Matador Minute with Gary Victor --- Women's Tennis
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. ---
Cal State Northridge women’s tennis head coach Gary Victor enters his 16th season at the helm of the Matadors. A year after finishing 12-9 overall, including his 200th career victory, Victor believes the Matadors are set up for an interesting season on the court in 2012-13.
The team figures to be led by a trio of seniors who will look to end their college careers with success: Sabrina Man-Son-Hing, Anna Yang and Maria Pistalu. All three have earned All-Big West honors in their careers and rank among the school’s top players in both singles and doubles.
The team will also feature several younger players who will look to make their mark on a squad that has recorded double-digit victories in 12 of Victor’s 15 seasons and a winning record in 10 of those campaigns.
Q: Can you talk about your thoughts on the three senior student-athletes?
A: “Sabrina and Anna both made tremendous strides last year. Both have put in work and training on a consistent basis and are playing tournaments in the summer to sharpen their skills. Maria has the ability to play at the top of the singles draw for us. She matured a great deal last season and we need her to step up for us to be competitive in the Big West Conference.”
Q: How have the additions of Hawai’i and San Diego State changed the landscape of Big West women’s tennis?
A: “Both are fully funded programs that raise the competitive level of the league. Hawai’i won the Western Athletic Conference tournament last year and has greatly improved. San Diego State is consistently ranked nationally and competes in the NCAA Tournament just about every year. I think their additions make the Big West the best mid-major women’s tennis conference in the nation.”
Q: Can you talk about some of the younger players on the roster?
A: “It’s hard to believe, but Lorraine Cheung is already a junior. We have been pleased with her progress, leadership and her academic acumen. She, Jennifer Sher and Sabrina were all named to the 2012 ITA Division-I All-Academic Team. Corinne Schynder has the work ethic to be a solid Division-I player who may just need a breakthrough to realize her potential. Marjani Simmons is another underclassman that has trained hard to compete for a spot in the line-up. Finally, we are adding a pair of freshmen that we have high expectations for. Leslie Chang is from Aliso Viejo and is counting down the days until she becomes a college tennis player. Jessica Warren is a great athlete and we believe her best tennis is ahead of her.”
Q: How did your term as Chair of the Western Region ITA Coaches' Committee go?
A: “It was a good experience that showed me a lot about the inner workings of collegiate tennis. We worked a lot on initiatives to preserve the sport while also studying ways to better the game.”
Q: After his win at Wimbledon, is Roger Federer the greatest men’s player in history?
A: “In my opinion, yes, Federer is the greatest of all time. Of course, it’s a great topic to debate. Rod Laver won the Grand Slam twice and lost several top years of play before the open era was instituted in 1968. And today, it seems Nadal owns Federer while nearly everyone in the world acknowledges that Novak Djokovic is the best at the current moment. Of course, you also have guys like Pete Sampras and a host of others to add to the conversation, so it makes for a great debate.”
Q: What’s been some of the biggest changes to the game between the different eras?
A: “I think your first impulse is to talk about how the new technology in rackets has really changed the game. And it certainly has, but I don’t think it has had the effect that the advancements in string technology have created. There is more bite on the ball than ever thanks in part to the advancements in polyester strings.”
Q: How did you view yet another Wimbledon triumph by Serena Williams?
A: “She played well throughout the tournament, fought through some tough matches early and continued to put herself in the discussion for one of the greatest ever. With Serena, just when you thought she was done, she pulls out something like her performance in Wimbledon.”
Q: Speaking of Wimbledon, the All-England Tennis Club will host the Olympic tennis matches. How will that impact the games?
A: “I think it adds to the intrigue of the Olympics. I believe most of the players will treat this like another major and playing on grass courts should add a unique element to the competition. For some players, this event is an opportunity to represent their country and that can be very intoxicating.”