Using the advantages of the elite 30,000 square foot J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center, coupled with his drive and determination to succeed, Choboy has helped the Wolfpack turn the corner in the Atlantic Coast Conference and become a national player.
In his first season with NC State, Choboy inherited only two players and fielded a roster of just six players for the season, winning 30 singles matches as a team. After a year of recruiting, he brought in a strong class of six players, led by 2004 All-ACC standout Conor Taylor. That year, his squad won 46 matches, including 15 ACC matches, compared to six conference wins his first season. In 2005, the Wolfpack continued its ascent up the conference standings, as well as in the national polls, as the team finished the season at No. 46 in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll. The team's 15 wins served as the most since 1988 for any Wolfpack team, while the 12-0 start to the season marked the second best start and second longest win streak in school history.
In 2006, Choboy led the Wolfpack to a 20-11 recod and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999. He followed that up with a magnificent 2007 season, as the Wolfpack finished No. 19 in the country with a 23-10 record and an Elite Eight finish at the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. In fact, it was the first time the Pack won an NCAA Tournament game, as the Wolfpack entered the post season with a 0-3 record in NCAA Tournament matches before wins over No. 43 William & Mary, No. 6 North Carolina, and No. 11 Texas.
The ranking marks the Pack's best-ever finish at the end of the season, as well as its highest-ever ranking.
Choboy is the only coach in program history to take the Pack to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years, and he has established NC State as one of the fastest-rising programs in the country.
Entering this season, what was the goal for your team?
When we got here we were not ranked... we didn't have a very good team. So our objective has been to try and move up 10-to-20 spots in the national rankings each year.
We've done that each year, and we did it again this year. We're trying to build on each year. We broke some records last year, and we broke some more this year. We had never won a round in the NCAA Tournament until this year when we won three of them.
Our team feels legitimately that we are a top-10 team... in that area. I think that we were more consistent in going about that this year... proving that effort. Those were some of the goals that we had.
|"The kids on this team are here to win championships. That's what they came here to do, and that is what we are trying to build towards."|
The kids on this team are here to win championships. That's what they came here to do, and that is what we are trying to build towards.
You had a good season last year. Entering this season, did you feel the momentum building off of last season?
It's been said by a number of people, you can't actually be a good team until you win. You can say you're good, you can think you're good, but you have to win matches and you have to win games before you are actually good.
I think building off of last year's momentum and the year before, each year getting better and better. Once you win these matches, then your team has an expectation. They understand. It is no longer the coaching staff telling them that they can win these matches. It becomes once they start doing it, that just carries itself into momentum. A lot of things will be different with this team in the future now based on what they've done the past couple of years... particularly this year.
How strong do you think this program can be?
I think we can win the national championship. That is our objective. We were two wins away from playing for it this year. I'm not sure that when I said that when I first got here people believed that was possible to do, but I know we can do it.
We have things we have to still do. We have to continue to build the outdoor stadium, the facility, and get up to speed with the rest of the elite teams as far as that is concerned.
NC State is a great university with a great education and in some areas it is amongst the very best in the country. There are things here we can sell very well, and we are going to continue to do that. We can win the national championship. I have no doubt about that at all.
From an outsider's perspective it seems you have turned the program around very quickly. Are you surprised by how quickly the program has progressed?
It hasn't been quick to me... and not when you look at the people we have on our team. A lot of these kids are young players. We aren't going to be losing our whole team in the next year. We've got a good young team here and it is a place where a lot of players want to come and play now. They know something is going on here.
It doesn't happen very often, but when a new team comes along amongst the elite teams, people want to be a part of that. It's something new, it's something exciting, and they can make a name for themselves here and help the program get to that point.
I don't think it's a surprise to the kids if you look at the team.
What type of an impact has this indoor facility made on recruiting and your program?
I think it has definitely helped. I think it is two-fold. I think it helps in recruiting, but also when we didn't have this indoor facility we couldn't practice in inclement weather. We would travel to go and play on a clay court at 8:00 at night, and then play our games on hardcourts, which is really hard to do. We had to do what we could to get by because we knew this was getting built. In that first couple of years it was very difficult, so the practices are one thing.
Recruiting gets better when you win tennis matches. That's how you recruit... you start to win. In the beginning we didn't have that strong of a team, so I had to really convince kids to come here on faith. When you start winning, you can recruit easier and you can win when you practice. They are not going to come just because of a facility, but you have to show results because everybody out there has facilities that we are competing against. It's the results and the product that you are putting on the court that is going to help with recruiting. There are several different things this facility has done for us.
|"It's the results and the product that you are putting on the court that is going to help with recruiting."|
Thoughts on the new outdoor facility being built:
We have the outdoor facility. It is going to be addressed next. It will be built into the hill... right outside of here. The stadium will be built into the hill and it will have lights.
We've been meeting on this. This is on the board. It's not something that is ten years down the road, maybe even five years down the road, I think it may be within the next two years. That's the next phase, and our objective is to be able to host the NCAA Regionals. We were very close to being able to do that this year, but we had to travel to Carolina.
In tennis, there are sixteen sites at the beginning of the tournament with four teams at each site. There are a one, two, three, and four-seed at each site. We were a two-seed at Carolina and they were the one-seed, so we had to go and beat them at their place.
Our objective next year is to host the first two rounds here by being one of the top sixteen teams. We have to do a good job next year, but if we're in that range we're going to host the first two rounds of the NCAAs here next year. That facility is one of the things we have to have to do that consistently.
So that facility is a few years off?
That may start a year from this spring... I can't say for sure. Coach Fowler would be able to address that better for you. We have met on this several times... the Wolfpack Club, Bobby Purcell, Lee Fowler. It's not a dream. It is something we are going to do.