Looking the Part

Oct. 2, 2010

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

– There’s something different about Guillermo Gomez, and it’s not difficult to see.

The man on a mission to become the winningest tennis player in Georgia Tech history looks the part.

Gomez and seven of his teammates will play in the D’Novo Men’s ITA All-American Tennis Championships at the University of Tulsa. He’s in great shape for it.

He made it to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament last spring, and was ranked as high as No. 3 nationally. He finished ranked No. 5, but the senior from Alicante, Spain, cut short his summer and returned to Atlanta to get in the best condition of his life.

“My conditioning is way better. [Fitness] always has been an issue for me,” said Gomez, who will begin play in the main draw on Thursday. “I have never been in very, very good shape. By the NCAAs [last spring] I was very worn out, not in good shape at all. I had cramping problems.

“Since many of our tournaments are on weekends, we have to play more than one match in a day so if you’re cramping in the first set, that’s bad timing because sometimes you have to play two, three-set matches. In the summer, I was 192 [pounds]. Right now, I’m around 170-176. I got down as low as 168.”

Add fitness to a mix that includes a slew of skills and strength of mind, and Gomez’s chances of closing the gap on Tech men’s coach Kenny Thorne’s school record for singles wins in a career (112) are improved. Gomez has won 91 matches, and the two-time ITA All-American and three-time member of the All-ACC Academic tennis team is ranked No. 4 in the nation.

Gomez (6-0) last week won the Southern Intercollegiate Championships title at the University of Georgia, beating the Bulldogs’ top player in the finale.

He’s on a roster that’s packing some heat this season.

All nine Yellow Jackets are back this season, and although earnest team competition is in the spring and the fall is more oriented around individual competition, Tech is in good stead.

Senior Eliot Potvin, ranked No. 70 nationally, and junior Kevin King, ranked No. 80, will be begin play in Tulsa Monday in the qualifying tournament. Senior Dean O’Brien is in the pre-qualifying bracket along with junior Dusan Miljevic and sophomores Juan Spir and Magin Ortiga. They begin play today.

“It was nice to get eight players into the All-American tournament,” Thorne said. “We have good depth, and the guys deserve a chance to play for an individual national title. It is a great test to see how we stack up.”

Tech’s doubles team of Potvin and senior Ryan Smith is ranked No. 43 nationally, King and Spir are No. 60 and they along with the tandem of Gomez and O’Brien will play at Tulsa as well. All will be in the doubles qualifying tournament.

Gomez said he’s better able to play the mental game of tennis now than previously because the fear of fatigue has been so greatly reduced. His playing weight last spring was in the 180s.

“I was taking a risk earlier [in points to avoid long points that cause fatigue],” he said. “That makes you miss more. Right now, instead of doing that, I can play longer points and make [opponents] tired. I’m comfortable with that now.

“I don’t think about what’s going to happen if I have a third set. I know if I have a long point, I’m going to recover quickly.”

The lone Jacket not making the trip to Tulsa, senior Miguel Miguruza, will be playing in the Georgia Tech Invitational this weekend. It will include players from 13 schools, including Georgia, and play will begin Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 7:50 a.m.

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