Interviewing the University of Louisville’s Alex Westbrooks

1) How did winning a state title before college impact your transition to Division 1 college tennis?

Winning a state title before I went to college was a huge confidence boost for me. The two years leading up to my state title were rough years for me tennis wise, I didn’t feel like I was playing at my best. Getting that state title under my belt helped me get over the hump and get back on track to playing the level of tennis that I knew I was capable of. College tennis is all about confidence and energy, so that definitely helped me believe that I could compete at the division 1 level.

2) Did you feel pressure to be good at tennis given that both of your parents and your sister played Division 1 tennis?

I don’t know if pressure is the right word for it, but there was always an expectation that I would follow in the footsteps of my family and play tennis at a very high level. This wasn’t just an expectation that others had for me, but it was an expectation that I had for myself. I never really considered another route, I knew that I would be playing tennis collegiately and maybe even professionally. Having a family that is so involved in tennis has been a blessing because it has provided me with resources that not everyone has. Not everyone can call on both parents to give them advice on how to handle division 1 sports, and not everyone has the benefit of being able to train with their sister or be coached by their uncle. It was a really great environment to grow up in and I was fortunate to be brought up in a tennis family.

3) How do you react to this clip of your uncle? (see above)

The Wimbledon clip of my uncle is awesome. It’s crazy to think that my uncle was on the biggest stage in tennis and playing some of the all time greats. It’s an awesome video and it just makes me wish I was around to be able to see him compete in person. My uncle coached me in my junior years, and he had a huge role in shaping the way I play today, so to be able to see how he used to play is really cool.

4) You went through a coaching change in college. How did you approach playing for someone other than the coach who recruited you?

Although I wasn’t recruited by him, coach Da Silva has been really great. From the first day he got to Louisville he established his culture and the vision he saw for our program. As far as my approach goes, nothing really changed. I’m a hard worker and I do my best to be responsible and disciplined regardless of the situation. I didn’t need to shift my attitude or effort just because we got a new coach, it was just about buying in to the goals that Coach set for the team and understanding the process that would get us there. Overall the team is very happy with where we are at and we are excited to keep improving and seeing how successful we can be.

5) You are excellent at singles and doubles. What do most players need to know about doubles that they don’t know/do?

Doubles is awesome, it’s one of the parts of tennis that I enjoy the most. In college, doubles is a crucial skill to have because the doubles point goes a long way in a dual match. Personally, I have always liked doubles, but my doubles skills improved tremendously when I got to college. In my opinion, a lot of junior players don’t play doubles the right way. With the state of tennis the way it is, there’s a huge focus on ripping heavy ground strokes from the baseline, but that’s not what doubles is about. To me, doubles is all about positioning and dominating the net. If you watch the pros play doubles, the team who controls the net wins the match the majority of the time. Doubles is definitely a dying game, less and less emphasis is put on doubles which I think is a shame. The skills needed to be successful in doubles translate directly to the singles court, which is why I think people (juniors especially) need to keep working on their doubles game as well as their singles game.

6) How do you balance the individual nature of a lot of tennis with the team environment of NCAA and even high school tennis?

College tennis is a very unique experience because as you mentioned, you are playing an individual sport in a team format. Ultimately, the team comes first. If it came down to the team winning or me winning, I would much rather the team win the overall match than me win my individual match. Once you get to college you can kind of forget about the “individual” side of tennis. Day in and day out, every thing you do is about the team. You practice to make your teammates better, and in turn you usually improve along the way. Everyone on the team plays an important role in some way, and it’s important to understand how each individuals attitude and effort contributes to the success of the team overall. Individualistic thinking won’t get you very far in college tennis, and it can be detrimental to a team.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s