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March 31, 2016

We caught up with senior Ryan Shane before practice this week. He talks about his trip to the White House as well as talking about where the team is at right now and previews this Friday’s huge rematch with the Tar Heels down in Chapel Hill.

The team has won eight matches in a row and three of the last four you have had seven zero sweeps. How is the team feeling? Where are you guys at right now?
I’d say the team feels pretty good. We bounced back quickly after our indoor match against UNC. We’ve got the right perspective right now by focusing on the right things and controlling what we can control. I’d say we’re probably the best we’ve been in a while. We’re feeling close and we’re getting along and I think we have a really positive outlook and the rest of the season

A huge match for you guys this Friday down at number one North Carolina. The last time you guys met was here at the ITA indoors. How do you feel about this Friday?
I feel excited. I think we’re ready. For the first time we are hunting an ACC team rather than being hunted. When we played them last time we were the one seed here so it’s switched a little bit. We’re at their home courts. We’re feeling a little bit looser. I think we’ve put in a lot of work, more than at the start of the season. I think we’re ready. We’re excited. We’re looking forward to going down there and competing and giving it our all.

You and Luca [Corinteli] are the number two ranked doubles team in the country. Luca has been playing some great tennis right now. What have you seen playing with him and what do you think is working for him?
I’ve seen a huge shift in his outlook on the court. He brings a lot of positive energy. He’s been doing a lot of things behind the scenes. He’s putting in tremendous hours of work and effort. He’s killing it on the court and off the court. He’s balanced right now. On the court and off the court he puts in work. He’s not thinking about tennis, which is big for a tennis player. I think that has helped him a lot. He has a new outlook. He’s just enjoying it a lot more and having fun and it’s done a lot for him.

What makes you guys such a good team?
I think our styles of how we play really complement each other well. He’s much better at the next and can close off points and I’m much better at the baseline. I can set him up really well and I think we just flow. We’ve known each other since I was about eleven or twelve. We’ve known each other for a long time and we get along on the court. We just understand what each of us does really well and use it to our advantage.

UNC is just the first in a ten-day road trip. To a lot of people that sounds tiring. What the most exciting thing though? There’s a lot of great stuff that happens on the road. What’s your favorite part about road trips?
All of the road trips are a lot of fun. There are things that happen behind closed doors when all of the guys get together after a match or before a match and just spend time together because there’s really not that much to do. You’re with your teammates and you spend a lot of time with them. One of my favorite things is being on the bus. All of the guys are pretty close on the bus. We get a pretty bug bus, but everyone is in one area. We talk, catch up, play games, and do whatever we can to kill time because getting down to UNC will be about five hours and we will either fly or drive to Georgia and then Florida. I don’t know. We’ll have a lot of time on the bus and I like bus rides a lot. I mean, like I said, we’re just really close on the bus. We catch up because we all have pretty busy lives. We may not see each other too much during the spring season, especially dealing with school and getting ready for matches, but road trips definitely bring us all together.

So speaking of catching up, I’m sure that all of our fans right now are interested in hearing about what you’ve been up to this particular week. So tell us about your Monday.
I visited the White House and got to play tennis with Obama and take some pictures with him. It was a lot of fun. I spent the whole day pretty much on the little tennis courts, which are shared with the basketball court, and there were a lot of famous basketball players there too like Shaquille O’Neal. It was cool to take pictures with him and some other legends. They came over and we bunted the ball around. It was fun. A lot of the kids, I think they enjoyed it a lot. James Blake was there and so were Sloane Stevens and Shelby Rogers. There were a lot of big names there for a fun day.

And this was something you were doing through the USTA?
Yes. The USTA invited me as a college representative. I’m really not sure. That’s what I was told so it was just an honor to be there and it was a lot of fun to meet the president and exchange a few words with him and talk to the kids a little bit. It was a good day.

You had met the President before [after the team won the NCAA Championship in 2013], but didn’t speak to him?
Yeah we went with all of the college teams one year and he was just shaking hands and this time he actually stopped and talked to me for maybe twenty seconds. Twenty seconds of his time is a lot of time.

So what did you say to the President?
I said thank you for having me here. It’s an honor. He asked me what school I went to and I said UVA and he moved on to the next one. I really tried to make it as long as I could and talk slowly so that I held him there for a little bit.

And how about your encounter with Shaq?
He was swamped with people taking pictures, but I went up to him and asked for a picture. I told him he was a legend and he talked to us for a little bit. My girlfriend was there and she wanted the picture. I tapped him on the shoulder and he was much bigger than me and then we took a group photo with him and he was dunking on some of the people and joking around. He’s a pretty funny guy and laid back. So it was just little encounters with famous people.

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