Oct. 20, 2011
Last year was a major step forward for Kyle McMorrow, as he qualified for the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, and earned All-Pac-10 First Team accolades. Dedicated to have his junior season rise above those levels of success, McMorrow played almost non-stop tennis this summer, competing in six Futures level professional tournaments. In July, he advanced all the way to the quarterfinals of a tourney in Tulsa, picking up world rankings points. He also got a chance to play doubles with new UW freshman Emmett Egger. The two have the inside track on being Washington's top doubles team this season, and are the No. 1 seeds in the ITA Northwest Regionals which the Huskies host beginning on Friday. McMorrow talked about the grind of the pro tour, his efforts at this month's All-American Championships, and playing at home in this weekend's Regional tourney.
GoHuskies.com: So this summer you competed in four main draws at the Futures level?
Kyle McMorrow: "I played six tournaments, and in four out of the six I made main draw. It was a good experience, though honestly I was a little disappointed with the results. I was expecting a little more, but it was still good experience, every match I lost was really close. I only lost once in the main draws in straight sets, and that was 6-4, 7-6. They were all really close; had some tight three setters with some really good players, but just needed a few more shots here and there. It was disappointing because I picked up two rankings points in my first tournament, but then I didn't get any for the rest of the summer. It was still a good learning experience though and I still will have the next two summers to reassess where I'm at.
GH: What was your travel itinerary this summer?
KM: I went from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Godfrey, Illinois to Decatur, Illinois. I was planning on playing Edwardsville but decided to rest the body. Then to (Zacatecas), Mexico, and then played in a few men's opens in California in early September.
GH: Was the summer enjoyable or a bit of a grind?
KM: It was a grind. The places I went were not really site-seeing places, but it was good experience, it was all about the tennis when I was there. I didn't really do anything but play tennis. I got to spend some time with my friends who are playing the pro circuit as well. So that was good times.
GH: Emmett made a trip with you for doubles.
KM: Yeah, Emmett and I stayed together for two weeks in California and that was very fun.
GH: You must have known him fairly well before that?
KM: I've known him for years, not well, but for the last year and a half or so we have known each other well, practiced with each other. We have a few mutual friends from Sothern California that I have gotten to know down there.
GH: You guys have a good ranking at the start of the season, how are you coming together as a doubles team?
KM: I think we have a long way to go. Our games should complement each other well, but the chemistry hasn't quite gotten there yet. But we will have the next two years of playing pretty much every match together. I think it will get there, but it is still a learning process.
GH: Were there any surprises when you were playing those tournaments as far as the day-to-day procedures or are you pretty familiar with them at this point?
KM: No, I've been playing in them since I was 15. I'm doing better in them now than I ever have but as far as setup it's old news.
GH: Did you travel by yourself?
KM: It was week to week. I stayed with someone from the University of Miami for one week, stayed with a friend from Sothern California who I trained with another week. I had trouble renting a car one week and my dad had to fly out on a red eye to help me rent a car and get around that week. And in California, I could drive myself and I had arranged to stay with Emmitt.
GH: You had one really close match against Steve Johnson (falling 6-7, 6-4, 6-4), who was fantastic in college last year (NCAA Singles Champion, to be precise), and is doing well as a pro. Was that encouraging?
KM: I have always felt that I match up pretty well against Stevie. We grew up practicing together quite a bit; I played him in juniors and beat him once years ago. I didn't feel confident going into the match, but I felt I had a chance. Didn't play great, just solid, served pretty well, I don't think he played his best. There are parts of his game, that if you really pinpoint and attack them, he is beatable. I played him really close and had lots of chances. It still kind of hurts a little to talk about it because I had so many chances, but that's how he wins so many matches, by playing tough in the big points, and that's what he did.
GH: You did have to pull out of a few matches, is there anything lingering physically?
KM: Not really, it was just a lot of tennis built up and some minor injuries over the summer, which are inevitable. Overall I'm as healthy as I have ever been in years actually. The last two years I have struggled with my hip and my arm last year; right now I feel better than I ever have.
