Q&A with Mark Guilbeau
The Virginia women’s tennis team hosts its only fall tournament this week when the UVa Fall Invitational takes place at the Snyder Tennis Center. Virginiasports.com caught up with head coach Mark Guilbeau to preview the upcoming season and this weekend’s tournament.
Question: You are several weeks into the fall season and are coming off the first tournament of the year last week at William & Mary. What are you seeing from this team so far?
Guilbeau: The first thing is an immediate attention of the details needed to be a good student and a good athlete. This is a very focused group. They seem like they handle and receive things positively. On top of that, there has been some really good tennis right away as well.
Question: You have four returning players from last year’s squad that all were key contributors a year ago. What are you looking from them this season compared to last year?
Guilbeau: Of course their role as leaders increases, although some of them did that last year, even as first-years. For our senior, Jenny Stevens, she is in a position to really lead this team. I think all of the veterans are all growing in that role and are doing a good job this fall. The young kids have allowed that to be a positive. They are on top of things, very willing and very mature. Overall it is a positive atmosphere. The upperclassmen have a good overall understanding of our goals and they will bring along a great group of newcomers.
Question: You mention the newcomers, as you have four new faces on the team. What do they bring to this program?
Guilbeau: It looks like, at least initially, a very mature, focused, attentive, and intelligent group that really understands not only tennis, but also the academic side. They have come in here ready and wanting to excel in all areas.
Question: You have your one home fall tournament this weekend. What will Cavalier fans expect to see this weekend at the UVa Fall Invitational at the Snyder Tennis Center?
Guilbeau: They will see a very driven team that is also having fun out there. It is a team that plays at a good speed, which is what you want. It is one thing to have the skills, but to be able to handle the pace of the game is very positive. Hopefully our fans will see a lot of energy, a quickness around the court, and some good strategies. It was very positive last weekend. On top of some good singles play, they played really well in doubles. It was probably the most progress we have had in doubles at this point in the season.
Question: How strong is the field of this weekend’s tournament?
Guilbeau: It is a very strong tournament. We are bringing in some deep teams and teams that are looking to be very good this spring. We should have an A Flight of singles where the majority of the 16 players are ranked nationally. Every flight, all the way down, will have quality players. It is a nice way to have a tournament with flights of 16 players where everyone gets four matches. All the players will get a lot of opportunities. Many of these teams are teams that are on our spring schedule so it is a good tournament to see where we are at this point of the season and where we need to improve.
Question: How does playing these challenging tournaments in the fall prepare you for the dual match season in the spring?
Guilbeau: It is exactly what you want. William & Mary last week was a very solid tournament, as will this week’s one here. The fall season will peak in November at National Indoors and our goal is to have some players there. In the spring, the top teams are mostly only going to play against other top teams. You need to challenge yourself in the fall in order to prepare for that level in the spring.