Inside the Monarchy - Aljosa Piric
Piric is a traveling man on the tennis circuit these days
Old Dominion’s men’s tennis team will play 17 of its 22 matches on its home courts this spring.
But that doesn’t mean Alsoja Piric, the team’s coach, won’t be on the road.
Piric, in his third year as ODU’s head coach, has a lot on his plate these days. First off, ODU’s roster took some hits in the fall and the squad is down to six scholarship players.
It takes at least six to field an NCAA squad.
So Piric has been on the road recruiting a lot.
“Back in the spring I thought I was going to be recruiting this season for two years down the road,” Piric said. “But we had some situations, our roster numbers fell to six, and suddenly I was recruiting for next year. It’s been good. We have commitments from five players, so I’m happy about it.”
With the roster depletions however, Piric felt it best to rework ODU’s schedule for this season to keep the Monarchs at home as much as possible. Their slate of home matches begins Sunday, Jan. 19, when the Monarchs host Howard. It kicks off a run of seven consecutive home matches.
“We need to manage our roster the best we can, we need to have our guys home as much as we can so that we can receive the type of treatment and get the type of rest you need to stay healthy,” Piric said. “Because we need to stay healthy. We have some walk-ons trying to make the team right now so that if we need to we can put some in the lineup. But you want to play with your best players.”
Recruiting, however, isn’t the only thing that is keeping Piric on the road a lot this season. He’s also been tabbed to help out the Bosnia/Herzegovina Davis Cup team. Longtime friend Amer Delic, who has his own tennis academy in Austin, Texas, called Piric last month and asked if he could help with the national team. Piric has been involved off and on with the national program of his home country Bosnia since 2000. Delic is Bosnia/Herzegovina’s official Davis Cup captain for 2014.
Piric hedged at first, realizing his first responsibility was to his own ODU squad. Then with the blessings of senior associate athletic director Bruce Stewart and AD Wood Selig, Piric signed on to help his national team’s cause.
“They encouraged me to do it,” Piric said. “They said opportunities like this don’t come along every day.”
Piric will travel to Savejevo in two weeks to serve as an assistant captain to Delic as the squad takes on Greece Jan 31-Feb. 2.
“I’m going to familiarize myself with the team and help in any way,” Piric said. “Then in April, Amer has a schedule conflict and I will captain the team for a match.”
Piric will miss his own ODU squad’s matches against Princeton and Maryland-Baltimore County in two weeks, leaving the team in the hands of assistant coach Sander Koning. But think about this for a moment: That’s a pretty big feather to put in Piric’s cap.
In future recruiting trips into young player’s houses, Piric will have “Davis Cup Captain” on his resume. And that has to count for something.
Bosnia/Herzegovina isn’t a favorite to win Davis Cup. They don’t have a big gun like Djokovic or Murray or Nadal. And yes, last names suffice because those players are that big.
But the team does have Damir Dzumhur, who made it to the third round of the Australian Open this week before losing to seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych. He is expected to be Bosnia’s big gun in Davis Cup.
Back home at ODU, Piric’s big gun this season will be Carlos Lopez Villa, who has climbed to a rank of No. 30 in the NCAAs men’s pool. A junior this season, Piric describes Lopez Villa as “an aggressive baseliner with a big heart.”
“Carlos loves to compete,” Piric said.
Piric does as well, both as a Monarch and as a native Bosnian, which is why he’ll be getting that passport of his stamped, time and again, this spring.