Pilots in the Spotlight: Geoff Hernandez

By The Beacon | February 22, 2012 9:00pm

(The Beacon)

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer -- marcello13@up.edu

Senior Geoff Hernandez and the men's tennis team are off to a hot 5-0 start to the season. The Pilots already defeated one ranked opponent and they face 54th ranked UC Irvine today at 10:30 a.m. in the Tennis Center. I sat down with Geoff to discuss his success so far in the season and what makes him tick.

Q: The team is off to a strong start. What has lead to the team's early success?

A: It's really a snowball effect with our confidence growing. As you get more wins you feel like you can beat more people. Our game is up right now. I'm ready to play anyone in conference, anyone they put in front of me.

Q: You have only lost one of your 10 matches this season (five singles, five doubles). What are your keys to winning?

A: For me being smaller means I gotta be fast, competitive and in their face. Not in a mean way but I have to show that I'm going to be here a long time and they have to work to beat me. I am aggressive when I play in and that is my game style. Good fitness is also important.

Q: Do you have any pregame traditions or rituals?

A: I try to stay away from rituals but I always have a newly strung racket when I play. Actually, I string and get new grip on the racket before every match so that is sort of a ritual. I also like to warm up with certain people. I eat a lot all the time eat and try to eat as much meat as possible.

Q: Are there any pros that you like to emulate when you play?

A: The number one player I emulate is a Spaniard named David Ferrer. He's a small guy too. He's pretty much the guy I like to emulate the most.

Q: Tennis requires a lot of travel. Where is your favorite place that you've played?

A: The best place by far is Vegas. It can also be a horrible trip because you can't do anything because you're playing. It's actually probably most uneventful Vegas trip anyone can have, but I still love it."

Q: If you were not playing tennis, what sport would you play instead?

A: I'd have to say soccer. Not because I like soccer but because I've been asked if I play soccer about 50 times in my career here because I'm short and have a faux hawk.

Q: If you could choose any superhero, who would you be and why?

A: I think I'd have to go with Wolverine because he's badass and I would look like Hugh Jackman. Upgrade.

Q: If you got into a fight and had to choose one teammate to back you up, who would it be and why?

A: I would have to go with my old doubles partner Nick ‘Slayer' Wales. For the current team I wouldn't take any of them but if I were to choose I'd have to go with Michel Hu Kwo because he's so intimidating.

Q: In tennis you don't get numbers but if you got to choose a number what would it be?

A: If I had a number, I think I would go with the double 00, just to represent with Kevin Bailey.

Q: Does the team have any post-game traditions?

A: We always go to Nicola's for dinner. Not the one Lombard but the Lebanese place on Broadway. We get an unimaginable amount of food, and we just destroy it.

Q: If you got to change the school mascot what would you make it?

A: I was actually talking about this today. I would make it a fighter pilot and we would name him Maverick. For colors we would have to be straight up red, white and blue. Freedom fighters.

Q: How devastating is it to know that you no longer have a personal undefeated record this season?

A: It's pretty devastating considering all the emails I was getting about the hope for a perfect season. I've had to do some soul searching and had a lot of long walks. Just have to get back into beast mode. The tiger steps back before he jumps forward.

Q: What makes college tennis different from most other college sports?

A: I gotta say it is one of the toughest college sports because you have kids from all around the world. If you look at our team we only have one American.