By John Frierson
Georgia’s Tristan McCormick is the rare Bulldog men’s tennis player that might get mistaken for a member of the football team. The well-built 6-foot-4 graduate student, a transfer from Notre Dame, has size and strength, and he uses them to his advantage on the court.
McCormick, from Berwyn, Penn., Near Philadelphia, has made an immediate impact with the Bulldogs. This spring, he’s teamed up with a fellow fifth-year player Hamish Stewart to form Georgia’s No. 1 doubles team and McCormick has played matches at Nos. 2, 3 and 4 singles, going a combined 14-4 in completed matches. McCormick has also made a difference off the court and on Thursday was named to the SEC’s Community Service Team.
Back in 2017, when the Georgia football team made its now-legendary trip up to South Bend, Ind., To play the Fighting Irish, McCormick was in the stands as Bulldog fans packed Notre Dame Stadium and saw Georgia pull out a 20-19 win. McCormick remains loyal to the Fighting Irish football program, as you might expect, but he’s very happy to be playing for the Bulldogs.
During a recent Quick Chat, McCormick talked about that 2017 football game, his start in tennis, his funniest teammates, and much more. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Frierson: When you come to Georgia from Notre Dame, are you immediately cheering for the Bulldogs in football?
McCormick: No, I still am a Notre Dame football fan, much to my coaches’ dismay. I think it makes sense – I was a huge Notre Dame fan, so it would feel weird to cheer for Georgia more than Notre Dame after I was just there for four years.
I was in the same classes as some of the football players, I knew them, and I was so into it.
Frierson: Were you at the game in South Bend in 2017?
McCormick: I was. It was 20-19 and that was the only home game I saw Notre Dame lose in my time there. That was the only home game they lost in the four years I was there. It was a great game and there were so many Georgia fans, it was kind of crazy.
Frierson: Given your size, did you ever play football?
McCormick: Well, never. I kind of wish I did but I played baseball, soccer and tennis. I was focused mainly on tennis from the get-go.
Frierson: When you think of home, what comes to mind?
McCormick: I’m from Philadelphia but now my parents have moved full-time to Florida, so now our family spends a lot of time in Naples, Fla .; we don’t really spend much time in Philadelphia anymore. But I loved growing up in Philadelphia and I love spending time in Florida now.
I’m a warm-weather guy, I like it to be warm, so Athens was a nice changeup from what I had in South Bend, Ind., For sure. There’s no escaping the winter’s there, you have to walk to class and get out in it. There’s no escaping the cold, you have to go out and lock it every day.
Frierson: Did you try to model your game after any player in particular?
McCormick: I got the inspiration to play from my siblings. I have an older brother and an older sister and they actually both played at West Point (Army), and they were the reason I first started playing. When I was young, they were already playing kind of seriously.
Of course, Roger Federer was my first big inspiration, and he’s still my inspiration to this day. He’s just the man.
Frierson: If you could steal one shot from any player ever, what would it be? There’s a lot to choose from, like stealing John Isner’s serve or something.
McCormick: I wouldn’t steal Isner’s serve, I don’t think. I think I’ll keep my serve and steal a Stan Wawrinka backhand. I still like my forehand, I wouldn’t want to give it up, and I like my serve, so if I can level my backhand up to Stan’s level, that would be great.
Frierson: Do you watch much tennis on TV or do you get your fill out here on the courts every day?
McCormick: I watch a lot of tennis. One, because I’m just a fan, but also because I think it helps me. I think a lot of guys on our team do it, just because we’re into it and it helps us. If you’re watching the tendencies of the best players, I think you can pick up on those things.
Frierson: Have you ever hit with a wooden racket?
McCormick: I have – it’s different. You’ve got to keep the plane (of the face) more level and you can’t do too much with it. You can’t whip it around like you can with modern rackets.
Frierson: Who is the funniest guy on the team?
McCormick: Probably Hamish – Hamish and Blake (Croyder) for sure. Hamish is the funniest on-court, I think, because he’s just absurd. He’s a hothead and he has no filter, so he’s really funny. He’s Scottish so it’s in their blood, I think, to just say whatever comes to their mind. Blake, he’s able to keep it pretty light and he’s always in a good sense of humor.
(This Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Assistant Sports Communications Director John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association and curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.