The Virginia women’s tennis team opens its dual match season this weekend when it hosts a doubleheader Sunday at the Boar’s Head Sports Club. The No. 26 Cavaliers open against No. 33 Illinois at 10 a.m. before playing Richmond at 4 p.m. Virginiasports.com caught up with head coach Mark Guilbeau to preview the upcoming season and this weekend’s matches.
Question: You begin the dual match season on Sunday. How excited are you and the team to get the season started?
Guilbeau: We are very excited. We have worked hard to get to this point and are ready to get the season started. We got some good experience last week when we hosted the UVa Winter Invitational. We are hoping that we will be able to build on that tournament and come out and have a good start to the season against a strong Illinois team and a solid Richmond team.
Question: What did you learn about your team by being able to play some matches last week in the invitational?
Guilbeau: It certainly looks like the team is ready to compete and that nerves didn’t seem to be a factor. Everyone has to work through different stages of handling pressure, but overall the team did a very good job with that. You are always working to improve. Last week was solid, but that said, we still need to work on our doubles a good bit. We also need to be more consistent in singles. We had some very strong moments, but you also need to work on eliminating the mistakes.
Question: More than half your team are first-years. What have you told them heading into their first dual match?
Guilbeau: We try to go through the fundamentals, from communication to preparation to the match itself. They have done real well to attending to those things. It is a young team overall. What we try to do is treat them all the same way. That might be asking a lot of the really young kids, but for them to step up and have great careers, it starts at the very beginning. We all have confidence that they are ready to do that.
Question: Is it an advantage to open the season with a pair of home matches before you head on the road the following week for the ITA regional?
Guilbeau: It is very much a positive. We had really good fan support last weekend for the invitational, even though there were a lot of other home events going around. It is continuing to grow. This team seems to handle and thrive playing in front of crowds. Hopefully that excitement will continue to grow. We can help in that by playing with a lot of energy and passion and playing at a high level. Everything from being familiar with the courts, to not having to travel, to the fans will be a benefit for us this weekend.
Question: What will fans see from the matches this weekend?
Guilbeau: There will be three good teams competing and should be some good tennis all the way around. From us, I hope they will see a very fundamentally sound team with a lot of energy. It starts with great doubles and carries over into singles.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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