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College Spotlight: Coach Dwayne Hultquist, Florida State

February 6, 2014 10:45 AM
Florida State men's head coach Dwayne Hultquist began coaching the Seminoles in 2000.
Hultquist has more wins than any other coach in Seminoles' history, with 229.

By Sally Milano, USTA.com

At the helm of Florida State men's tennis for 15 years, Dwayne Hultquist has turned the Seminoles into one of the top programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the nation. His 229 career wins are a school record, and he has led his team to 11 straight trips to the NCAA Championships.

Originally from State College, Pa., and a graduate of Penn State in 1986, Hultquist began his collegiate coaching career in 1991, when he accepted a graduate assistant position at the University of Kentucky. The following year, he joined the University of Texas as an assistant coach for eight years before taking over as head coach at Florida State in 2000.

Hultquist has had great success both on and off the court in Tallahassee. In 2013, he was honored as the recipient of the prestigious USTA/ITA National Campus & Community Outreach Award, given to one men's and one women's college coach for providing a leadership role in increasing tennis participation throughout his or her community. Hultquist brought his program to the forefront of 10 and Under Tennis initiatives by hosting events during Florida State’s matches, running several after-school programs for kids as part of its Seminole High Performance Tennis programs, and working with 500 students from Robert's Elementary School in an event with the Florida State University tennis team.

Hultquist, whose team will be competing this weekend in the first College MatchDay event of the 2014 season, recently answered questions for USTA.com in the latest USTA.com College Spotlight.

USTA.com: You played your college tennis at Penn State. What are some of your best memories from your time there?

Coach Hultquist: I think the traveling with the team. One of the guys who is in charge of this USTA College Matchday, (USTA Director of Market Development and College Tennis) Virgil Christian, he was one of my best friends in college, and the friendships that we made there were great. You know, going through the tough times. We also played a lot of matches in those days. Once, over spring break, we played 13 matches in 13 days, so it was a different era in how you did things back then. But just traveling together and being together were great experiences.

USTA.com: What did you learn from your college tennis experience? How has it shaped your coaching philosophy?

Coach Hultquist: I was a walk-on at Penn State. I was the last guy on my team my freshman year. I worked up to be a starter, so to me it was a lot of hard work involved. You can achieve goals if you want to. You've just got to put in the effort.

USTA.com: How has college coaching changed in the last five years?

Coach Hultquist: I think the No. 1 thing is that there are a lot more good teams. There are a lot more good coaches. You are recruiting the world, so there are a lot more good players. You don’t know who these people are. For instance, Oklahoma State beat Tennessee this last weekend. Oklahoma State was No. 50 and Tennessee was Top 10, so it’s very competitive. And I think we really raised what we do professionally as far as how the matches are covered, and I think I’ll see more attendance coming along in the future.

USTA.com: Who have been the biggest influences in your tennis career?

Coach Hultquist: As a coach, it was probably during my time as a coach at the University of Texas, [when I spent] eight years with Coach (Dave) Snyder. As a player, there were a lot of people, from college coaches to some of the older guys that I played with in college who helped me.

USTA.com: When did you decide you wanted to be a tennis coach? Or did you always know it's what you wanted to do?

Coach Hultquist: It probably was a year or two after college. I grew up in a college town, so I kind of felt like I wanted to be in a college environment, as opposed to coaching junior players or professional players. I really wanted to kind of focus on being at a university.

USTA.com: What is your favorite part of coaching at the college level? The most challenging part?

Coach Hultquist: I think it’s kind of the interaction with all the sports that you’re following. You’re following the football team, and you are excited about them winning a national title. You are around people who are Olympians and people who are at the top of their sport, and I think that it is fun being in that environment. As far as the challenging part, I think one thing is we are kind of limited in how much we can practice. We are limited to 20 hours, and there are certain times you can’t practice as much, so I think that limitation is a key factor.

USTA.com: What are your thoughts on the USTA’s new College MatchDay series?

Coach Hultquist: I think it’s great. I think there are a few kinks that need to be worked out, and we can make changes from it, but I’m definitely for it. I think we need to move forward to get on TV. The ACC is going to have a network in a few years, and we need to make sure that tennis is a part of that factor.

USTA.com: Do you get more nervous now coaching, or was it worse when you were playing?

Coach Hultquist: I think it’s probably harder on the coaching side. I can’t hit a ball for my players, and you’re not in control of that part of it. As a player, once you get going in a match, you are settled into it.

USTA.com: What do you see as the biggest challenges players face when they arrive on campus?

Coach Hultquist: I think getting used to the speed of which their lives run. School, study hall, practice, strength and conditioning – they are not used to that. They’re not used to practicing as hard as they do, so we have to condense it into a smaller window.

USTA.com: Any advice for current players who want to go into college coaching?

Coach Hultquist: I think it took a long time for me. I was a volunteer coach, and then I was an assistant coach for eight years. So my advice is you have to put in time to get the opportunities, and it’s not something that just happens overnight.



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