I read In Dawgged Pursuit a few weeks ago and was eager to post something on it, but couldn't find the interview on the actual website. If you're a USTA member in the Atlanta area, you probably have already had the pleasure of reading it in print. I doubt if it made the other regional issues of Inside Tennis, but after reading it a second time...I sure hope so.
Manny Diaz is not just a great coach and leader, but a true ambassador for the University of Georgia. I don't know how many tennis fans I serve here, but all Dawg fans can easily become Diaz fans. I've included some excerpts from the interview below, but you should check it out in its entirety.
InsideTennis: The history and fanfare of Wimbledon is great. Roland Garros has Paris, and the U.S. Open is an event like no other. But there’s nothing quite like an NCAA team final — six matches going on at the same time, fans yelling. What makes the atmosphere so special?
Manny Diaz: You’ve got kids playing with such heart, such enthusiasm. You can pick a match to watch from the six that are going on. Three doubles matches. You see great variety. It’s a little more “rah-rah.” It’s a zoo. It’s a jungle. It’s that kind of passion for the game that you see in college matches.
IT: For those who haven’t experienced May Madness on the Georgia campus before, how would you describe it?
MD: Our crowds were really, really rowdy when we started hosting the NCAAs. We hosted them now for 25, 27 years in the past 30 years. In the beginning, our crowd was basically a football crowd — the Deep South in the early ‘70s. But the more we hosted it, the more our fans became tennis fans, the more they became educated from just wild, football fans to being more informed. While our fans are right now many in numbers — we’ve got over 6,000 fans out there for the NCAA Championships — our fans are much more educated and tennis savvy than they used to be.
If you’ve never been to an NCAA tennis match, check one out this spring at Dan Magill Tennis Complex. It’s nothing like what you see on television as you watch Wimbledon or the US Open. The atmosphere is electric, an organized rowdiness that is closer to Saturdays in the fall than it is a fortnight in London.
And this interview with Coach Diaz really paints the picture. The excerpt above barely scratches the surface Reader. Diaz goes on to make any Dawg fan proud with the way he talks about Athens and the University of Georgia. He also analyzes John Isner’s rise in the ATP rankings…and gives Inside Tennis his all-time Georgia lineup.
Some related links:
- the 2010 NCAA Tennis Championship homepage