Q&A with Drew Courtney
The Virginia men’s tennis team has started the season 6-0 and is ranked No. 5 in the nation. The Cavaliers conclude their seven-match homestand this weekend when they face Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Friday and open ACC play on Sunday when they host Maryland at 2 p.m. VirginiaSports.com caught up with Drew Courtney, a freshman from Clifton, Va., to discuss his adjustment to playing college tennis.
Question: Now that you are six matches into the dual match season, how has the spring season been different than the fall?
Courtney: The main difference is playing for the team and having all the guys relying on you. In the fall and in juniors you are playing for yourself and you don’t have all your teammates and coaches counting on you to win for the team. The other change is the crowd is different. I had never played in front of hundreds of screaming fans before, either in juniors or in the fall. It is a real cool experience.
Question: A lot of college tennis players grow up primarily playing only junior tennis. You also played for your high school team. Do you think that having team tennis experience before has helped your transition to college tennis?
Courtney: It made it a little bit easier, but the competition was nowhere near where it is at this level. So there weren’t really too many matches that were tight and nerve-wracking. I think it helped me a little bit, but this is team tennis at a completely different level.
Question: Now that you have several months of college tennis behind you, is there anything that has surprised you about this level?
Courtney: I would say the amount of tight calls. I’m not saying that people cheat, but there are a lot more disagreements where the umpires have to get involved. It isn’t as clean of a game as it was in juniors.
Question: Last weekend, you lost just two games in each of your matches and were one of the first ones off the court. How does it feel to quickly put a point on the board for your team and then go and cheer on your teammates?
Courtney: That is an awesome feeling. I would love to be able to do that each and every match. Its always good to put that point on the board and let your teammates know that it is one less point we need to get to win. I think that helps them and pushes them to play even harder. When I have been one of the last guys on the court, I know it inspires me to see my teammates who have already won cheering me on.
Question: Almost half of this year’s roster is made up of freshmen. How have the veterans on the team helped all of you adjust to the team and to college tennis?
Courtney: The veterans have given us so much advice. They keep steering us in the right direction. It is easy to come to college and make mistakes, but with these guys we are in a different position. They have helped us feel comfortable both on and off the court.
Question: Last weekend, at the National Indoor qualifier, was your first taste of tournament tennis. How will having that experience so early in your freshman year help you later on at National Indoors, the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament?
Courtney: It is going to help tremendously. During the first dual matches, I definitely felt some nerves and some pressure, but it is a whole different level when you are playing for team survival in a tournament. With National Indoors coming up and later on at ACCs and NCAAs, I think it will help to have this experience and know what that type of tennis feels like. It will help me to handle the situation, stay within myself and play at a level I know I am capable of playing.”
Question: This weekend concludes a seven-match homestand. You came to a few matches last year after committing to Virginia, but how has it felt be on the court this year rather than the stands?
Courtney: I committed so early in the recruiting process that it felt like it took forever for this moment to come. Now that it has come and I am here and contributing to this team, it is everything I hoped it would be. To play in front of these fans and to represent this University is an awesome feeling. It is amazing and I couldn’t have expected anything more.