DURHAM, N.C. - GoDuke.com sat down with women's tennis player Amanda Granson and men's tennis player Ned Samuelson recently for a question and answer session. Figure out why Kevin Cassese is Granson's favorite athlete and how Samuelson justifies wearing a sweater vest, plus much more.
GoDuke.com: Why did you choose to attend Duke?
Amanda Granson: At first I was very influenced by my two older sisters who went to Duke because they had such a great college experience here. Even so, I didn’t know what this place really had to offer until I came on my recruiting trip and checked out the school for myself. I realized just how amazing this place really is. The combination of elite academics and athletics is unbeatable. The burritos at Cosmic Cantina didn’t hurt either.
Ned Samuelson: Because when I was eight years old I told my mom that when I grew up I wanted to be a basketball player who played for Duke. Seriously.
GD: Describe your most memorable tennis experience?
AG: My most memorable tennis experience would definitely have to be winning the Pennsylvania state team title. I was a freshman and my sister Jess was a senior, so it was our only year to be on our high school team together. As a team we had a pretty good season, but went into the state tournament as the obvious underdogs. We were able to fight through four rounds before winning in the finals, 4-3. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better feeling than in that moment.
NS: When I was a junior I got to the semifinals of National Clay Courts. It was a really big deal for me and my parents flew down to watch the match. My mom hadn’t seen me play in years so she was pretty excited. In the third set, the chair umpire made a bad call on an important point. I went absolutely ballistic and the entire crowd started booing me. I turned to the stands and screamed, “Oh yeah, who won the war?” referring to the civil war. That was pretty memorable.
GD: What is your favorite thing about tennis?
AG: I love that you stay so active in tennis, and are constantly moving. At the end of a practice or match you really feel that you have worked hard. Also I love to compete and the satisfaction that comes from hitting a winner.
NS: That I can justify wearing a sweater vest.
GD: Is there a specific match that you look forward to all season?
AG: I would definitely say that UNC is a match that our entire team looks forward to. Obviously there is an intense rivalry between us, so we all get really pumped up to play. Even though that’s true, every match is fun and we get excited every time we have the opportunity to compete.
GD: Do you have any pre-match rituals?
AG: I call my sister Katie! She traveled with me a lot in juniors and knows exactly what to say to me to get me pumped up. Also, I normally look at my tennis notes and key points about what I want to accomplish and work on for that specific match.
NS: None that GoDuke.com wants to know about.
GD: Do you have any siblings that play sports?
AG: I have three older sisters and they all played tennis growing up. Sarah played for James Madison University, Katie played for Duke, and Jess would have played college tennis if it had not been for her getting four knee surgeries.
NS: My brother and sister are the brains of the family.
GD: What do you like to do in your free time?
AG: Free time is very limited between practice, matches and schoolwork, but when I do have an off day I love to hang out with friends and family, watch movies, read and play others sports like golf.
NS: I like to get fratty with my SAE boys.
GD: If you could pick any other sport to play besides tennis, what would it be?
AG: It’s hard to choose, but I would say either golf or lacrosse. Golf because you don’t have to run so much and you get to play on such pretty courses, and lacrosse because you get to be part of a big team.
NS: See the first question.
GD: What is your favorite class that you’ve taken at Duke so far?
AG: My Cultural Anthropology class about American Identities with Dr. Lee Baker. I would definitely recommend it.
NS: I really liked both of Dr. Hamil-Lukers classes. Causes of Crime taught me one very important thing - prison isn’t a place I want to be.
GD: If there was one place in the world you would like to visit where would it be?
AG: Greece! We have relatives who live there and I have always wanted to go visit them. Not to mention, I hear that it is amazing with its white beaches on the Greek Isles. Hopefully one day I can actually see them!
NS: Tijuana. Definitely Tijuana.
GD: Who is your favorite athlete and why?
AG: My brother-in-law Kevin [Cassese] is my favorite athlete, but if I have to choose a famous professional athlete I would say Roger Federer. He is an incredible tennis player who hits the ball so smoothly. His game looks effortless, yet he manages to dominate the ATP. Also, he is a really good competitor who plays with a lot of class.
NS: Abby Waner. I won’t be embarrassed because I know that nobody is going to read this anyway. I have a crush on Abby Waner.
GD: Who were your heroes growing up?
AG: My three older sisters! I looked up to them so much growing up, and continue to do so today, because they are incredibly smart, thoughtful, motivated and accomplished people. I have always strived to be like them; they are my best friends.
NS: I am a basketball fanatic and I grew up watching the Celtics. I only got to see Larry Bird play once but I’ve seen him on ESPN Classic millions of times. I still get fired up when he steals the inbound pass from Isiah Thomas in the ’87 Eastern Conference Finals. Between Abby and Larry I have to take her jumper though. Much prettier.
GD: What is your favorite sports movie?
AG: Hoosiers! My dad played freshman basketball at Indiana and raised us as die-hard Hoosier fans. I even used to know the IU fight song by heart!
NS: Journeymen is a tennis documentary that I love, but in the main stream you can’t beat the Bad News Bears. I was just like Tanner when I was younger.
GD: What’s in your iPod right now?
AG: Rascall Flatts, Coldplay, the Fray, Dave Mathews, Faith Hill and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
NS: Counting Crows. I have the lamest taste in music. I treat Counting Crows concerts like a religious experience. Also I once bought a Jewel album and the entire staff was laughing like hyenas. I was like “What’s wrong with Jewel?” Some guy said, “Nothing, if you’re my mom.” Not my proudest moment.
GD: What is your favorite food?
AG: Frozen yogurt - especially from Yo-Pump in Chapel Hill - and brownies. I have a major sweet-tooth!
NS: Every single night I have the Penne Rustica from Cinneli’s. I also love the chicken breast from Subway. The Subway women are so nice to me.
GD: What is your dream job?
AG: I would either like to be an editor for a magazine like “Travel” so I could go to really neat places and write about them, or start a business with my sisters. I’m the baby, so hopefully when I graduate we can start to build something up.
NS: I would love a job where I could wake up at noon, hit tennis balls for a few hours and then go back to a house and hang with 20 of my closest friends. So if going to college becomes a job, sign me up.
GD: Are you hooked on any TV shows?
AG: Grey’s Anatomy, but I’ve also recently started watching October Road and I love it!
NS: I watch an incredible amount of TV. I love Entourage and The Sopranos. I used to watch Laguna Beach with all my roommates until someone pointed out that those girls are jail bait. That put a damper on things.
GD: If you could go to any concert what would it be?
AG: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
NS: I went to a half dozen Crows shows last summer and they were all phenomenal. I’d like to hear them play another acoustic set. Maybe I could kill two birds with one stone and hear them in Tijuana.