Launch into Leadership

Georgia State tennis hires former player Sebastian Acuna

April 21, 2018 - Peachtree City, Ga: Sun Belt Conference Tennis Tournament at the Peachtree City Tennis Center Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Peachtree City, Ga. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Former tennis star and now graduate assistant Sebastian Acuna is back on the Georgia State tennis courts this year, this time as a member of the men’s staff. Acuna was one of the motors that helped propel the team to a second place finish in last year’s Sun Belt Conference tournament.

The Miami native enjoyed a successful career as both a player and a student. He received All-Conference Second Team honors for doubles in 2016 and for singles and doubles in 2018. He also earned Sun Belt All-Academic honors for his senior year.

Head coach Jonathan Wolff had to pick a new member of the team when the assistant coach position turned into an unpaid graduate assistant position. Luckily, it didn’t take long for him to find the right man for the job.

“I immediately had a rough idea of the demographic I wanted to target,” Wolff said. “Someone who recently graduated from a top program looking to obtain a masters degree as well as an individual who could compete and [who played] at the highest level of collegiate competition.”

Acuna couldn’t contain his excitement when he learned that he got the position.

“I had to run back to the car before walking into the store to let out a huge yell after I got off the phone with Jonathan. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic when I received the good news.”

Acuna spent his entire college career playing for Georgia State tennis and has already played alongside seven of the 10 players on this year’s roster. His experience with the team certainly works in his favor and has helped him quickly mesh into the new role.

“After playing at Georgia State for four years, I believe I have a good sense of what affects the team internally and externally,” Acuna said. “I’ve been with the team in its highs and lows and I’ve built strong chemistry with my former teammates, being able to speak to them on just about anything which creates a good bridge between the coaching staff and the players.”

His love for his teammates is easy to see, and the chance to continue helping them grow and develop was not an opportunity he took lightly.

“It truly means a lot to me,” Acuna added. “I have great respect for my former teammates and know what they can potentially achieve, giving their best effort. I’m physically and emotionally invested in the process of development in this team and I see this as an opportunity to do everything I can to improve the program that I’ve been a part of and worked so hard in.”

Acuna undoubtedly has worked hard to help the team be successful over the past few years. He had an integral role in helping the men’s tennis team win a Sun Belt Conference championship in the 2016-17 season and finish second in the 2018 conference tournament. Acuna finished with a doubles win against Troy in the semifinals of last season’s conference tournament to help advance the Panthers to the finals.

Acuna has won 10 or more singles matches in three of his four years at Georgia State. His highest single-season mark was when he notched 16 singles wins in the 2017 spring season.

He went 9-6 in doubles play as a senior, mostly accompanied by Andrei Duarte. His former doubles partner was excited to see his old teammate coming back to help the team.

“It’s awesome to have Seb back out there,” Duarte said. “He has been a leader since day 1 and someone that I’ve looked up to for a while now so having him back out there is definitely something I’m looking forward to this year. Although I wish he were still playing next to me, having him on the bench is going to be very beneficial for me.”

The sophomore added that Acuna’s playing experience gives him a respect from the team that sets him apart from other candidates.

“Being a former player gives him a whole other dimension now that he’s back with the team,” Duarte said. “Having someone who understands the struggles and who has been there in the trenches with us gives him a whole other level of credibility.”

Acuna was a leader and team co-captain while at Georgia State. He’s someone who bleeds blue and has a genuine love for the program.

“[Sebastian] brings passion above all things to the job,” Duarte said. “The guy loves tennis and loves Georgia State. He will keep us motivated and passionate not only for the sport but also for the school that has done so much for us.”

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