Gabriel DeCampsUT: What has been your career highlight so far? College highlight? GDC: I won a lot of important tournaments, was ranked 17 in the world in Juniors and had some good ATP wins - I beat a guy that was 390 in the world. I work really hard, but I still need to improve a lot to be where I want to be. Day by day, I try to work even harder. This season, I started really well and played some good matches, but I lost two matches because I was nervous and didn’t play so well, which is normal. It’s completely different to play college matches - it’s really loud and everyone is cheering so it’s a little harder to focus on the match. Our team is working hard and we’re expecting to have a really good season. We are playing against Michigan for college match day and we need to mentally prepare, which is what I’m really focused on. UT: What type of adjustment has it been for you to play at the college level? GDC: There are no ADs and we play doubles first, which is sometimes weird since I’m not used to that yet. And then after doubles, we go straight into singles. We also play lets, which is another thing that’s different! Not playing AD points and playing lets adds a lot more pressure to the game and is something I’m getting used to. UT: What tournaments are you most looking forward to playing this year? GDC: I’m looking forward to every match, but am really excited to play Michigan, since they are ranked in the top-15 so it will be a hard match. We played University of Florida, who is ranked in the top-10 in our first match and we did a good job, so we are pumped to play another big match and win! We want to show everyone that we are here to win and not to joke and that we have the potential to beat anyone in the US. We know it we can do it - we have had to mentally prepare and just go out there and do it.
"Getting an education is important for me because you never know what the future holds."UT: You’ve have had a lot of success playing in juniors and futures. Why did you decide to compete at the college level? GDC: Getting an education is important for me because you never know what the future holds. It was a really tough decision, but at the end of the day, tennis is a game and there are other parts of life that are important - like studying! The level we play here is really high and really tough - every match and practice I play a guy that’s playing top level, so that makes me push to my limits and improve every day. It’s also nice being on a team; as teammates, we push each other to get better. Even though tennis is an individual sport, pushing each other as teammates is huge for everyone to get better. UT: How are you balancing playing college and futures? GDC: This year, we didn’t play too many futures because there’s a lot of college matches. We can play futures in the fall which is nice because we can improve and also try to get ATP points. It’s a good thing that we can play in the fall and improve physically, mentally and technically and then you’re ready for January where you compete in really hard dual matches. Actually, now the season really starts - we played six matches already but we are getting into some of our tougher and important matches now. And then in the summer, we have the opportunity to play futures. It’s a good balance so you’re playing high-level tennis all year round. UT: What tips would you give to a player going out for college tennis? Or deciding between college and futures? GDC: It’s a tough decision, but you have to think about your future and not just tomorrow. To be a professional tennis player, you need a lot of money and time to get to the top level. And you never know - something can happen! Deciding to go to college, from my perspective, is better because you have the time to work, mature and play a lot of high-quality matches, which helps you prepare mentally to play on the tour. And another part is education - it’s important to have a degree to be prepared for the future. UT: What’s a day in the life of a UCF Knights tennis player like? GDC: I wake up at 6:30, head to practice at 8 and then from 8 - 11:15 we are on the court. At 11:45, we do weights or running. In the afternoon we have some individual practice, about 45 min to an hour. Then the rest of the day we go to class and study. UT: How do you use UTR? How do you see it affecting/improving the game? GDC: Our coach really looks at UTR, and we use it to set our goals. My goal is to have a UTR of 15. It’s a good tool because you can see your level. It motivates you to have a higher UTR to beat top players and a mindset to keep improving. Lightning Round What’s your killer shot? Forehand Singles or doubles? Singles Forehand or backhand? Forehand Favorite tennis player? That’s tough one...Rafa Favorite tournament? French Open Clay or hard? I like both! Racket? Head Pro Radical Favorite school swag? Polo, a UCF hat, and jeans Best nutrition advice? Eat healthy every day, of course, a lot of salads, fruits, veggies, rice, and pasta. And drink a lot of water! Best training advice? Stretch every day and stay mentally tough every practice.