UCLA junior Marcos Giron
© Don Liebig/UCLA
Marcos Giron is the latest in a long line of UCLA standouts to win the NCAA men's singles title.
© Scott Chandler/UCLA
By Sally Milano, USTA.com
Marcos Giron turned pro following his junior year at UCLA, which was highlighted by winning the NCAA men's singles title in May. He went on to have a successful summer that included qualifying for the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Winston-Salem, N.C., and winning the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational at this year's US Open.
A 21-year-old native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Giron was named the ITA National Player of the Year his junior year, making him the third UCLA player in history to win the award, in addition to Benjamin Kohlloeffel (2006) and Marcel Freeman (1982). He was a unanimous First-Team All-Pac-12 selection and ended the season as the No. 1-ranked singles player in the final ITA rankings. Giron posted a 30-5 overall singles record during the season and was 14-3 in dual matches, playing mostly at the Nos. 1 and 2 positions in the lineup.
Prior to attending UCLA, Giron was a top junior player; he was listed as the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation. He had a sensational run at a string of prestigious junior tournaments in 2011, when he won 18 consecutive matches at the USTA ITF Claremont, USTA International Spring Championships and the Easter Bowl. He also represented the U.S. in Junior Davis Cup play and competed in three of four junior Grand Slams – the US Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
Giron, who majored in economics while at UCLA, has also competed on the USTA Pro Circuit and has picked up three singles titles to date, at this year's Futures event in Calabasas, Calif., and two last year at the Futures in Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Claremont, Calif. He discusses his career highlights so far, his favorite thing about UCLA and much more in the latest College Spotlight.
USTA.com: You had a successful junior career and were one of the top recruits in the country. Did you ever think about turning pro right from juniors, or did you always plan to go to college?
Marcos Giron: It went through my mind. I committed to UCLA, but then the spring before coming to school I had a very successful series of tournaments, where I won four events – Claremont, Carson, Easter Bowl and an Ojai tournament. I had a lot of momentum, and I went to play the Slams, and I did all right there, and the thought crossed my mind – maybe I should give it a shot to see if I can really do it. But then, when it came down to it, I knew I was going to come to college. It was the right choice for me. I still need to mature mentally and physically before I’ll be ready.
USTA.com: How did you decide upon UCLA? Did you consider many other schools?
Marcos Giron: I definitely considered other schools, but it really came down to between UCLA and USC for a variety of reasons. Both are great programs, both had great players and great coaching staffs, and they’re both in the Southern Cal area. Growing up here, my coach Amir Marandy is close by, so I knew if I came here, I could always keep working with him on the side, and I could always go back home when I want to. At both schools, there are just great players and a great atmosphere, so for me, I knew I would stay in SoCal and go to one of the two programs. At UCLA, I just felt like I had a better connection with the coaching staff and with the players and with the area.
USTA.com: What is the best thing about UCLA and being a Bruin?
Marcos Giron: There are a lot of great things. I just feel like the expectation to always be the best is one of the best things because, coming to UCLA, there’s just no being second place. You always want to be the best. I think that’s great. That’s great motivation to keep moving forward and try to be the best. That’s one of the coolest things, just to be a part of such a great sports program.
USTA.com: You’ve had success at every level of tennis, from juniors to college to playing at pro tournaments. What would you say is the highlight of your career so far?
Marcos Giron: That’s tough to say. There are different ones from different phases of my tennis career. When I was in juniors, when I won the four tournaments back to back, it was very satisfying. I was training very hard, and it was a lot of work, and coming through it was very satisfying because I just knew I had put so much time and effort into it. Succeeding was an unbelievable feeling.
But then also last year, at NCAAs, making it to the (team) final was another unbelievable experience. Playing college tennis and making it to the top with your team was a great experience. We were trying to achieve a goal, and we got so close. I felt like we achieved it for a split second there, but hopefully this year we’ll be able to get back and win it.
Those two have to be the most satisfying times. And then this last year, I’ve had some good results. I’ve won a few Futures. I’ve won three of the last four Futures that I’ve played. Doing well there gives me confidence that I can move on and hopefully have a future in tennis.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Marcos Giron: To enjoy tennis. That’s what it comes down to. You really have to make sure that it is what you love to do. Also, just stay on top of your schoolwork. It’s not easy having to study all the time while playing tennis, but you have to manage your time well. That’s the biggest thing.