I gave Coach Follmer a set of questions and he was nice enough to provide me with responses which are given below. His team is now ranked #2 in the country by the ITA and is definitely a frontrunner for the national title this year.
I was pleased with how the guys adjusted quickly to playing outdoors on our Texas excursion to Austin & San Antonio over the weekend. We hadn't played a match since March 2nd versus conference rival, University of Chicago and that match was indoors. Each day in Texas, we seemed to get a little more grooved and comfortable extending rallies and playing on our terms.
Barely and thankfully we qualified for the Elite 8 last spring. We alsohosted the venue and it was such a great experience for our program at Washington University. We hadn't hosted a NCAA Championship on campus since WU volleyball did in 1991 and went on a streak of 6 NCAA titles in a row.
National Indoors was another new and great experience for our program (this group of players had never been). Seeing a lot of top competition early-on in the year and playing on super fast courts was a good way for the guys to learn how to be play 'uncomfortable' tennis. That is, if you don't dictate from the first opportunity off the ground (baseline) and/or attack the net, you likely were going to come up short.
The UAA Conference we play in is very tough. Emory over the years has set the standard high and all the programs (men & women) are all improving in the "process" of trying to get better. Our goals this year are pretty simple: 1) Improve our fitness level 2) Improve our practice & match focus and 3) Enjoy the Battle (like the Slugs of UCSC).
Finally, Mr. Watts is special because he plays within himself. I have had a player or two since I have been at WASH U that I thought were more gifted than John. However, both tried to do things that they saw on TV (ATP tour) and/or what they thought would be crowd pleasing tennis on those days we have fans at our matches. John simply plays solid tennis and breaks his opponents down and forces them to hit shots they have no business trying (ala ATP tennis on the Tennis Channel).