Scott Gerber photographed the action photos and most, but not all, of the state qualifier group photos. Interview


OTZ Interview: University School's Paul Gota | District Draws

In the series of OTZ interviews with several of the top seniors in the state, today's interview is with Paul Gota. Gota will graduate from University School and he is ranked third in Ohio on Gota is a 4 Star, and he has a Universal Tennis Rating of 12.61.

Gota's parents are Marius and Carmen. Both are physicians at the Cleveland Clinic. His father is an anesthesiologist and his mother is a rheumatologist. Neither of his parents actively plays tennis but Gota's father closely follows the sport and "knows all that there is to know about the sport" by reading tennis books and watching videos. His father was Gota's first coach.

Paul Gota
University School's' Paul Gota - Click to enlarge
Gota was introduced to tennis at six years old, but he did not seriously play the sport until he was eight. That's when he played his first tournament. He has always focused on tennis rather than play other sports.

His strengths are his serve and forehand. His serve would be clocked in the 120-125mph range. He also looks to serve and volley when the opportunity presents itself.

Gota has shown substantial and steady improvement over the last four years. His (TRN) rankings in 2014, 2015, and 2016 were 230th, 199th, and 139th in the nation, respectively. His TRN ranking is now 76th. He explained, "I think I have really learned how to control my emotions on the court and more importantly I know how to think, how to analyze the situation - tactically, strategically, and technically - and figure out not only the things that I change when I lose a match but having adjustments when I win a match. It has been much clearer mentally for me and I think that has been my biggest improvement."

He has high goals for the season. "First and foremost, I care most about the team tournament. That's where we all want to play our best tennis and I'll be playing someone like Robert [New Albany's Cash] at that time of the year. I also have my individual goals and I do want to win singles in the State tournament. I had a rough start to the year. I wasn't playing my best tennis in the transition from indoor to outdoor [tennis], but now I'm starting to get the hang of it."

Paul Gota
Paul Gota - Click to enlarge
In fact, Gota's match (and loss) against Solon's Vlad Rotnov earlier in the season was a turning point for him. It put Gota into "another gear." "I started logging everything that I was doing every single day. Every day I came to tennis with a piece of paper and I wrote down what I was working on. When I went home, I thought about what else I should put on there and what else I could take off." ... "I felt like I needed to lose pretty badly to wake up. The first time that I played Vlad - he beat me down - it wasn't even close." [Rotnov beat Gota 6-2, 6-1 on April 25 and then Gota defeated Rotnov, 6-3, 6-4, in the Sectional seeding round on May 11.]

Gota is a math-science guy. He took four AP courses at University School. His favorite was AP Calculus.

Gota selected the University of Notre Dame but he was also looking at Ohio State and a school that no one likes or cares about (university of michigan). Gota has already been accepted into Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. Notre Dame loses just two seniors and has three other highly regarded incoming freshmen, but Gota hopes to "crack the line-up." Note that St. Ignatius graduate, Nathan Griffin, is also a member of the Notre Dame team.

Outside of tennis, he said that "I really love working out. That's one of those things that I do every day. I love lifting and that is obviously extremely conducive to not only being healthy but also to high performance in tennis, so those two things go hand-in-hand." Being with friends before they all leave for college is also important to him.

Of the various social networks, he uses Twitter (@PaulGota) and Facebook (for a college group at Notre Dame), but mainly Instagram. He also uses OhioTennisZone just as all courteous OTZ interviewees say they do.

This summer he hopes to be able to compete at the USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo. He last competed there when he was in the B16's.

Gota added "I am counting down the number of days to States." Today that number is eleven.