Cavalier Corner

April 2012

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a certain extent not knowing what I wanted to do in college. I got so far along in finance and was doing so well that I figured it was best to finish that degree. "More than anything it was centered around teaching. I wanted to teach and quickly became aware that coaching ten- nis was teaching. I've had the best of both worlds. I can coach the kids, and every day that you're teaching them you share with them new ideas and ways to improve and develop their skills. "It became apparent that tennis was go- ing to be a part [of my career] and coaching would be the avenue. But I didn't know it would be in college. I knew I would be fortunate if I could share what I'd learned with a group." The "sharing" began in 1992 when he was named an assistant women's tennis coach at Georgia. During his five seasons with the Bull- dogs, the team won the 1994 NCAA cham- pionship and the 1995 ITA National Team Indoor Championships, and was ranked fifth nationally each of those years. Those five years proved to be invaluable. "Georgia was a national contender in men's and women's tennis," Guilbeau said. "The head [women's] coach, Jeff Wallace, empowered me greatly. He let me run prac- tices and recruit and work with budgets. "I think I gave back to him. I was mo- tivated for that age. It was everything you would want in terms of helping you develop as a coach." Then, Guilbeau really started to blossom as a coach when he took over at Kentucky. "I can't even remember thinking about encountering a speed bump or a barrier be- cause of the passion I had [for coaching]," he said. "I had great experience as a young- ster. I was so fired up about this career that everything felt like an opportunity. "What those kids gave me was incred- ible. They afforded me the opportunity to become a good coach. We accelerated and became a fine program. It was something to see the power of a group. Sure, there were hard days and long hours. Everyone had their ups and downs. But it was an opportu- nity to move forward." That's exactly what happened. *** One thing Guilbeau seldom experienced at Georgia and Kentucky was losing (i.e. the Wildcats were 12-13 in his first season with the team, in 1997). But at UVa, the Cavaliers were 12-12 in 2007 and 10-13 the following season. It wasn't the best of times for Guilbeau. "There was a stretch where I asked my- self, 'Is this the right situation?'" he said. "It was stressful and frustrating. You felt for the kids who were getting overwhelmed by a culture that wasn't great. "It wasn't a matter of stepping away. But that question comes up even when you have great days. You ask, 'How can we make this better, and are we doing things the best we can?' I'm proud that some great student- athletes have come through here, plus [as- sistant coach] Roy Porko has helped us get through some challenging times." That being said, Guilbeau has derived sat- isfaction during his tenure at Virginia from the smallest detail. "It can be one simple moment and they've reproduced it," he said. "It can be one sim- ple moment even in practice where a stu- dent-athlete does something that she didn't have confidence in. "You see them persevere and execute. You see the execution and success. There can be one shot where a kid has really worked hard on improving and it can bring such a thrill and energy. "That, to me, is the most fulfilling. We're setting some new standards for the pro- gram. But the individual moments mean a lot along when the team gets to celebrate success." Given the way the Cavaliers have climbed back up the ladder to rank among the na- tion's elite teams, celebrating success has become the rule rather than the exception. ◆ Fourth-year Emily Fraser opened the 2012 campaign with a national singles ranking of No. 29 — tops among a school-record six Cavaliers that were listed on the ITA's pre- season list — and was No. 17 as of Feb. 28. PHOTO BY MATT RILEY/COURTESY UVA APRIL 2012 ◆ 15

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