Todd Doebler Comments from Spring Sports Media Day
Feb. 25, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head Coach Todd Doebler
Q: You expressed going into the trip to Seattle that you wanted to get better with every match out there. Do you think you were able to do that?
A: I think so. Playing the No. 1 team in the country, the No. 4 team in the country and the No. 9 team in the country, I think that is the best tennis we have played in the year and a half that I have been here. The Notre Dame match was really close. We played even better against Baylor without our No. 4 player. And even in the Virginia match, we played really well. Going into that, being the program's first time playing three top 10 teams in a row, I think they fought hard and got better every day.
Q: What are your expectations coming into the Big Ten season this weekend?
A: I think it is going to be a big challenge this year. There are a lot of teams that have improved from last year. We are coming off a season that we went 6-4 in the Big Ten. I know the guys have pretty high expectations. It is more how they play that basing it on wins and losses. I don't like to let them talk about wins and losses. I think that came back to get us last year where we looked past Michigan State. I think they started talking about going 7-3 in the Big Ten and forgot that we had to play a match in East Lansing and they got us. I think we really have to go one match at a time, and that is Northwestern this weekend. Then we leave on spring break. We are playing at the Blue-Gray Classic, which is a very tough tournament, on spring break. We are guaranteed three matches and all 16 teams are ranked. After that trip we will focus on the Big Ten.
Q: With 10 out of the 11 teams ranked in the Big Ten, do you think it is the best conference in the country?
A: No, I don't think we are the best conference in the country. Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan are up there, but the conference has definitely gotten better in the past few years, and will continue to get better in the coming years. I think we have a little more ground to gain as a conference to get better.
A: I think any time you can go play the best teams in the country and take some positives out of it, I think it helps. With our guys, that is something they have always talked about that they wanted to do was win the ECAC Championship in the fall so they could play at indoors in the spring. I was just really proud. It is a grind to play three teams that good on consecutive days. Especially when you are doing it for the first time. For our guys to come out and almost win the doubles point against Baylor with a new team at No. 2, and to come out and play well in singles, I am really proud of what they did.
Q: Can you comment on the higher level of doubles play this spring?
A: Last year we had some moments of very good doubles, but never consistently had it where all three teams played well in the same match. Las year our No. 1 doubles team was ranked as high as 17th in the country at one point and made the finals at regionals. Ryan Berger and Michael James beat the No. 2 team in the country at Michigan, but we never really got it together. I think a lot of it is that the guys are really buying in and learning the importance of doubles. The way we are coaching it and the way we are playing is different than in the past. I think they can play even better doubles, but I think it has been much more consistent and a much higher level than in the past?
Q: What possessed you to break up the doubles team of Lynch and Gormley after they made the finals at the ITA Northeast Regionals in the fall?
A: What those guys did at regionals, it is kind of interesting. The last two years, Slagter and James we put together probably nine days before the tournament and they made the final. And Lynch and Gormley, we put them together late and they had good chemistry. For them to go on and make the finals, it was an unbelievable run. We have three good teams. As good as they were, I think we had to make a change. They could be back together next year, but we kind of had to break them up for the overall benefit of the team. If we put them together tomorrow, they would probably play well and fight really hard and enjoy it.
Q: Did you get a chance to see the team perform its hip-hop dance routine at THON over the weekend? If so, what were your thoughts?
A: Of course. We went to watch on Saturday. We saw them practice it after practice on Friday. We ran Saturday after hitting and they came back after that and practiced the dance again. They actually were really excited. It was fun to see them work together as a team. It is something off the court that they enjoyed and obviously be a part of THON was great for them. I can't stop laughing. I recorded it and I am waiting to see a better recording of it. They did an outstanding job.