Men's Tennis Spring Sports Media Day
Feb. 13, 2013
Q: Coach, what have you learned about your teams so far? You've had a lot of close, 4-3, matches and you're 4-5 so far this season.
Zinn: That we can play a lot of close matches, that's what I've learned so far. I can't be disappointed in our effort. That has been great. The young man next to me has had a really fine start to his senior year. If you can win some of those close matches, like any sport but especially tennis, the momentum builds. We know we can play with anyone; we just have to start winning those close matches, especially with the Big Ten season looming.
Q: What is challenging about having to play indoors to start the season?
Zinn: For us, this is one of the few times, where one of my teams, I feel like we play better indoors. We have Bryan, who hits the ball extremely hard; fast, hard courts are good for his play. We're really looking forward to that spring break trip when we go to Texas, get some good weather, get some outdoor tennis. Then hopefully the weather breaks and we can get some good weather for the Big Ten matches that we host and play on the road.
Q: Bryan, what are some of the things you need to work on before the Big Ten season starts?
Welnetz: This year, my main goal is just trying to lead this team. I've been on this team for four years and have seen how previous captains have done it. This year, along with Russell Bader, the other co-captain, I'm just trying to be a good leader for the guys. I want to set a good example, coming to work, coming to practice every day and giving 100 percent. Just trying to set the right example and set the tone for the guys, especially to take over next season and the following years.
Q: Coach, can you talk about the Big Ten a little bit and the schedule you've set up? What's it like to go through the rigors of a Big Ten season?
Zinn: You have so many ranked teams in the Big Ten. I think you have nine in the last count. You figure to play that schedule in the Big Ten, you better have a great non-conference schedule or as tough as you can make it. That was one of my big things when I first got here. I told my staff, look, we have to upgrade our non-conference schedule. We have to be able to play some of the best teams in the country just to get ready for the Big Ten season. I've never been one that gets caught up in records, wins and losses. The reason being is in tennis, it's one of those sports where if you beat someone good, your ranking increases and that gets you into the NCAA Championships. So really, it's strength of schedule in tennis. We really needed to beef up our schedule, play quality teams, play teams that are ranked. If you look at our schedule, 19 of the teams are ranked this year. Some people might say, wow, what a schedule. I look at it the other way; that's the schedule you need to be competitive and, especially, to show the guys that every match is tough.
Q: Bryan, what's it like to play these good teams throughout the season, so you're getting tested every week?
Welnetz: This fall, we had a really tough schedule, going to Florida, going to the University of Virginia. We had a really tough schedule and I thought it prepared me, especially at the start of this season against N.C. State. I went out there with confidence. They're a really good team but Coach Zinn prepared a good schedule in the fall. Personally, I enjoyed that; I enjoyed the tough competition. This year, we've had a lot of good matches, a lot of close matches against good teams. I think, ultimately, it gives us confidence to move on, especially towards the Big Ten season.
Q: Bryan, in the dual match the doubles point is huge in the outcome. How do you feel that you're playing in doubles right now?
Welnetz: That's been our focus the last three weeks. We have six, seven, eight really good singles players on our team that can come out any day and put up a fight against probably any team in the country. Our team is really focused on that, but at the same time our doubles needs to get better. We've been working so hard on that and Coach Zinn emphasizes that that's going to make or break our season. We're putting the pieces of the puzzle together and trying to figure out combinations. We'll have it ready in the next few weeks in order to be ready for the Big Ten season.
Q: Coach, how do you figure out which combinations work best?
Zinn: Experience. I've done this a long time. It's chemistry, you match up athleticism with someone who might not be quite as athletic, but has the intelligence factor. It is some trial and error, but mostly it's chemistry between the two players. Bryan's right, that's all we've been working on. That's going to make or break our season. If you look at it, the five matches that we've lost so far, 4-3, basically and we've lost the doubles point in all of those. Our season hinges on the doubles. I know the guys are aware of that. We put pressure on it, because it is a pressure situation. Bryan's right, we can play with any team in singles in the country. If we can win that doubles point, that is a huge momentum factor for us.
Q: Coach, this is your second year. What differences have you seen from your first year to this year?
Zinn: Big changes, big strides. I was lucky to know their names when I got here. I didn't recruit any of these guys. Just getting to know them, getting to know their personalities. Now I feel after a year-and-a-half, we're finally really coaching the players. This young man next to me has made unbelievable strides in his game. I wish I had him a couple more years because he's improved so much. Not only him, everyone's improved. Yes we made a lot of changes, but it we changed the culture and that's what they brought me here to do, that's what we're doing. We haven't quite reaped the rewards that I've wanted for them so far. As he said, it's right around the corner.