Q&A with Drew Courtney
The top-ranked Virginia men’s tennis team hosts a pair of matches this weekend at the Boyd Tinsley Courts at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. The Cavaliers host Maryland is their ACC opener on Friday at 5 p.m. On Saturday, Virginia plays Kentucky at 6 p.m. Virginiasports.com talked with junior Drew Courtney to discuss to start of the season and to preview the upcoming matches.
Question: The team has started the season strong, going 6-0 without the top six players dropping a match. Is this the kind of start to the season you and the team expected?
Courtney: We had good preseason practices as everyone came back ready to work and play at a high level. It has been a good start to the season, but I feel like our best tennis is still ahead of us. The matches this weekend will be a good opportunity to show where our team is at this point in the season.
Question: Last week you won a pair of matches to qualify for 2011 ITA National Team Indoors. Virginia is the three-time defending champion and no team has ever won four consecutive titles. What would winning it again this year mean to you?
Courtney: It would be amazing. I wasn’t here for the first title, but being a part of the last two has been incredible. It would be great for our program to accomplish something that has never been done before. It would also be great for our seniors to go undefeated at National Indoors for their career.
Question: You are one of seven ranked players on the team, including one of five ranked in the top 30 nationally. What does playing against that level of competition every day in practice do for you?
Courtney: It helps a lot. You are hitting with some of the best players in the country every day. It is beneficial for our development in the long run to play day in and day out against guys who hit the ball that well. We also have a number of guys who play with different styles, so you can be prepared for many different types of opponents.
Question: You and Michael Shabaz have followed your NCAA Doubles Championship last year by being undefeated so far this season as a team. How did the opportunities you get over the summer, playing the Bryan brothers at Legg Mason and getting the wild card into the US Open, help in your development as a team?
Courtney: It gave us a lot of confidence. It made us realize that if we play our best tennis, we can compete with any team in the world. We keep improving as a team and hopefully we will be able to peak as a team in May.
Question: This weekend you have a pair of home matches. You host Maryland in the ACC opener on Friday and on Saturday you play Kentucky, who last year gave you the team’s only regular season loss of the past three seasons. What are you expecting from these matches?
Courtney: These should be some exciting matches. It will be good to get the ACC season underway on Friday against Maryland. Conference matches are always tough, so we are excited for that one. On Saturday we are looking for some payback after losing at Kentucky last year. They are a good team again this year, so it should be a pretty good match.