Q & A with Reigning NCAA Singles Champion Susie Babos

Feb. 20, 2007

BERKELEY - Last May, junior Susie Babos became the first Cal player to win the NCAA women's singles title, and is currently ranked third in the ITA singles rankings. Babos and senior Zsuzsanna Fodor are currently ranked second in the ITA doubles rankings. Babos, who was named to the 2006 ITA All-Star team, sat down with CalBears.com before last weekend's big wins over UCLA and USC to discuss this season and the impact of winning an NCAA title.

CalBears.com: What are your thoughts on the way this season is going so far?

Babos: 'I think the team has done okay so far. We have to realize that the big challenges of the season are yet to come. We just started a long journey, the toughest and the best still awaits us.'

CalBears.com: After winning a national championship, what new goals do you set for yourself to take your game to the next level?

Babos: 'To keep myself engaged in practice, I'm always looking for something to work on, which is not too hard because a lot of areas of my game need improvement. As of now, I'm trying to add a new shot to my game, which could be a potential weapon. Because I'm a junior this year, many of my opponents already know my patterns, thus I have to figure out new ways of constructing my points to set up my weapons. Moreover, I have been working a lot on my doubles skills lately, and I'm expecting a great season for the two of us, Zsuzsanna Fodor and myself, in doubles. I have done it once (winning NCAA titles), why not win a couple of other ones?'

CalBears.com: Has this season been any different coming into it as a national champion?

Babos: 'Definitely. I have a huge target on my back at all times no matter where and who I play. Every opponent I play is trying to take a shot at me right now, which puts me under tremendous pressure, but is fun at the same time. Every time I walk out on the court, I carry myself in a way that I never did before. Knowing that I'm the reigning NCAA champion gives me great confidence and pride. I would not mind having this feeling next year, too.'

Calbears.com: How would your teammates describe you?

Babos: 'They would probably say that I'm very straightforward because I do not let people get away with stuff that bothers me. Criticism might seem pretty harsh sometimes, but if I believe that it will help the other person improve, I will say it even if it seems mean. My teammates always say that I'm a mean European player on-court because when I play my best, my attitude becomes a `take no prisoners' one, which intimidates not only my opponents, but also my teammates.'

CalBears.com: What are your plans for after college?

Babos: 'I would love to go to grad school and study law or advertising. However, I'm still debating whether to pursue a pro carrer in tennis. But no matter what I do, one thing is for sure - I will miss college a lot.'

CalBears.com: What do you like to do off the court?

Babos: 'I like to keep myself busy, so I always take classes that challenge me intellectually. I keep in touch with my family and friends from home, as well. I often hang out with the tennis girls too, since we became very close in the past three years and I know that I can always rely on them, no matter what, which I appreciate a lot. When I'm at home (in Hungary), I usually stay away from the courts for a couple of weeks because I need time to relax and reload my batteries.'

CalBears.com: Who was your favorite athlete growing up and why?

Babos: 'My favorite athlete when I was growing up was my Dad. He has been my coach for a long time. In fact, I was never coached by anyone else but him before coming to Cal. I adored him for his competitive spirit; he was my childhood hero. He always fought until the last point was over. He hated losing more than he loved winning, which made him a great champion not only in my eyes, but in everyone else's eyes.'

CalBears.com: If you could give one piece of advice to somebody just starting to play tennis what would it be?

Babos: 'Play until you have fun. My favorite quote is: `Winners never quit, quitters never win.''

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