GH: Was there any part of your game this summer that you were most pleased with?
KM: I really was not very pleased with how I was playing this summer. I got pretty nervous in a lot of matches. Played kind of defensive and tight. I played great in practice, thought I improved a lot of my game, my service motion, getting my body more involved. My backhand, getting through the ball better, not having to slice as much. But in matches I got a little tight, started hitting shots off of my back foot and slicing my backhand too much, and pulling off of returns. Still managed to tough out of a lot of matches that were maybe closer than they should have been, but I really was not overly pleased with the way I played in most of my matches this summer. I kind of found my game a little bit starting in September, and I feel like every tournament I have played since then has gotten a little better. So I'm feeling very confident now.
GH: During those tournaments, are you in contact with Coach Anger very much?
KM: It depends, I tried to stay in touch with him, I'd say a good part of the matches I would have a chance to talk with him. We stayed in touch all summer, even though we didn't talk right after every match.
GH: Jumping back into the college season, at the All-American Championships, you had a great first victory (upsetting No. 7 Evan King of Michigan) followed by what was probably a frustrating defeat (three sets to USC's 16th-ranked Daniel Nguyen).
KM: It was a very strange day, because when you have those back to back matches, it goes in the blink of an eye. The first match, I played solid, the guy is a really good player and I knew I was going to have to play well to win. I was down in the first set, hung in there, and managed to squeak out the first set. He got a little annoyed with himself, kind of went away in the second set, but I was very happy to get the win. It should go a long way this season. The second match was really disappointing against Daniel; he is a great player, I had a ton of chances, and it's a match I feel I really should have won. He came out on top, he is a really good counter-puncher, has great feel, ran me a lot and adjusted his strategy in the second set. It was pretty disappointing after that, I almost didn't even remember that I had won a great match right before that. All I could think about the next morning was the loss.
GH: You have a Top-25 ranking for the first time, and got your first win over a Top-10 opponent, is that starting to feel like the norm for you now?
KM: College preseason rankings, I look at them but they don't mean anything to me. It's just this weird system that the ITA puts together that does not really make any sense, it is totally based on last year. I'm just focusing on improving my game, the wins will come, and I'm going to just try and use this season to improve myself as a player mentally and physically. And use it as a spring board to go play the pro circuit again next summer.
GH: This weekend you get to stay at home for Regionals, that has to be really nice for all of you guys, what are your biggest goals for this tournament?
KM: Obviously the goal is to win the tournament, but I am trying to focus a little more on the process rather than the result. Just play well, stay calm the whole time, and not let my emotions get the better of me, which has been a problem in the past. Go for my shots, play aggressive, keep the racket head speed going, go for all my shots, and if I can do all of those things the result will come.
GH: Do you think this will be a productive weekend you and Emmett as well in doubles?
KM: I hope so; it was a tough opener in Tulsa. We played a few pro tournaments together, but honestly pro circuit doubles is not at that high of a level. College doubles is quite a bit stronger. It will be good this week try to find our game and get the chemistry together.
GH: Moving forward with the rest of the season, are you looking forward to potentially playing in that number one spot?
KM: Yeah I am looking forward to it. That is still a ways off; I am still focusing on the Regionals for now, this weekend. Hopefully win this tournament and go to national indoors. That is a big goal. I am actually going to go to Mexico after our fall season is over to play a few pro tournaments, just by myself, just focusing on that for now. A lot of stuff before the dual season starts, so it is kind of in the back of my mind.
GH: How have you managed balancing your class load with a heavy tennis schedule? Have you settled on a major yet?
KM: I have applied to the communications major, haven't gotten a response yet, but I think I will be accepted. I'm in two online classes, and only one lecture that I have to go to, so I have quite a bit of free time. Everything has been great with school; not planning to go to grad school, but my GPA has stayed pretty solid, stayed over a 3.0 for my career so far. If I can keep it around there that would be great.
GH: And a new year typically brings new rooming arrangements. Are you with any of the guys this season?
KM: Last year I was with four other guys, but this year I'm by myself in a one bedroom. It is very relaxing, has been really good so far.