Arthur Ashe Award will have some perks for Cloer during the summer as he will be honored again, along with all the ITA award winners, in New York City. As the recipient of the national award he’s invited to the Collegiate All-Star Outing and Awards Luncheon at West Side Tennis Club in Central Park on August 26 before the US Open.