Q&A with Sophomore Irina Falconi

Dec. 15, 2009

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Georgia Tech sophomore Irina Falconi represented the United States in the fourth annual Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate competition from December 9-14 in Poitiers, France. The event featured eight teams composed of college and university players from around the world.

Falconi and the U.S. national team took top honors at the event. The Yellow Jackets standout finished 3-0 in singles and 2-0 in doubles.

Falconi, who was joined by Kristy Frilling of Notre Dame and Caitlin Whoriskey of Tennessee on the women’s team, sat down with RamblinWreck.com to discuss her experience and more.

What was it like to have the opportunity to represent the United States in an international team tournament?

“There’s honestly no better feeling than to play for a team. Sure, you should always play for yourself, but the team dynamic and the team atmosphere is indescribable. I’d never been in a situation where I could represent my country, so the opportunity was truly an honor. To be surrounded with players that all wanted the win, and with coaches that had the utmost belief for us, I mean, it was definitely a remarkable experience.”

What was the most interesting thing you saw while you were in France?

“I’m going to have to go with the Eiffel Tower. We all agreed from the beginning that we had to see the Eiffel Tower even if it meant no sleep on the last night of the trip. When we got there, I couldn’t believe how big the structure was. We weren’t able to climb to the top but the light show was truly a spectacle.”

When did it hit you on your trip that you were actually representing your country in this kind of tournament?

“It hit me once Coach Michelle Dasso handed us our clothing that had `USA’ written all over it. The feeling you get when you’re wearing your country is surreal —takes a while to get used to.”

What kind of interaction did you have with other members of Team USA at the event?

“Well, before this event, I didn’t really know any of the players all that much, but I had many opportunities to hang out and to really get to know each one of the team members individually. The most interaction was obviously at the courts. Whenever someone or a few of us were playing, the rest of the team was on the sidelines cheering on like crazy which really allowed us to share the experience. There definitely was a lot of interaction whenever we were in the car as well due to the fact that it took some time to get from place to place which meant the girls had the opportunity to hear the guys sing a couple of songs. I think that the most interaction we got though was when Coach Patton got us together and asked us what we liked about each other and what we respected from one another. It definitely was a great exercise for us to get out of our comfort zones, and to really be honest about what we felt. “

What was the best and worst foods did you eat in France?

“The best food I had in France would definitely have to be the green beans that we had for lunch the second day of play. The worst food I had would have to be this cold cut meat that looked like cooked steak, but tasted like pure raw meat. It was very unappetizing to say the least.”

If you had the opportunity, would you like to participate in another event like the Master’U?

“Absolutely. After having a first experience like that, there’s no doubt in my mind. Especially with the fact that we won it being my first time on a USA team, and my first time in Europe, I wouldn’t think twice about participating in a similar event.”

Now that you have officially closed out your fall season, what do you need to do to prepare for the spring?

“Well, the most important thing for me right now is just maintenance. I am going to definitely take a few days off from tennis for a little down time but once I’m done with my active rest I’ll be back on task. I’ll be going to Boca Raton for a few days in the beginning of January for a USTA National Training Camp where I’ll have the opportunity to train and play against nationally-ranked junior and college players, so that will be a good warm up to start off the year and really catapult me into the spring season mindset. “

How did you do in school this fall?

“This semester was a tough with having sixteen credit hours, and being away from school for almost a month due to tournaments but I ended really well. All of my teachers were understanding and really helped me get back on track whenever I fell behind.”

US Team Results from 2009 Master’U BNP Paribas

Quarterfinals
USA 7, Switzerland 0
Irina Falconi (USA) def. Milica Tomic (SUI) 6-0, 6-0
Caitlin Whoriskey (USA) def. Sarah Frey (SUI) 6-1, 6-0
Austin Krajicek (USA) def. Patrick Fischer (SUI) 7-6, 6-2
Eric Quigley (USA) def. Thomas Petrich (SUI) 6-2, 6-1
Kristy Frilling/Whoriskey (USA) def. Tomic/Frey (SUI) 6-2, 6-1

Semifinals
USA 5, Great Britain 1
Falconi (USA) def. Claire Ricketts (GB) 6-3, 6-3
Frilling (USA) def. Annabel Bann (GB) 6-3, 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) def. Richard Irwin (GB) 6-2, 6-7, 6-4
Quigley (USA) def. Keith Meisner (GB) 6-3, 6-3
Whoriskey/Falconi (USA) def. Ricketts/Birney (GB) 9-8
Brassington/Meiser (GB) def. Johnson/Krajicek (USA) 8-4

Final
USA 4, France 3
Falconi (USA) def. Nathalie Piquion (France) 6-2, 6-2
Manon Garcia (France) def. Whoriskey (USA) 7-6, 6-4
Dorian Descloix (France) def. Johnson (USA) 6-2, 6-7, 7-6
Maxime Quinqueneau (France) def. Krajicek (USA) 7-6, 6-3
Falconi/Whoriskey (USA) def. Garcia/Fracassi (France) 6-3, 6-2
Johnson/Krajicek (USA) def. Descloiz/Rousset (France) 6-4, 6-4
Frilling/Quigley (USA) def. Piquion/Quinqueneau (France) 6-4, 6-2

Thanks Irina! We will catch up with you after the New Year.

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