Q & A With Derek Drabble

Jan. 28, 2010

As the only senior and captain of the Husky men's tennis team, Derek Drabble certainly wants to make his last year his best yet. All early returns have been positive for the Johannesburg, South Africa native, as he leads the team with a 12-3 singles record dating back to the fall and has gone 4-0 in dual matches thus far, matching Washington's 4-0 start. The senior talks to GoHuskies about his goals for the year, his affinity for doubles, and the excitement in his home country surrounding the World Cup.

GoHuskies.com: Being the only senior on the team, do you feel it is important to be a leader and a mentor for the younger players?
Derek Drabble:
Yeah definitely. The biggest thing for me is to lead by example and set the standard for the other guys. It is a big responsibility. It is something that is appropriate for me. Being a senior... It is my last one so I want to go out with a bang and have the best year possible. Part of that is making sure the other guys are doing what they need to do in order for us to be a rough team and me doing well out there.

GH: What kind of advice have you given them?
The biggest thing is to not get caught up in the winning and losing. Obviously that is important, but the main thing I want is guys improving and focusing on what they need to do. We have a great coaching staff and each individual has their certain things to work on. As long as they are getting better with that, by the time NCAA comes in May, I know that we will be a rough team. Guys get caught up with the winning and losing and they can kind of lose their direction and improve as much as they should be.

GH: Do you have any senior year goals?
I'd love to make it to the NCAAs. It has been 15 years in a row that the tennis team has made it to the regionals, but they have never made it past the Round of 16. My goal this year is to make it past there and get to the Elite Eight. That is our goal. Obviously we want to win it, but definitely get past the Round of Sixteen.

GH: In doubles do you feel like you have unfinished business because you fell short of the NCAA doubles tournament last year?
Definitely, doubles has probably been working out the best for me. I've been playing the best ever. It's just been unfortunate (timing). When preseason rankings came out (Martin Kildahl and I) were ranked 11th. Unfortunately he suffered an injury and had surgery. He's been out awhile and just started playing. He's making a speedy recovery which is awesome. (Against Portland) we beat a team ranked 32nd in the nation. There's definitely unfinished business and we want to get out there and make the NCAAs this year. If we keep doing what we need to, we will be a tough team and there is no reason why we can't win it.

GH: With Martin being back, do you feel like your chemistry is coming back?
Yes, it's been tough for Martin obviously. He was playing high level tennis by the end of the season last year at the NCAAs and with an injury, being out for a couple of months has been tough for him. He's been improving and (the Portland win) was awesome. Beating a tougher team has given him more confidence and he is more excited about it now. I think that he is going to be making a huge improvement from here. That is giving him a lot of confidence which is what we needed.

GH: Do you approach doubles much differently than singles?
I don't know. The thing that helps me in the doubles is you're playing with someone and sharing those emotions whether it is the nerves, pressure, or excitement. You have somebody to share that with. That kind of relaxes me a lot and helps me. In singles, you do not have that person there to talk to and get things off your mind. It is just another point of view in certain situations. With the doubles, it is just the chemistry I have with Martin and us understanding each other well. We really bring out the best in each other. Whereas singles you don't really have that. You have to be figuring it out all yourself.

GH: Your bio points out that you're a big rugby fan and played in high school. Is there anything that you took away from rugby that you use in tennis?
Keep fighting hard. With tennis there is no real physical pain. I think it is more mentally challenging than rugby where rugby is more physical. The thing for me to take away is to keep fighting. No matter how bad a guy gets you down, or beats you down, keep getting up and keep finding a way.

GH: Have you ever had any thoughts about playing football?
I kind of sometimes think about it. Obviously a lot different from rugby, but I enjoy the contact sports. If it wasn't so conflicting with tennis, I would definitely like to get out there and play a little. It seems really fun.

GH: Are you a soccer fan at all?
Not as much as a rugby or cricket fan. I know that we have the soccer World Cup coming up soon in South Africa. I am super excited about it. I will definitely be getting into it. I don't watch it as much as the European guys on our team. With it being at home I will definitely be going and watching a few games this summer.

GH: How big is the World Cup going to be?
It is going to be huge. Everyone is really excited. It's good for our country, good for the economy, and good for tourism. Right now it is just big hype back there. It has helped us in a sense that it has developed roads, stadiums, and an airport. Industrially it has been really good for us. It created a lot of job opportunities. As a whole it has been awesome. I just hope the South African soccer team can do well and give the fans something to shout about.

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