Sept. 26, 2012
By: Patrick O'Neill
In June, sophomore Benjamin Lock competed in the ITF Futures tournament in Turkey, a tournament that many promising young tennis players attend and one that fellow teammate senior Andres Bucaro attended in 2009, in Mexico. The teammates are both foreign born, Bucaro from Guatemala and Lock from South Africa, and have had great success on the court since enrollment at Florida State. Seminoles.com had the opportunity to sit down with these two athletes and ask them about how international play has helped prepare them for the collegiate circuit, as well as what we can expect for the upcoming season. Here's what they had to say.
To Benjamin Lock: In June, you competed in the Futures tournament in Turkey, against many top ranked ITF opponents, how did that competition compare to playing here at Florida State last year?
Lock: I think it was a bit different. First of all it was played on a clay court, so in that aspect it was a bit different. But it was sort of the same level as college, by me playing here last semester I think I was better prepared to go there and do well. I had some really close matches that could've gone either way, but it was a good experience and I learned a lot from it.
And how did that competition help prepare you for the upcoming season?
Lock: I think I learned a lot of the mental aspects. Certain things, I saw some really good players and got a couple good tips so I think it's all just experience and I've come back with a better mindset for this semester and this year.
As an athlete it's important to continually improve, whether it be physically or mentally. Which areas of your game have improved the most since coming to Florida State, and why?
Lock: I would say I've improved a lot physically. Mentally, probably the most, because in the main season you're playing a match almost every week and you've got your whole school behind you; you're not just playing for yourself you're playing for ten other guys. Also I think I've matured a lot, my whole mindset towards the game and the way I go about things.
You and Andres played very well with each other in doubles last year. In what ways do you think your play compliments one another's?
Lock: Well I think Andres is very strong mentally. He's very good technically, and solid. As a senior he's played a lot of matches. It really helped me starting out because it kind of eased me into the whole college routine. He's a very easy-going guy. He makes a lot of calls and he takes the pressure off of you when you're playing with him, so I feel like I can go for my shots. I think it's a good combination of he's more of a solid player, not really making many mistakes, and I'm sort of an aggressive player so I think we gel together.
Andres was busy doing some behind the scenes work for the team over the summer. Can you talk a bit about that?
Lock: Andres is a hundred percent committed to the team. I think he's the most committed guy we've had at Florida State in my opinion. He did a lot of work in the locker room; he's implemented some new rules for the team. I think everyone really appreciates the effort that he's put in.
To Andres Bucaro: In 2009 you played in the Futures tournaments in Mexico and Central America. Looking back, what do you think you gained from those experiences?
Bucaro: Playing at the professional level and seeing what they do on and off the court teaches you a lot. Especially as in incoming freshman, you want to be up to par. It was a very helpful experience for me. It was an eye opener that really helped me to transition into the college scene.
As a senior and a captain, what goals do you have for yourself to help improve both the team and your own play this year?
Bucaro: I think something key for me is going to be not to have any off-days during practice, and I think if I take care of that I'll help myself. I'll help the team push themselves during practice, which will make it easier on game day for us.
What kind of behind the scenes work did you do over the summer to prepare for this season?
Bucaro: I worked out a lot with our trainer. He was here all summer and we did a lot of lower body and core workouts, a lot of endurance, a lot of running. I also hit with the guys from the team who were in town and did a lot of physical and conditioning workouts. With regards to the locker room, I wanted to surprise the guys and I kind of tried to upgrade it a little bit, so I would put stuff in the locker room; kind of decorate it a little bit. I put some quotes up there, some pictures, stuff that I would feel that the guys would appreciate. This is my last year but, I think a year that could be memorable for all of us. During training, I had the team in my mind, just trying to set the tone for this year.
You played doubles with Ben last year; in what ways do you feel like your different styles of play compliment one another's?
Bucaro: I think Ben has a great serve, and I'm very active at the net, so he sets me up pretty good. Also, his return is great. We're a very good returning team, so that gives us an opportunity to break at any given point during our match. Being strong, not only with our serves, but also returning, we make a really good team and I think we showed it last year and we're really excited to play again this upcoming year.