Florida State’s men’s tennis team is preparing for the start of their 2021 season, and we spoke with Head Coach Dwayne Hultquist to go over what that entails. From key athletes to new goals to Coronavirus precautions – we covered it all.
As this is a fresh season and one that comes with almost a year break due to the global pandemic, Hultquist mentioned he and the team have discussed a few milestones they hope to accomplish. He said, “Obviously making the NCAA tournament is always the hope for our team, playing our matches strong this spring, and winning those home games.” The ‘Noles have 25 total matches with 14 of those being home games at FSU’s Speicher Tennis Center.
Along with those goals, Hultquist had a positive outlook when it came to the ACC and this season’s rankings. He reiterated how crucial it is going to be to win those home matches and added the fact that FSU has had consistently high winning percentages throughout the past few seasons. With regards to the ACC, Hultquist stated, “The ACC is one of the best conferences in the country and many of those ACC teams do make the NCAA tournament, so we’ve got to stay on top of it.”
But with that, the team is going to take it one match at a time. This Sunday, Florida State is hosting their season opener against UNF, a team that was ranked last year. Hultquist said this will be a “good first opening, tough match to start out the season.” He added that the ‘Noles will use their strong depth this weekend and will allow for the top nine team members to play against a hard-hitting team.
Hultquist mentioned a huge blessing to come out of the NCAA rulings surrounding the spring cancellation in 2020 was that three of his top players, Marcus Walters, Alex Knaff, and Rana-Roop Singh Bhullar, were able to come back for a final season. That strong stems from the “solid leadership and guidance” provided by these student-athletes. And while they will be getting a lot of playing time, especially this weekend against UNF, Hultquist also noted many of his athletes are going to be key in securing season wins. He named Chase Wood, Sebastian Arcila, Enzo Le Seguillon, and Juan Martin Jalif when discussing leadership, but ultimately gave credit to the entire team for being strong and cohesive.
Despite the long offseason due to the Coronavirus, he assured that the team is excited and ready to get back out on the court. Hultquist added, “during this break, we are working on building and regaining our strength.” Of course, he anticipates some cancellations or schedule changes in response to COVID-19 but is glad that tennis is a naturally socially distanced sport. He was also proud of how responsible the team has been in handling the virus, playing in individual matches, and working hard throughout this past year.