Will Reynolds is living his dream as the voluntary assistant coach for the men’s tennis team. The 2012 UGA graduate and former member of the men’s tennis team is in his second season on the coaching staff. After helping guide the team to an outright SEC regular-season title, Reynolds turns his focus to the NCAA tournament, which begins this Saturday in Athens. Reynolds spoke recently about the team’s preparation for the NCAA tournament, his career path and what it is like to work alongside legendary coach Manny Diaz.

(This interview has been edited for clarity.)

Q: What does it mean to you being able to come back and work at UGA and work for your alma mater?

A: Gosh, it means the world. This is also one of the things that wasn’t really part of the plan because I had stepped away and I was doing operations for the women’s team. That was my second stint with the women’s program. I stepped away from that in July 2021 and September rolled around and Manny called and said, ‘I know you’ve got a job and a family, but if you could help us out, just you know, talk it over with your wife and see what you think.’ It was again hard to say no and it’s been an incredible experience. I grew up a Georgia fan. It’s just been a real privilege for me to coach here.

Q: Now that you’ve been working with the men’s team, this is your second season back, what has changed with the team from when you were on the athlete side playing in college versus now?

A: I guess the first thing I will say is that it hasn’t. I will say that I played for Manny [Diaz] over 10 years ago now, and I think he’s the same guy you know, he’s the same coach, which is great. It’s like the guy that the players on the team see now is who I got to experience and play under. If you play for Manny, you’re better for it. I think the dynamics are maybe not much different.. I think the student-athlete experience has changed a little bit. Part of that is obviously COVID. Part of that’s resources, obviously a lot more resources are made available to student-athletes, which is a good thing.

Q: I know that you came to college here and you played tennis, but how long have you been playing?

A: So I started playing tennis when I was 9 and I’m 32, so 23 years now.

Q: What drew you to the sport? Did your parents play or was it something where you saw it on TV and really liked it?

A: It was my parents. They played recreationally and suggested I give it a shot, so I went to tennis camp for one or two summers. I think maybe the second time I went it stuck and here we are.

Q: Did you play any other sports when you were growing up or just tennis?

A: No, I played baseball, basketball, soccer, touch football at recess. I loved sports growing up and so it was kind of hard to stick with just one, but tennis won out.

Q: Given how many sports you played, did you always have an idea that you wanted to work in tennis or did you just want to work in sports in general?

A: Probably sports in general. Like I said, playing so many sports and loving athletics and wanting to be around it. So I finished my undergrad at Georgia in 2012, that was in May, then I got married in June and Drake Bernstein got the assistant job. That June or July he called me and said, ‘Hey, you want to come help us out?’ At the time I was ready to take some time away from tennis, but that really hasn’t happened, and gosh, that was 11 years ago.

Q: What made you choose to kind of take that job with the women’s team instead of taking that break away from tennis?

A: I think just because Drake asked. Drake and I have known each other since we first played each other in like a 12-and-under tennis tournament and then obviously became friends and went on to be teammates together at Georgia for two years and he asked me to help balance. At the time I was going to be the volunteer assistant with the women but I had a graduate assistantship with athletics, so I couldn’t coach, but I could take on like a manager role. So I just decided to give that a shot, more so because I thought it was going to be coaching, which was the plan. So just to be involved in athletics, and Drake, Drake asked and so it’s kind of hard to say no.

Q: With the NCAA tournament coming up, how do you help your players prepare coming off the SEC tournament?

A: I think just reminding them of where we’ve been and the improvement and success we’ve had. We look at our record, we were 5-5. I think we lost our first two, won the next three and then I think we went loss, win, loss. Then I think it went 16 of the last 18, so just reminding them of that. I mean look, we’re a long way from where we started this season, and I think it’s a testament to the resilience of this team. It’s not easy, they keep that on the forefront and continue to work hard. I think that more and more success is coming.

Q: With such a busy postseason, what is your work life balance looking like right now?

A: I don’t know how much balance there is. I mean it’s difficult for anybody. Jamie has five kids, I’ve got four, so you just kind of take it a day at a time. Manny and Jamie are great to work with and work for because they understand just the challenges that come with. I’m not at the courts every day, I’m there a couple days a week and hopefully more as we lead up to NCAA. Practice times will change a bit with the semester coming to a close, but yeah they’ve been great about giving me the flexibility I need to, you know, drop off and pick up kids from school and extracurricular stuff. You just got to take it a day at a time and get through the end of May with your head above water.

Q: You’ve obviously had a lot of experience working in tennis, whether it be here with the women’s and men’s teams, you worked in Huntsville and at Jennings Mill, what has been your favorite experience you’ve had in your career?

A: Gosh I mean it’s this, hands down. That’s not to take away from any other experiences, but to coach at Georgia and to coach under Manny and Jamie, that takes the cake without question.

Alexis Gardner is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.