Q&A with Houston Barrick
This week the top-ranked Virginia men’s tennis team concludes the home portion of its regular season schedule with three matches at the Snyder Tennis Center. The Cavaliers host NC State on Friday at 3 p.m. and Wake Forest and Hampton in a doubleheader on Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. VirginiaSports.com caught up with senior Houston Barrick to discuss the team, this week’s matches, his senior day and the goals for the remainder of the season.
Question: Sunday is senior day for you. Does it feel like your collegiate career has flown by?
Barrick: Coach and I were talking about this the other day. It feels like it has gone by so fast. I came to school in January of my first-year, so that may add to how fast it seems. It feels like I just got here. It seems like just yesterday that I was in my first semester, trying to figure out where everything was. Now it is the senior weekend. It has been a great ride and hopefully the best is still to come.
Question: You and fellow senior Lee Singer have two streaks in your careers, that the team hasn’t lost a home match or an ACC match during your time at Virginia. What do those streaks say about the success of your era?
Barrick: Of course those are records that we would love to keep going, but at the end of the day, they are just that: records. As nice as it is, that isn’t the goal that Lee and I have for this team. It is to do something that this program hasn’t ever done at the end of the season. If to accomplish that ultimate goal means we break or set some records along the way then great, but it isn’t what we are focused on each and every day.
Question: You mentioned having that ultimate goal in place. The last two seasons you went undefeated through the regular season, were the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but didn’t take home the title. Do you feel like this team has some unfinished business this postseason?
Barrick: That is what we are thinking. In my previous three seasons we went semis, semis, and quarters. Lee and I want to end our careers on a high note, getting to the finals and winning it all. It is a long road to get to that point, but it would be an unbelievable way to end our careers at Virginia. It is such a special place. The coaches have built such a great program. To be able to be part of a first championship at UVa would be a great way to conclude my college career.
Question: Individually you have a milestone upcoming, as your next singles win will be the 100th of your Virginia career. Only five previous Cavaliers have reached the milestone: Somdev Devvarman, Treat Huey, Brian Vahaly, Rylan Rizza and Darrin Cohen. What will it mean to you to be part of that exclusive group?
Barrick: It would be quite an honor. I feel like I have given my all for Virginia and I have had a lot of close and long wins during my career. That is a great group of players to be associated with. I got a chance to play with Somdev and Treat and they taught me so much about the game and how to be a leader. I have tried to pass that knowledge on to the younger guys. And a bunch of those guys, like Sanam, Michael, Drew and Jarmere will be reaching this milestone too someday. Those earlier guys are the ones who paved the way for us and we wouldn’t be having the success we are now without their hard work. To even be mentioned with guys like them is an honor.
Question: Last week the team had two close 4-3 wins at North Carolina and Duke. You were the only player in the singles lineup to win both days. What was the key to pulling out those wins?
Barrick: Obviously going on the road in the ACC is tough, especially to North Carolina and Duke who have been probably our two biggest rivals during my time here. To go on the road and win back-to-back 4-3 matches in those types of atmospheres is not easy. It shows that this team has what it takes to overcome some adversity and win the tight matches. You are not going to be at your best every day. You are going to have days when guys don’t play as well and it is going to be tough. But great teams find a way to win on those days and that is a great sign for us moving forward. I was able to get a couple of wins and it helped the team win, and that is the most important thing.
Question: You have two more tough ACC matches this week in NC State and Wake Forest. What is the key to keeping your momentum going?
Barrick: It starts with practice. We took Monday off, but then we are getting back after it. It is going to be hot this week and it will be good to get used to it. It is going to be hot at the ACCs in Cary in a few weeks and hot at the NCAAs in Athens in May. These ACC matches are also getting us ready for the postseason. Wake is a great team and they have taken Tennessee and USC to the wire, so they can play with anyone. In the ACC, every week is going to be tough. You just have to take it one match at a time and work on getting better with each match.