Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Geoff Gohacki - A New Yorker for Whom Winning is Worth the Pain

Our featured player this week is yet another New Yorker, Geoff Gohacki. Geoff plays in the Brooklyn/Queens Division A as a 4.0 player and has been a member of Tennis New York since Fall 2011. Enjoy our Q&A with Geoff! 

First, tell us a bit about yourself, Geoff.
I currently work as a CPR instructor. I’ve had many occupations in the past, including, but not limited to: an organic farmer, cook, chef, culinary school instructor, caterer, and even house builder. I find my current job to be rewarding and much less stressful than my other professions. Outside of work, I enjoy lots of various pursuits. Most importantly, I have two boys who live with their mother in Vermont. I see them twice a month and make the most of my time with them. I also enjoy drinking great Belgian beers with my girlfriend. When I’m not playing tennis, working, or spending time with my loved ones, you can find me in the gym where I will be heaving kettle bells, working on my conditioning, or taking a spin class. 

How did you get started playing?
I started playing as a teenager, while living with my parents. In our neighborhood, there were three courts, and everyone was always trying to get on them. I always appreciated the time I could be on court, and most times I would have to play late at night. I developed my game as a sixteen-year-old after Andre Agassi’s power and brutish style. 

What do you love about tennis?  
Being outside and testing my physicality. The mental strength that it requires. And most importantly, meeting new people. 

How often do you play nowadays?
I try to play at least three times a week, but sometimes life takes over, and I only make it on to the court once a week. 

Do you play with anyone in your family?
My girlfriend, Vanessa, took up tennis about three years ago when I moved in with her. She is much better now, obviously, and she has the most style I have seen on the court. Her normal attire is black top, black skirt, hot pink calf sleeves, and black and pink shoes. She finishes the look with her signature head full of beautiful curly locks. I have also been trying to get my kids into tennis, but they are a harder sell. 

How did you first learn about the league?
I found out about it while searching online for people to play with in New York City. 

Tell us about your most memorable match.
One of my most memorable matches was with a player who is no longer in the league. We played our match, and after two and half hours, we were only through two sets. We had to stop the match and continue it at another time. So, we resumed the following week, finished that match, and we decided to play another one. That match turned out to last another two hours! The result of the second match was a draw, and yet we both suffered muscle cramps, dehydration, sore joints, and I lost a toenail. It seems masochistic to find pleasure in physical abuse, but it was an evenly contested match, and we were both really fighting for the win! 

Any favorite rivals in the league?
It seems like most of my favorite rivals are no longer in the league. Many have moved or had kids, which prevents them from playing regularly. I enjoy playing Artie Wood because he is always eager to play. I think he also has this incredible determination to beat me just one time.  I’m not going to give it to him that easily though. I am also looking forward to meeting OJ Jones on the court again. He has beaten me twice, and both times I felt like they were decent matches. I would like to think that my game has improved—not that his has not—and that I have a better chance to beat him now. 

Any complaint?
I have found that the option of a ten-game pro set is not appealing to me. In tennis, momentum can swing so quickly and wildly. If a player gets in a rut for four games, that could change the entire match. I always strive to play a two-out-of-three-set match. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a tennis player?
My number one strength would be my speed. I know that I am fast. Everyone tells me this, and I impress myself sometimes with balls that I’m able to retrieve. I also have a lot of strength, decent conditioning, above average hand-eye coordination, and my footwork is always improving. My biggest weakness is my mental conditioning. I get down on myself too much and carry my negative emotions on my sleeve. I am getting better at this though, as I have definitely toned down my outbursts. Again, trying to be more like Roger Federer. 

What are your tennis goals this year?
My goal is always to get better. I don’t know if I have the time, but I think that I would like to become a certified coach/pro through either USPTA or PTR. I am also always looking to improve my NTRP rating, I guess the next one would be 4.5. 

What do you do to try to improve, besides playing more?
I am somewhat of a gym rat when it’s not the summer, so I’m always trying to improve my physical conditioning. I go to tennis camp three times a year where I work on various parts of my game. Last time I was there I focused on sliding on Har-Tru. That’s probably one of the sexiest maneuvers in tennis today, when someone can slide effortlessly and hit a winner. I see some guys doing it on grass and hard courts. That looks painful! 

Who’s your favorite pro player?
My absolute favorite active player is Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. I love his speed, power, and athletic ability. I just wish he could keep it together mentally. 

If you could emulate a pro, who would it be and why?
As I age, I come to appreciate more the attributes of the G.O.A.T., Roger Federer. He makes the game seem effortless and efficient. It is absolutely beautiful to watch, and I don’t find myself wincing at some of his movements as I commonly do with others, like Djokovic and Nadal.  

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