May 19, 2005
Tallahassee, Fla. –
By Scott Cunninghmam
Florida State Sports Information
Chip Webb arrived in Tallahassee four years ago in hopes of making an for with the Florida State men’s tennis team. Today, Webb finds himself eleventh all-time at Florida State in career singles wins and tied for tenth in single season winning percentage with Brian Stanton at .800. This senior’s career cannot be described by stats however; his career is a story which, as all of college tennis learned last Sunday, is still being written.
A spot in the NCAA finals in College Station, TX was all but locked up for the Florida Seminoles men’s tennis team this past Sunday as they had taken a one point lead and four first sets in singles against favored No. 11 Kentucky. However, the Wildcats came storming back to take two matches into a third set, needing to win both in order to clinch the regional title. With a trip to the NCAA finals in the balance, Webb (Chattanooga, Tenn.) calmly took the first three games of his third set against Kentucky’s Marcus Sundh.
“Chip is one of those guys that is really good when it gets tight and he’s under pressure,” said head coach Dwayne Hultquist. “I felt good that he was out on the court and looking to clinch it the other day.”
With his teammate Jeff Groslimond (Atlanta, Ga.) fighting back from a third set deficit, Webb knew that his team’s fate could fall solely on his shoulders. The All-ACC selection finished off his opponent 6-3 in the third set to send the Seminoles to the NCAA finals for the first time in school history. Webb won his match Sunday as he has done all season a team best 80 percent of the time. This particular moment however was years in the making.
“That was the best moment I have ever had playing in any form, whether it be junior or college tennis,” Webb said. “Hopefully it is going to get better this weekend but this was just one of those things you wish you had on video.”
Webb’s success at Florida State has not come without obstacles, however. Less than two years ago, Webb was poised to begin his junior spring season with the Seminoles. Then in December of 2003 his father Earl Webb passed away. Chip found it difficult to deal with his loss, both on and off the court.
“Last year was hard. It was really hard coming back,” Webb admitted. “I’m used to my dad watching and it’s tough. Having that happen with my family has made me a lot closer to God. It has made me more thankful for things and I feel blessed.”
In the 2004 spring season, after fighting battles off the court, Webb was able to keep his focus as he opened by winning his first five singles matches and seven of his first nine. The junior completed his season with 14 singles victories to accompany 10 victories on the doubles court.
After overcoming personal obstacles off the court in his junior season, Webb faced obstacles on the court for the beginning of his senior season as he suffered a broken finger while in Hawaii for the Seminoles’ first two matches of the year.
“I’m done with tennis after this year, so that was almost devastating,” said Webb. “In a way, when I look at it now, I couldn’t be any happier because it made me work harder. You can either sit back and dwell on it, or you can actually do something about it.”
“It was kind of hard because it is his senior year,” said Hultquist. “He really worked hard and had a good fall season. ”
Despite the injury, the senior is leading the team in winning percentage at .800 and is currently 9-3 in singles play with a 5-2 mark in ACC play. Webb’s success has not gone unnoticed this year by anyone, including the ACC. By virtue of being his flight champion in the conference tournament, Webb was named as part of the All-ACC conference team three weeks ago.
“That was just awesome,” Webb noted. “I didn’t know I was going to make it. That and clinching the match are my two highlights. They are something I will always be able to look back at and say `I did that and I did that.’ Plus my name will be up on the wall.”
To those surrounding Webb, the performance he gave last Sunday was just another day at the office for the Chattanooga, Tenn., native. Webb’s own feelings about his deciding victory against Kentucky, on the other hand, reflect on his personal battles off of the court.
“It was hard. If there were two people that I wish could have been at the match, they would have been my dad and my girlfriend Brooke.”
Webb, who is adamant that this will be his last year of competitive tennis, hopes to work in finance after graduating from Florida State, and considering the way this Seminole netter performs under pressure, any firm would be crazy not to take him aboard.
“I have an internship with a financial planning firm,” Webb said. “I think I’m going to move to Atlanta over the summer and hopefully get into financial consulting.”
The Seminoles take the courts this Saturday in a rematch with No. 5 Illinois for a spot in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. These two teams are no strangers to one another as Illinois has just barely survived two upset bids by the Seminoles in the last two years. Webb and the Seminoles hope that the third time will be a charm.