Throughout the offseason, GoMocs.com plans to check in with all 12 of UTC’s head coaches to see what goes on during the summer months with each program. With men’s golf, softball and track & field still competing, there is a lot left to the 2013-14 season. However, some of our teams have already wrapped up play and are looking to next year.
Men’s tennis head coach Carlos Garcia has been working hard since his team hosted the 2014 Southern Conference Championships in April. The Mocs have to replace their lone senior, Jorge Varon, but welcome back six letter winners.
Coach Garcia just wrapped up his 13th season at UTC and took time out for the Q&A below.
What does the offseason look like for your returning student-athletes?
“It is a combination of summer internships and playing in competitive tournaments. We try to encourage guys to play in 4-6 tournaments if possible, but some also have other obligations they have to attend to in the summer.
“We do have some that are going to be playing the ITA Summer Circuit that has branched out into different areas of the south and in Florida. We have a couple who are going to try to play 2-3 of those.
“We do have a couple who have some great academic internships. They need it to complete their degree requirements.
“Pavels Grigorjevs is doing one in Cherokee, N.C., right now. He is also going to Texas later in the summer to intern with a racing manufacturer. That is right up his alley. Being a Mechanical Engineering major, he loves the technical side of engineering and automobiles.
“Luke Saunders has an unbelievable summer planned. He is working as a marketing intern with the Austin Aces of the World TeamTennis league. They have Andy Roddick as their marquee player, along with the reigning Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli. They also have the runner-up in Wimbledon doubles, Treat Huey. It should be a very good experience for Luke.
“I am hoping Derrick Brown and Austin Boaz will be able to come up to the Tennessee Valley Open Championships at Manker Patten. We would like to have 4-5 guys in that field. It is a great collegiate tournament here in Chattanooga that has some professionals playing in it as well. They are going to play some of the ITA summer circuit as well.”
Pavels is your lone senior and top returner next year. Are looking for him to be a leader on the team?
“He moved up and got adjusted to the No. 1 position, but it was a little difficult in the beginning. He finished the year playing and carrying himself around the court like a No. 1 player. I think that was a great character-building year for him.
"I look for him to come in and be my captain next year. Part of being a captain is leading on and off the court. His work ethic is right up there among the best of my returning players. He is not the most-get-in-your-face type of player, but he does lead by example and that is fine with me.”
I don’t think a lot of people know this, but you are ranked pretty high in your age group in the WORLD. Talk about your extended playing career and how it is going.
“Even as a young 50-year-old, I still have a desire to compete. There are windows during the year I can take advantage of, and I am still lucky to be able to get out and compete.
“Recently, I took part in the ITF World Championships in West Palm Beach, Florida. That is the caliber of tournament I would love to expose myself more in the future if given the opportunity. The ITF are tournaments that establish world rankings and there just are not a whole lot of those in the States. It is awfully nice to compete against players from other countries and I try to do that as often as I can.
“I played and lost (8-6 in the third) to the No. 15 player in the world in a four-hour marathon match. That’s the only ITF Tournament I was able to play since it was in Florida. It travels the world on a yearly basis, it just happened to be in Florida this spring. We had some success in doubles and I am now in the top-200 in the world 50s doubles rankings.”
That kind of exposure has to have networking benefits that help recruiting?
“I made probably a dozen contacts when I was in West Palm Beach this past month, and I was able to expand those even more. A lot of the players we are competing against have academies or know of top youth players in their countries. I gave out a dozen cards and am already in touch with a few that are going to keep Chattanooga on their list if some prospect comes across their path.
“I played against guys from South Africa, Mexico, Canada, so it is a chance to get our program out on a world scale. If you look at our roster, it certainly has an international flavor and we have definitely benefited from those relationships.”
One of your internationals on the roster is Lucas Plesky. He did not play last season, but is he expected to have an impact in 2015?
“I am looking forward to having Lucas eligible in January 2015. He is going to be a top player here and has a bright future for the Mocs. He will have three years of eligibility after sitting a full year in residency. He would have been in one of the top positions if he was eligible this past season. He just has to fill his year of residency and then he will have a huge impact.”