Feb. 20, 2012
Having already gotten to know freshman Julija Lukac, GoHuskies.com now talked with her roommate, freshman Capucine Gregoire. She came to Washington from Sevres, France, a town just outside of Paris. Gregoire twice won Paris city junior championships and was consistently ranked in the top-15 junior French players in her age group. Gregoire has settled into the middle of the UW singles lineup, where she has won five straight matches. She talked to GoHuskies about making the transition to Seattle, overcoming a fear of hard courts, and about Paris being much more than just the Eiffel Tower.
GoHuskies.com: It seems like this group of freshmen has meshed pretty well together?
Capucine Gregoire: It was pretty tight when we came. Things were really good with each other, very natural. And from the beginning I was with Julija, she is my roommate. And then, over time we really became friends.
GH: What were your expectations like for moving here and what were some of the surprises?
CG: I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't expect it to be that hard. There are so many changes made at the same time, from family to friends, practicing a lot because I'm not that used to practicing that much. The morning workouts were really hard. In my English class there is one paper every week, which is really hard, I get a lot of help from my teammates and coaches, which is good. It was hard sometimes because I'm not that used to being that far away from my family.
GH: Does this quarter feel easier?
CG: Not really, being that far away. I feel better, because I'm used to everything, but I still miss my home and my friends a lot. And I feel better especially in the tennis part because I now really know what the coaches expect from me and as a team we are getting better. Riko came and that was really good for us I feel like.
GH: Are you from a big family?
CG: I have two sisters, one older. I'm just 17 so sometimes I'm feeling a little bit too young but I still really enjoy it here.
GH: Did either of your sisters play tennis?
CG: Not really (laughs). One is enough.
GH: When did you first start playing tennis?
CG: When I was four or five.
GH: When did it first become something that you thought could take you to the US to play in college?
CG: I had a friend that I was practicing with and her older brother was at UCLA at that time. He was a top French player, and that is when I heard about college. I was 12 or 13. Both my parents really wanted me to study and to get a good degree. They always talked about college for me, I thought it would be a great thing for me. I felt like when I finished high school that I couldn't stop tennis and that I couldn't stop studying. So I thought college was the best for me.
GH: How did you first contact Jill?
CG: I have a friend who used to be at Cal and she was with (former UW assistant coach) Damon (Coupe) at that time and that is how I got in touch with Damon.
GH: Did you feel like UW was the right choice early on?
CG: I tried starting to look at colleges early. I came in February on my visit and looked at three schools: Minnesota, here, and Cal, and then I chose two weeks after.
GH: What do you want to study? Economics?
CG: Yes, I would like to.
GH: How much improvement have you seen in yourself?
CG: I think I've gotten much stronger than I was before physically. I have gotten more consistent than when I arrived. I feel like when I arrived I could play good but not for a long time because I was not really tough enough to last, but now I can do three sets without being exhausted at the end. It is really nice to feel strong and like you can last forever. I feel like I've really improved; it's hard to say though. Everything is really different from France, like the playing style. I always try to compare, because we have a national ranking, and I was trying to compare what would (a college opponent) be in France, but it is impossible to say because the styles are different.
GH: Do you only play on clay courts over there?
CG: Yeah I always play on clay, that was a big change also when I arrived. That is why I thought I didn't want to go to college because of that at first, because I didn't want to play on hard courts. But I realized that was stupid (laughs). It was just in my head that I couldn't play (on hard courts). I would play a tournament and I would be just horrible, and need to get back on clay, because it was in my head. But when I went back home over Christmas I would only play on hard courts, so it is not that bad anymore.
GH: Did you have to change your movements; no more sliding?
CG: I still slide, a little bit. But these courts are not real fast so it's fine.
GH: Can you describe your hometown a little bit?
CG: It is ten minutes to Paris. It's a really small city. Because I went to high school in Paris, there wasn't much in my town and I really spent all of my time in Paris with my friends. So I just feel (Sevres) is somewhere to sleep really. And my tennis club was in Paris also.
GH: Paris is obviously a city that everyone wants to visit at some point in their lives. Do you have a lot of hometown pride? Did you feel like it was a pretty amazing place to live?
CG: (laughs) Yeah, I always get in trouble with the girls; they say that I am too proud of being from Paris. But yeah it is a really nice city and I am always amazed when I go, because I don't know every part because it's so big, but when you just walk even after a thousand times you just think it's still really beautiful. There is so much to see. It is not only the Eifel Tower, there is so much more better (laughs). I actually don't really like the Eiffel Tower, it's too much of a cliché.
GH: You played your first home match last weekend, and get to spend some weeks at home now.
CG: It is going to be nice; I think I had a lot of pressure last week (against Sacramento State). I didn't know if I would play, because I was a little bit injured. I didn't really practice, and had to play without practicing. I didn't play my best tennis but it was good enough to win my singles.
GH: You've had a couple matches where you won a big first set, lost a close second but then won big in the third.
CG: I always start really strong. The first set is just tennis; the second set is always harder for me. But I'm happy that I reacted strongly in the third set. I think it is a good thing, because a couple months ago I would maybe lose it, so I am really happy that I can refocus. You really feel good when you win, just to help the team, and every win is important.
GH: Did you play a lot of doubles in juniors?
CG: Not really, I played doubles four times a year maybe. And I never practiced doubled in my life. But I think I am enjoying doubles more, and I feel like my volleys are improving a little bit, so that's nice. It is a lot more pressure for me, because I didn't play doubles in the past, so I don't have the confidence that I do in singles, but I think it's getting better.
GH: Jill has said that you are a very fiery player on court, and there might have been a little bit of frustration in that Sacramento State match. Talk about your intensity on the court.
CG: I can get real mad very quickly which is not really good. I can do some stupid things like throwing my racquet, or throwing balls, and because the NCAA is so strict you get a point penalty. Which is really bad, and I am sorry about that (laughs). I think sometimes I have a little too much in my head that I get so mad and lose control of my emotions for a couple of games. I really need to work on that because it made me lose a few important games.
GH: How do you like the city?
CG: Yeah, I like it. Well I don't really have a lot of time besides homework and practice, because we have early practice and I am really tired at night. But I enjoy it here, even though last quarter I didn't really do a lot. I'm excited to see more about Seattle and I've heard it's really nice in the summer.
GH: Talk about the matches this weekend against Portland (Washington won 7-0) and Texas A&M (Washington lost, 4-3, though Capucine won both days).
CG: Every match is difficult. I'm a freshman so I don't really realize when we play a difficult team. I think every weekend if we continue improving that would be great. I feel like we had a nice start and every girl can win big matches. When I play I feel like there are five other girls that are really strong too. So it's not like I have pressure to win because every player is really good. And we have Dy who is an amazing player; I think her average match is 1 hour or less (laughs).