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Feb. 11, 2016

We caught up with Mac Styslinger (Birmingham, Ala.) at practice this week. The senior co-captain talks about the importance of hosting ITA Indoors, his memories of winning it as a first-year and his plans for his final semester and beyond in this Q&A.

You have started the season with some dominant wins. Talk about the start of the season.
“I think we’ve started off really well. The guys seem to be playing extremely well going into National Indoors and the UCLA match tomorrow night. I’m really pleased with where the team is and I think this will be a good test for us coming up. These first four matches are great to jump-start our season and give us some confidence going into these big matches coming up.”

You personally have also had a solid start.
“Things are going great. I’m playing some of the best tennis I’ve played since being in college. I’m really, really pleased with how well I’m playing right now. I’m taking a lighter course load in my last semester here and that’s really helping. Also, Thai [Kwiatowski] and I went out to California to play two Futures up there, which gave me some confidence and some matches under my belt before we started up the season. I think it’s all about preparation and we’ve done a lot to prepare for this season.”

Tell us about the team chemistry.
“I think towards the end of last year, the team really came together. It was for sure the closest team I’ve ever been on. It’s pretty cool that we’ve been able to carry that over this year into the fall and now all the guys are extremely close. It’s pretty easy to get along with every single guy on the team; they’re great. The addition of [Aswin Lizen] it only makes it better. He’s a great guy, he fits in really well here. He’s going to do really well here in his time at UVA.”

Explain to the casual fan the importance of the ITA Indoors.
“I’d say [ITA Men’s National Team Indoor Championship] is one tier below NCAAs. It’s the National Championship for indoors, all the top 64 teams compete in this tournament. The first two rounds are played at regional sites, and we’re lucky enough to host the top 16 teams in the country this coming weekend. It’s going to be the best teams in the country all competing for the championship and it’s going to be some really good tennis out here this weekend.”

What does it mean to be hosting a tournament of this caliber?
“I’m extremely excited to see the fan turnout and see how we can do there. Hopefully it gives us a huge advantage, having the students, the fans and the alumni here to support us. It’s pretty cool to be able to play such a big and prestigious tournament in your own building.”

You were on the team in 2013 that won this tournament. What was that like?
“I still remember it pretty vividly. It was my first team tournament in college so to be able to win that first one was really pretty special. I just love the experience, getting the guys together and spending a lot of time with them over the weekend. It’s great.”

How are classes going in your final semester and what do you have planned after May?
“I’m majoring in Economics. I’m done with my major now and don’t have anymore Econ classes to take. Being an Econ major has given me so many opportunities. Last summer I interned at a small boutique firm called Fidus Partners in New York and I accepted a job offer to start working there this coming summer where I’ll be doing banking. Doing Econ here at a school like Virginia really just gives you so many opportunities to do whatever you want; consulting or really anything — you can take it anywhere you want. So at a school like Virginia, it’s pretty cool.”

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