Georgia men’s tennis star Trent Bryde and the Bulldogs are set to open play in the NCAA tournament, the first two rounds of which will be held this weekend in Athens. Bryde, a redshirt senior for the Bulldogs, helped UGA capture an SEC regular-season championship for the first time during his tenure.
Here, Bryde discusses his college career and the roles he’s playing this year.
(This interview has been edited for clarity.)
Q: Do you have a pro player that you modeled your game after when you were growing up?
A: Novak (Djokovic) I would say is someone that I’ve always looked up to and tried to model my game after. I think that he, the way he counter-attacks very well is similar to the way that I like to play. I can’t do it the way that he does, because he’s one of the best players of all time. But I would say definitely Novak.
Q: What kind of leadership role have you taken on as one of the veteran guys on the team this year?
A: It’s been amazing to be able to lead some of these guys. We have five guys that are all seniors that are leaving. The rest are younger guys. Those guys, I’ve definitely tried to take under my wing to kind of teach them the ropes. (I) just kind of show them…what it takes to be successful as a Bulldog.
Q: How has this dynamic, this leadership role, played out with your freshman doubles partner Ethan Quinn, because you all have found so much success this season?
A: He calls it like a father-son (relationship)….We’ve had a great season. Obviously, he’s had a great season individually as well. We just (get along) really well. I think that our games complement each other. We bring a certain amount of energy that is required to be successful in doubles. So, it’s been great.
Q: What does it mean to you to have secured the SEC regular-season championship for the first time in your career at UGA?
A: It’s awesome. Fun fact is, if I were to graduate, without that championship, we would have been, my group would have been the first group to go through UGA and not get a regular-season championship or SEC championship of some sort. Yeah, that’s how historic, historically successful this program is. So, to get one of those is obviously very rewarding. (But) we’re not done yet.
Q: If you had to choose your favorite moment throughout your career at UGA, one moment, what would that be?
A: Gosh, there’s so many. One that really stands out is Tennessee this year. It was like a match I’ve never been a part of before. We obviously have a pretty deep rivalry with Tennessee. I was playing on court three, Phil (Henning) was playing on court two, a guy who I’ve been with, we started school at the same time. (I’ve) been with him for four-and-a-half years. It was down to our two matches. We both saved match points in our matches. We needed myself and him to win to get through the match. So, that was definitely the most memorable moment. Especially to share that with him and then also with your team.
Q: Can discuss what it means to wear the “G” on your uniforms over your career?
A: (Tennis is) generally an individual sport, you play for yourself your whole career. When you get to college, it’s a weird transition, because you’re playing for more than yourself. You don’t really understand what that means…as you go on, you develop this camaraderie with your team. That’s so special because you share so many ups and downs together….I’ve spent so much time here and realized how much bigger it is than just me. It’s a team thing. It’s more than just I. I think that is kind of what it means to play with the G on my chest, which is playing as a family, not just for yourself.
Q: Throughout your tennis career, whether at UGA or before college, who would you say has made the biggest impact?
A: Definitely my parents. My mom always supported me, made sure I was good to go when I was traveling all over the place. She even traveled with me when I was young to all the tournaments domestically. My dad financially supported me. I was very blessed because I had parents that were not crazy tennis parents, which is very common in the tennis community. I had parents (who)…understood the process. They understood that all I can do is really work hard and have fun. It’s not about the wins and losses. It’s a long journey. It’s a long process and to have parents like that has been vital for my career.
Q: If you could go back to the start of your career at UGA, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself starting out as a freshman?
A: I would say, to enjoy the moments because you get so few of these really special moments in college tennis. Being in college in general is fun and great. You’re always with your friends. But there’s very few special moments. Like I mentioned, the Tennessee match there, there’s one in my sophomore year, where we played Tennessee and Ohio State that weekend, that was a big one. When we clinched against South Carolina this year, that was a big one. There’s so few of these really big moments that happen and it’s really important to embrace and soak them in….As I come to the end of my career, it is bittersweet, because I’m moving on to a new chapter. But that’s why it’s also bitter because I’m going to miss this place to death.
Q: Describe the passion and enthusiasm that you play with?
A: (College tennis) is a different sport, because everyone’s super energetic, everyone’s fired up. Your teammates feed off of that energy. My whole career when it’s just me you’re not as intense you try to be a little more calm and sane. But when it’s college tennis and you have people relying on that energy, it’s important to make sure that you’re always as fired up and as energetic as possible in each match.
Q: Does the crowd play into that?
A: We get easily the best crowd in the country, in my opinion. With the stands filled up, and them screaming their heads off after I hit a good shot is (excellent). I mean, there’s no better feeling on the planet.
Q: What are you going to miss the most about Athens?
A: Being around my friends every day who I now call (my) brothers. I get to live with three teammates. I get to see them every single day. You know, in the evenings, we just sit on the couch and talk and hang out…I’m not going to be around these guys that I’ve been with for four years. So, it’s going to be a transition.
Jordan Howard is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.