Hopefully you aren’t too worn out from the last two weeks of tennis at the Australian Open, because the collegiate tennis season is finally here! Parsa was in Texas for the ITA Kickoff Weekend, and was able to catch up with Texas’ head coach Michael Center. Coach Center discusses a tough loss to Notre Dame, the brand new tennis facilities at Texas, and what he looks for on the recruiting trail.
On-site interview between Parsa Nemati and Coach Michael Center:
Parsa: Here with coach Michael Center of the Texas Longhorns. You guys are hosting ITA Kickoff Weekend. Tough loss last night, but what do you try to take from that and move forward and move on?
Coach Center: Yeah, I mean it was disappointing to play your first match and be up 3-1. I don’t think we’ve ever had that happen to us at home. We played good doubles but we just — we didn’t take the momentum, the opportunities we had to gain momentum yesterday, and then Notre Dame played a great match. They hung in there and they kept giving themselves chances and at the end they came out on top. So, it’s early obviously, but we felt like we were capable of playing at the National Indoors obviously so we’re disappointed but we got to rebound. We have a tough match today with Tennessee.
Parsa: You guys are a top 10 team which means, nowadays, you have to have a beautiful facility and you guys did just that. And this is a wonderful place. How do you try to incorporate this for your players and just make everything easier like coach Joffe was saying, everything here is for the players. Their training room, everything. And then for recruits as well, it looks really nice. There was a baseball kid visiting the other day. The baseball coach brought his baseball recruit haha.
Coach Center: Yeah everybody is stopping by to see it. You know, we wanted to make this as convenient for the athlete as possible. So, to do fitness, to relax, to practice, look at film, study. We have a little study area. To get something to eat so I think it’s really met our needs and I think going forward it’s going to be a big plus for us.
Parsa: What are attributes you look for when recruiting, in a recruit?
Coach Center: I think everybody has a different eye, what they’re looking for out there. You know, I like to see a guy that can do a little bit of everything. That can come forward and apply the pressure and finish balls at the net. I think it’s really hard to win if you just exclusively play from the back of the court. I’m looking for a guy that I think is mentally and physically durable and tough and likes to compete. You try to find the guy that you think his best tennis is in front of him. A lot of these kids are playing all over the world and playing a lot of tennis, and you’re always concerned that sometimes when they get to school, maybe, they’ve had enough. So, we’re looking for that guy that loves to compete, loves to get better and —
Parsa: There are guys that come in as a 14, they end up becoming like a 13.5 UTR. There’s guys that come in as a 13.5 that you develop into 14’s.
Coach Center: They become 14’s, yeah. So that’s the goal and obviously there are a lot of great players out there. There are a lot of competitive programs out there looking for those great players, but I think we’ve got a lot to offer here, but we’re trying to find that guy that still loves the game.
Parsa: What are your thoughts on no-ad in college tennis?
Coach Center: I like it. I mean, I like it. Yesterday we lost some tough no-ad points, but I think it’s exciting for the fans. I think it’s exciting for the players, and I think now that we’ve done it, I think people are getting used to it so I think it makes it more fun.
Parsa: Finally, after this weekend, what are your goals for the rest of the season and trying to rebound from this? It’s just January right now, and the important thing is obviously April and May.
Coach Center: Well, we’ve got to keep getting better. We made a lot of mistakes yesterday. We’re playing better doubles which is good because we’ve struggled a little bit with that the last couple years. We’ve worked hard on it this year to improve that, but we just got to go to work. Anybody that’s been doing this for a while knows that when you get down to April and May, and the matches start to become really really significant, we want to be playing our best tennis at that point.
Parsa: Perfect, thank you sir.
Coach Center: Alright, thank you.
Want more interviews like this one with Coach Center? Check out all of Parsa’s interviews on his CR page. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. We love hearing who you would like us to interview next!