Tom Brady once said his favorite Super Bowl is the next one. My favorite articles to write and interviews to do are always the next one. This feature with Trey Carter is one of the best yet, and I will probably say that next week and the week after, but I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with the one and only Trey Carter. I would like to genuinely thank him for taking time to speak with me. His tennis career, his love for Georgia and Athens, his love for music, his life after tennis, and all the other awesome stories in between tied together for one of my favorite pieces, so ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy a visit with Trey Carter.
I had fantasies of playing on the west coast. USC, Stanford, UCLA, and Pepperdine were all appealing options, but my decision ultimately came down to Clemson and Georgia. Hosting the NCAA Tournament every year was a huge pull when it came to my decision. Being from Georgia contributed as well, but Coach Magill was the biggest factor. He was charming as ever, and I came to the University of Georgia, not ever thinking twice about it. I was all in.
What separated UGA from other schools
The culture. All those schools I just mentioned were primarily football schools except for maybe Pepperdine and Stanford. The difference that separated Georgia from the rest was the significance the community placed on tennis. Number one, Coach Magill is a great promoter; number two, we hosted the NCAAs, which is also thanks to Coach Magill. In addition, I have always loved music, and Athens’ music scene was unlike none other. R.E.M. had just come out with their first or second album when I was coming through, so the music buzz around the city infatuated me. That culture and the support for tennis were incomparable.
Athens in three words
Eccentric, creative, and Dawgs.
The 1985 national championship season
It was, of course, special. The star power we had on the team was great. Mikael Pernfors was an existing star; George Bezency was a budding star; and Allen Miller was a single and doubles star, but really, he was a doubles dominator. As a freshman, the older talent and leadership along with Coach Magill’s tutelage was amazing for me, and those guys helped me as a tennis player and as a person. I came in as the no. 6 singles, and the five ahead of me were all returning starters, so the culture in which they had created was excellence and seriousness, and the fans loved that, but those guys taught me how to acclimate to that standard as well.
The 1987 national championship season
That season, like ‘85, was obviously special because of the ending. The memorable moment from ‘87, however, was us upsetting Southern Cal in the semi-finals. They were an unbeatable team. They had defeated us in the regular season and were undefeated going into the match. Singles used to be played before doubles, so we split the singles with them 3-3 and went to doubles. We lost at no. 1 doubles, won at no. 3, and T.J. Middleton and I were playing no. 2. For context, USC’s no. 1 doubles was the first ranked team in the country, and their no. 2 doubles team was the second ranked duo in the country. T.J. and I beat their no. 2, Luke Jensen and Eric Amend. The stadium was exploding with fans, and I am convinced that the NCAA began exploring other tennis complexes for the tournament because of that match. Our home field advantage was so slanted. We had our day and 6,000 fans right behind us gave us that extra push to beat the unbeatable.
Coach Magill’s defining characteristic
His ability to motivate was unlike any other. He was older by the time I got to Georgia, and he was still the great coach that he always was, but some of the decisions made for the team, he deferred to Manny [Diaz] because he was not the same young, spry coach. However, his presence and ability to motivate a team for a collective good was actually unbelievable. Tennis by definition is an individual sport, but he unified us as one team with one goal. Man, he would motivate us, and truthfully, we would die for him.
Greatest accomplishment after tennis
My sobriety. I had a tough time adjusting to life after tennis. It was hard going from some big shot on campus to a regular guy in the world, and I did not adapt to it well. I had trouble with drugs and alcohol, and at 26, I got sober. Now, I have built my entire profession around helping others with the same problems. It was a new battle; it was a tough battle, and without tennis, a battle I might not have won.
Advice for those who struggle with similar addiction
Ask for help. Everyone has an ego, and sometimes that ego makes people ashamed to reach out for help. That was my problem. I had too big of an ego to ask for help. You are not alone. No matter how dark of a place you are in, there is someone who has been right there or who is right there and willing to help.
Your Georgia fandom
You cannot play a sport for Coach Magill and not love the Dawgs. In addition, if you play for him, you will forever be a Tech hater. Coach grew up in a world where the enemy was not Florida, it was not Auburn, it was Tech. He hated the enemy from North Avenue from the depths of his heart. He instilled the values of being a Georgia fan in every one of his players along with the values of hating Tech.
“Be the change you want to see.” – Gandhi
Lunch with anyone in the world
Bob Dylan. I want to know what he was thinking when he wrote half of those songs.
Predictions for 2021 football season
The same predictions as every year. National Champions.