Teodor Giusca and the Georgia’s men’s tennis team have had a very successful season and are set to play in the NCAA tournament, starting with first and second rounds this weekend in Athens.
Experiencing a big transition coming from Romania to the United States, Giusca has taken on a challenge with determination and turned it into a success.
Here, Giusca discusses his transition, skills and mindset to close out the season.
(This interview has been edited for clarity.)
Q: What would you say was your greatest challenge in transitioning from Bucharest to Clemson, especially during COVID-19 times, and eventually arriving at UGA?
A: My biggest challenge was definitely adapting. When I transferred from Clemson to Georgia, the expectations (were) higher. We are competing for national championships. When there are so many people in the stands, there is a different pressure. Just expectations are way different and way bigger. So, therefore, I put a lot of extra pressure on myself. I struggled at the beginning. That was one of the biggest challenges that I faced.
Q: How has playing tournaments out of Bucharest, Romania, translated into coming here and playing against Americans?
A: I mean, it’s not really that different. Tennis is played the same way, everywhere you go in the world. So, it’s not really been that much different. The only difference is the surface that it’s being played on. But honestly, I feel like clay helps you develop the game better than hardcourt. So, I feel like it helped me a lot on my transition to coming to the U.S.
Q: Who would you say is someone that you look up to, or you’re influenced by in the tennis world?
A: I mean, my coaches, Manny (Diaz) and Jamie (Hunt), they have done such a great job with me. I just respect them so much. Just their positive attitude towards me and towards the game made me enjoy it so much more. They’re just amazing people. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me and this past year.
Q: Would you say this is the best atmosphere you’ve had in your career in tennis so far?
A: Yeah, I posted one of the videos on Tiktok. It actually went viral and people have commented a lot on it. A lot of people believe it’s the best atmosphere in the world in any tennis setting, just because in pro tennis, obviously, it’s not as loud. People are just respectful.
Q: In regards to your play, what would you say sets you apart from others when you play?
A: I think it’s clear. It’s easy to say it’s just I’m probably the biggest fighter you will ever meet. I never let a ball go by and I just try to make every single ball. I think my mental and physical toughness are what set me apart from other players.
Q: What would you say your biggest accomplishment is since transferring to Georgia ?
A: Obviously, winning the SEC (regular-season) title was a big achievement for us. When I came, I told everyone in my family and all my close friends that I’m going to win a ring. We worked relentlessly as a team. I like to think that I played a big role in this achievement on and off the court. This has been by far the biggest achievement in my tennis career, because I wanted this more than anything to win a title for our team and for the university. Yeah, super proud of that.
Q: How special would you say this last season has been for you?
A: It’s been the best, I couldn’t have imagined it’d be any better. Obviously, the loss (in the SEC tournament final) hurt a lot. It affected me a lot. But I think we are going to learn from that and make a big run in the NCAA. I believe we can win the title. We have the older team. I’m ready to make this special, or even more special and go out on top.
Q: As an MS candidate in business analytics in the Terry College of Business, how do you balance the demands of academics and athletics?
A: I mean, to be honest, the fall has been brutal. Some of the results at the end of the fall show for that and it was tough balancing school. There was a lot of new material that I wasn’t familiar with from undergrad. There was a lot of coding. But honestly, I can’t thank the professors enough, they have been super understanding of my obligations towards the tennis team.
Q: What would you say in regards to technical skills is your best skill on the court?
A: I think my best shot would be my backhand. But I want to say that all my shots are solid. I don’t know if it’s just the technical skill that sets me apart, but more like, my tennis IQ. I would say that is what helps me, as well as my hustling.
Q: You guys have the NCAA tournament coming up. Is there anything specific the team is doing to prepare?
A: Just doing the same stuff we’ve been doing…We’re working hard. It’s like an exam. We’re not trying to cram everything last-minute because we have done our preparation. We are ready. We have a solid team. I’m excited and waiting to play. At least three more matches here – Dan Magill (Tennis Complex) in front of a good crowd. Hopefully, we’re (going to) have a great crowd.”
Q: Would you say you plan to pursue going on to professional tennis or do you think you’re going to go back to Romania and play?
A: It’s been a tough subject for me, this one, I was still thinking about it. This past summer, I had great success. I won three $25,000 tournaments which are really big tournaments in Europe. Which gave me a lot of motivation to keep going and play pro. However, I understand the cost that goes behind this. So, if I do not manage to find a sponsor, or someone that is willing to fund my career, I’ll probably just look into getting a regular job either in the tennis world as a coach or in the business world. But, I’m trying to stay in the U.S. and pursue something here.
Quentin Yroz is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.