US College Tennis
Every year many places open up for young tennis players to make their way to the US and compete on a college tennis team – College being the American equivalent of University. Many of these young men and women will receive full scholarships to these colleges in return for representing the school in intercollegiate competitions. Every tennis player has a dream of becoming a professional tennis player one day, winning Wimbledon and so. This is a great dream to have. However, at the tender age of 17 or 18 a young player may not be ready for the rigours of the pro game and face many difficulties in the transition from junior to the pros.
Advantages of College Tennis
In most careers there is a specific learning period such as university, apprenticeship etc. In tennis sometimes our best young players can be lost at this point as there is not this sort of opportunity on the pro tennis tour. College tennis can provide this bridge from adolescent to adulthood. Players taking up scholarship will receive
- great facilities both to train for their tennis and also to achieve academically.
- training, travelling, clothing and sometimes tennis equipment for free.
- Affordable tuition if not fully covered.
- Life experiences of living on your own and looking after yourself.
Teenage players more often than not are not yet matured, not strong and not experienced enough to face such challenges and let’s face it, having the money for training, equipment, tournament expenses, flights, hotels all year long sometimes can be the main issue stopping progress. Or maybe it is the opposite, perhaps players have the financial backing to do it but don’t have the tennis skills yet to reach their dreams. Choosing US College Tennis does not mean your tennis career is ending, great news, it is just starting!!!
As a 17 years old I was ranked top 10 in Brazil, mixing it with many players that went on to become top 100 in the ATP rankings. However, at this point I didn’t feel I was ready or financial able to make the transition onto the pro tour. After discussion with my family and coaches I decided that College Tennis would be my stepping stone. I began my College Tennis life at the University of Georgia Southwestern State University in the NAIA competition. In my 2 years at Georgia I improved enormously and finished this period ranked number 3 in the country behind two players ranked in the top 300 ATP. My level now allowed me to transfer to a top Division 1 school in the NCAA competition, Auburn University. At Auburn I competed in the South Eastern Conference which is regarded as the strongest in the country. Many pro players came out of College Tennis during this time. Players like John Isner, Benjamin Becker and Amer Delic who have all gone on to make the top 50 ATP. After 4 years competing in the collegiate system in the USA I was given an amazing opportunity to be the hitting partner for WTA world number #6 Chanda Rubin. I felt this was too good an offer to pass up. So my hitting partner/coaching career began from this point.
After College Tennis
By the time you finally graduate from an American University at the age of 21 or 22, you will have spent 4 years of training and competing at a high level. You will have learned what it is like to be on the road, staying in hotels, having to back up good performances day after day. You will be much more experienced both physically and mentally to face the pro Tour, if that is in fact what you still want to do. The worst case scenario is that you will have a US University degree, had 4 years of living in a different country and I’m sure made vast amounts of contacts that you may keep for the rest of your life. You can start your adult life however you want to!
College tennis has given me a lot and I highly recommend it to any young player coming through to the end of their junior tennis days. Education, tennis, overseas experience…. College tennis really has it all!