Senior Conor Pollock of San Antonio, Texas, is one of the most decorated tennis players in Texas A&M history. The All-American right-hander, who has served as the Aggies team captain for the last two years, earned All-Big 12 Conference honors in singles in both 2007 and 2008 and was selected all-conference in doubles last year, as well. In addition, he and doubles partner Austin Krajecik became the first players in school history to reach the NCAA doubles semifinals in 2008.
Senior Conor Pollock
© Glen Johnson
Ranked 17th in singles and seventh in doubles in the latest college rankings, Pollock will be competing in both singles and doubles at the upcoming 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Championships, which will be held May 14-25 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas. He recently took time from his busy schedule to answer some questions for USTA.com.
USTA.com: You and your team had a great second half of the season – at one point putting together a seven-match winning streak. What were the highlights?
Conor Pollock: There were many. I think the three most memorable matches were against Illinois, USC and Texas. We were tied 3-3 to Illinois, and the final match came down to Collin Hoover at line six singles. He was down 5-1, 40-15 in the third set and came all the way back to win 7-6. It was an unbelievable effort and moment for us. Also, clinching the matches to win 4-3 against UT and USC were pretty special.
USTA.com: This season, you are the lone senior on the team. How has your role evolved? Has it been difficult assuming a leadership role?
Conor Pollock: Well, I came into college at 17 years old, so I definitely looked up to a lot of the guys on the team. I have since matured a great deal, both on and off the court. Now that I am the only senior and captain of the team, I feel like I have taken on much more of a leadership role. With the group of guys we have, it really hasn’t been difficult. We all have the same goals and are willing to work to achieve them.
USTA.com: You have two great coaches in Head Coach Steve Denton and Associate Head Coach Bob McKinley. What have you learned from each of them?
Conor Pollock: We are really lucky to have such an unbelievable coaching staff, and I have definitely learned a lot from both of them. Steve is never afraid to tell you how it is and has a very hands-on style of coaching. It took some getting used to, but his guidance has helped me mature into a much smarter tennis player. Bob has a more laid-back approach but no less effective. He doesn’t say much, but his coaching is always right on the money. Their tennis experience is truly amazing, and I doubt you could find a better coaching tandem in the country.
USTA.com: It’s got to be pretty exciting that Texas A&M is hosting the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Championships your senior year. If you can advance through the regional to the Sweet 16, do you think you have an advantage? Does home-court advantage add to the pressure or to the excitement for you and your teammates?
Conor Pollock: I think it would be a huge advantage. We are very comfortable on our courts and have only lost one match here all year. Our fans are also second to none, so I think we are going to be a difficult out if we advance past our regional.
USTA.com: Heading into NCAAs, what are your goals for yourself and for your team?
Conor Pollock: The biggest goal is to be at the top of our game for the most important stretch of the season and put ourselves in the best position to win. If we prepare properly and don’t hold anything back during the match, anything is possible for both this team and the individual tournament.
USTA.com: As a student-athlete, you don’t have a lot of free time, but when you get it, what do you like to do?
Conor Pollock: I like to relax. When you are as busy as I am with school and tennis, you really appreciate the down time when you can catch your breath. Sleeping in, catching a movie or going out with friends is always a nice change of pace with my busy schedule.
USTA.com: What’s the best thing about college tennis and about Texas A&M?
Conor Pollock: The best thing about college tennis for me is the team aspect of competition. Tennis is an individual sport, so being able to play for a group of guys is very special. The best thing about A&M has got to be the spirit of the school. Over the last four years, this place has really grown on me. I have never been anywhere like it, and it has definitely helped shape me over the past four years.
USTA.com: Any aspirations to play professionally once this season is over?
Conor Pollock: I am going to play full time after NCAAs. It has always been a dream of mine to play professional tennis, and I feel like college has helped prepare me for that. I am really excited about giving it a shot and curious to see how it goes.
USTA.com: According to the Texas A&M official website, you are majoring in finance. What do you hope to do with it once your tennis career is done?
Conor Pollock: I haven’t decided. I love the sport of tennis and have thought about going into college coaching. I have also thought about going to law school. Right now, I am going to take it one step at a time and see how the tour treats me for awhile.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Conor Pollock: I would advise them to take their time. Choosing a college is an important decision, and it is imperative to take into account all of the variables. Also, if you have the opportunity, take all of your recruiting visits. They are free and usually pretty fun.