Both on and off the court, Gophers men’s tennis head coach Geoff Young instills a passion in his team.
Throughout his thirteen seasons at Minnesota, Young and the Gophers have made several appearances in the NCAA Tournament — including an unexpected trip to the Sweet Sixteen last season — and have won numerous academic and community service awards. Young's players say he strives to create well-rounded individuals.
“He really cares about the people on his team,” said senior Josip Krstanovic, “His priority is not to look for players who are extremely good at tennis but who are really good in character.”
The friendship players form with Young wills them to work hard and remain dedicated, said senior Justyn Levin
“He’s extremely easy to talk to,” Levin said. “We’re great buddies off the court and we get along really well.”
After losing two key seniors from last season, Felix Corwin and Matic Spec, returning players have an opportunity to capitalize this season. Young is constantly looking for the team to step up and create opportunities.
“Even if they didn’t leave, I’d always be looking for everyone on the team to try and learn and grow and get better from their experience at meets,” Young said.
Players such as sophomore Jackson Allen look to maintain the momentum from last year. Allen plans to build on his past individual and team success by beginning the season with confidence.
“We didn’t really believe in ourselves and, by the end of the season, we were really believing in ourselves and I think that showed in our results; we were beating some really good teams. Ending like that really opened our eyes to how good we can be and I think that gives us a lot of motivation going forward,” Allen said.
Young often pushes players outside of their comfort zones in order to build their comfort zones, Levin said. This gives players a sense of familiarity in numerous situations and helps prepare them for anything that is thrown their way.
Players hope to match Young’s intensity on the court this season.
“He is extremely passionate and I hopefully reciprocate that passion with my game,” said Levin.
The motivated and growth-focused environment Young aimed to create for his players is intended to get them excited for the season and in the winning mindset.
Each player is entering the season with an understanding of where he needs to improve.
“I need to be a better leader, leading by example especially and communicating — that’s one thing I struggle with. On the court it means competing harder, really pushing my teammates and myself to get as good as we can be,” Allen said.
Young and the Gophers are currently preparing for the first match of the spring season against DePaul University in January.