Coach Manny Diaz
Sep 9, 2013
ATHENS-----As the 2013-14 season is set to get underway Friday, Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz sits down with georgiadogs.com to preview his 26th year at the helm of the Bulldogs.
Georgiadogs.com: How do you feel about the strength of the schedule this year?
Manny Diaz: I think we've got a tremendous schedule, probably one of the toughest schedules we've ever had. That's something exciting because our players gained a lot of experience last year. I expect our SEC teams to be even stronger than last year, our SEC competition to be even stronger than last year. Then we play Ohio State who is a perennial national contender on our courts next year, I also expect them to be top 3 or 4 in the nation. For the first time we've started this SEC versus Pac 12 showdown which will include UCLA, USC, and Florida. Both SEC schools will meet both Pac 12 schools so we won't play Florida in this meet but we will have the opportunity to play USC and UCLA who will also likely be in the top four or five in the country.
Georgiadogs.com: How do you continue the momentum from such a successful season last year?
Manny Diaz: Well that's our standard; we expect to compete for those two SEC championships every year. I don't see a reason why we can't this year. It's going to take a lot, it's going to take our best and that's what we're aiming to achieve this year. We know it's going to be extremely fast competition, and we know we're going to have to play our best. If we do and that's something we expect to be able to accomplish, stay healthy, and compete to the best of our ability, I believe we will be a definite contender.
Georgiadogs.com: After having no seniors on last years team, how good are Hernus Pieters and Garrett Brasseaux?
Manny Diaz: I think Garrett and Hernus really had strong seasons last year and they're both hungry to play even higher this year. I think we saw Garrett was probably our most improved player last year; he really gave us a huge boost. He's going to be tremendous in both singles and doubles this year. Last year he worked extremely hard and got stronger and fitter and his practices became a lot more focused, that truly defined what happened to us as a team and I think he really lead the way. I expect him to have a great year and you could possibly look for both of those guys to play higher up.
Georgiadogs.com: How good are this group and how much do you like being around them?
Manny Diaz: This is probably one of the most fun groups I've ever worked with. I've loved all my teams but this is a lot of fun and especially last year when they came together for the end of the year it showed it was a hard working team, it was a team that had a lot of chemistry, a lot of spunk, they really played hard for each other and that's what we've always been about and that's what we take a great deal of pride in. I thought at the end of the year, even though it was a difficult loss when we lost in the semifinals after coming so close, as painful as that was it was such a gratifying year if you really look at the whole thing.
Georgiadogs.com: How much will the loss to Virginia (in the NCAA semi final) serve as motivation this season?
Manny Diaz: We saw what we can do, we had a lot of young members on our team and we had a lot of talent. To the players I think more than anything they got a taste of what it was to compete for a national championship and they can't wait until this year comes around.
Georgiadogs.com: How important is it to you to have Will Glenn and Tristan Venables on the staff?
Manny Diaz: I really honestly believe that those two guys add so much to our program; they're such a huge part of what happens here everyday. They live for the kids and they're just entirely dedicated to seeing these kids fulfill their potential, not only as tennis players but also as students and as people. They care very much about these kids and I feel that we've got the best assistants in the nation.
Georgiadogs.com: How big is it for Georgia to be hosting the NCAA Championships again in May?
Manny Diaz: I think the kids are extremely excited but it's something we must prepare for because, when the tournament is here, there's going to be a lot of distractions, there's going to be a lot of expectations and that's what we must prepare for. It's not just as easy as playing in front of our crowd and it being great, there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes with how you deal with all those things that will make a major difference.