Young returns to Northwestern as his young team gets some individual experience

by Zach Eisendrath

As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, Geoff Young said he never really thought about being a collegiate tennis coach.

“I was thinking about getting homework done at night,” Young said. “I was sort of undecided much of my undergraduate years about a profession.”

Young eventually graduated in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but it wasn’t until his time as an assistant coach at Alabama that he decided he wanted to make a career out of coaching.

More than a decade later as the head coach of Minnesota men’s tennis, Young will make his first appearance on the campus of his alma mater while wearing another Big Ten team’s colors.

The Gophers will square off against players from Big Ten foes Wisconsin and Northwestern as well as DePaul and Western Michigan at the Northwestern Invitational in Evanston, Ill.

The three-day individual tournament that begins today and goes through Sunday features two flights of singles and one flight of doubles.

Young, who collected 83 career singles victories while playing for the Wildcats, was an All-Big Ten selection his junior and senior seasons.

“I had a good experience there,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. I was on some good teams. It’s fun to go back to where you went to college. I have good memories.”

Don’t expect Young to use his return to campus as motivation to pump up his players. He said there is no statement to make this weekend when he returns to his old stomping grounds. After all, the Gophers did beat Northwestern 6-1 last spring when the teams squared off one-on-one.

Instead, Young said he is focused on seeing the competitive nature of a plethora of his players, many of whom will play their first collegiate tournament this weekend.

“There is no more incentive than any other tournament,” Young said. “I’m not so much interested in beating anyone; I just want to evaluate the team and try to see them get better.”

Every player other than senior’s Raoul Schwark and Chi-Lang Pham will compete this weekend, Young said.

One of the players who will participate is freshman Sebastian Gallego, part of Young’s first recruiting class with the Gophers.

The newcomer from Medellin, Colombia said he is excited to make his Minnesota debut after playing challenge matches against teammates over the past month.

“I’m pretty excited for my first tournament here in the U.S.,” he said. “I look forward to doing a great (this weekend).”