© Steve Franz/LSU
Michael Venus playing doubles at the Master’U event in Poitiers, France
Mike Venus, a senior from Orlando, Fla., transferred to Louisiana State University from the University of Texas during his sophomore year (2006-07) and joined the Tigers in January 2008. Since then, he has had great success, winning the 2008 D’Novo/ITA Men’s All-American Championship in Tulsa, Okla., and being named one of six college players to represent the United States in the International University Challenge of Tennis sponsored by BNP Paribas last December. Venus earned several honors in 2008, including being selected First-Team All-SEC, the Louisiana Player of the Year, First-Team All-Louisiana and the Louisiana Newcomer of the Year. He is currently ranked ninth in the Campbell's ITA College Tennis Rankings.
USTA.com: You were a top junior player, even winning the Boys’ 18 National Clay Courts in 2006, yet it was still a tough transition to college tennis. What are some of the biggest differences between junior and college tennis, and how did you adjust?
Michael Venus: One of the biggest challenges was living on campus and having to manage tennis with school work and attending classes, organizing meals, laundry, shopping for toiletries etc. Also, instead of having mostly individual coaching as a junior, I was now on a team, and the emphasis shifted to the team winning.
USTA.com: Did you ever think about going pro right from juniors, or did you always know you wanted to go to college?
Michael Venus: Turning pro after juniors was definitely an option I considered. I was very keen to give the Pro Circuit a try. However, I decided to play college tennis, as I felt it would give me an opportunity to mature, gain an academic education and improve my tennis through developing my strength and conditioning under guidance.
USTA.com: You had a great run this fall, winning the ITA All-Americans, pulling off some big upsets. What did you learn from that experience?
Michael Venus: A bit of self belief. Hard work brings rewards!
USTA.com: With the All-American singles title under your belt and a No. 2 national singles ranking to kick off the spring, you’ve got a bit of a target on your back. How do you deal with the pressure?
Michael Venus: I train hard, try to stay focused on my strengths and play my game.
USTA.com: This winter, you traveled with the U.S. team to compete in the Master’U event in Poitiers, France. How was that experience?
Michael Venus: It was awesome to be part of the U.S. team and represent the country. It was exciting to be able to play against some of the top college players from Belgium and France.
USTA.com: What is a typical day like for you -- practice schedule, strength and conditioning, classes?
Michael Venus: I have class from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. every day. We practice from 2-5 p.m. with weights two to three days a week after on-court training. And then there’s study hall from 7-9 p.m.
USTA.com: Obviously you are busy. What do you like to do in your limited spare time?
Michael Venus: Hang out with friends and watch movies.
USTA.com: What are your favorite things about LSU and Baton Rouge?
Michael Venus: My teammates and coach, football season and Cajun food!
USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and for your team this season?
Michael Venus: For the team, host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and see where we go from there. For myself, be an All-American and win an NCAA tournament.
USTA.com: The SEC is an incredibly deep conference, and coupled with the weather, the conference matches can be brutal. How do you and your teammates stay fresh?
Michael Venus: We have lots of laughs to relax and keep up team spirit. Also, healthy eating.
USTA.com: There are a lot of great rivalries in the SEC. Which match do you look forward to the most?
Michael Venus: Georgia…Two-time NCAA champions, and we play in Athens! It will be really tough for us to win away, but I am looking forward to the challenge.
USTA.com: What players did you look up to growing up?
Michael Venus: Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
USTA.com: Being a senior this year, what are your plans after the season?
Michael Venus: I am hoping to give the Pro Circuit a try.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Michael Venus: Be prepared to work hard on and off the court. College is fun. You’ll make lots of friends and meet a lot of people from different walks of life. Make the most of every opportunity. Every day, give everything you’ve got because anything less is lost forever.