Cal Poly Men’s Tennis freshman Gary Vardanyan has made an immediate impact for the Mustangs. The Granada Hills native is undefeated in collegiate play, with a 4-0 record in singles play and a 3-0 record doubles play.
MN: How did you get into tennis?
GV: My dad was really into the sport when he came from Armenia. He was really fond of the sport and wanted me to get into it.
MN: What made you choose to come to Cal Poly?
GV: I really liked San Luis Obispo, the coaches and everyone were really great, and I knew all of the guys on the team so it just seemed like a really friendly atmosphere to come to.
MN: What was your goal when you started at Cal Poly?
GV: My goal for my first season at Cal Poly is to just continue to grow as a team, to just get as best as we can, play our best tennis, and hopefully win the Big West Championship.
MN: What team is going to be the toughest to beat in the conference?
GV: Santa Barbara has been a really tough team that we have been playing in the past couple years. I feel like we are close to them and there is definitely a way we can beat them.
MN: What has it been like being able to play with senior Dominic Bechard? What have you learned from him?
GV: I’ve learned a lot from Dom. We’re actually doubles partners. He’s just taught me a lot about the game of doubles. He’s such a natural at it. On the court and off the court, he’s taught me how to manage my time and it’s been a really good friendship to have with him. On the court, he’s just taught me how to move and when to move. Just the play calls he’s given are always spot on, so I’ve learned to read my opponents better.
MN: How has your bond and chemistry with Bechard play into your 3-0 doubles record so far this season?
GV: I think we have a pretty nice bond together in doubles. He understands how I play and I kind of understand how he plays. We just really go after it when we play. We play well together, yeah.
MN: With the success you’re having as a freshman do you feel like you’re flying under the radar or is it putting a target on your back?
GV: I feel like there’s definitely a target on my back from the older guys on the teams that we play against to try to beat me, but I just try to focus and not let that distract me and continue to do what I’m doing.
MN: What do you think the team need to do in general to get better?
GV: I think we need to come together as a team and just come across our weaknesses and try to work on them more in practice. I feel like we’ve been doing well, but there’s a lot of room to improve. For example, we can definitely work on the little aspects of our game that can help us improve a lot more in general.
MN: Who is your favorite tennis player? And how do you replicate your game after him/her?
GV: Rafael Nadal. Since I was younger, I would try to mimic him in anyway I could. I would use the same racket, try to use my headband the same way he would, and just try to style my game around him but my coaches would never let me. I just really like the way he plays, and I feel my game is still a little influenced by the way he plays.
MN: Do you have a specific pre-match routine?
GV: Not really. Listening to music just zones me out and gets me ready for my matches.
MN: How do you handle the pressure as a freshman?
GV: I’m just enjoying every moment of it and having fun. All my teammates help me out with getting ready for the season and playing well. Just a lot of good vibes from my teammates and I feel that’s playing a big role in how I’m doing?
MN: What’s one thing many people don’t know about you?
GV: That I’m Armenian. My parents both came from Armenia. I haven’t ever been to the country but I plan on going this summer and hopefully it will be a really nice trip.
MN: Next week you guys are going to play the University of San Francisco and Fresno State. Do you have any goals or expectations going into those games?
GV: I just want to go out, play well, and play as a team. We need to start off well in doubles and hopefully that will translate into the singles matches. Hopefully, we will get a good result.