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College Spotlight: Jamie Loeb, North Carolina

September 19, 2014 08:00 AM
North Carolina sophomore Jamie Loeb
Loeb has been ranked No. 1 in the college rankings since February.

By Sally Milano, USTA.com

Jamie Loeb is coming off a phenomenal freshman season playing for the University of North Carolina women's tennis team. The 19-year-old from Ossining, N.Y., tallied a 53-4 overall singles record last year and became the first player in school history to be ranked No. 1 in the country, a position she held consistently starting in February.

Loeb earned ITA All-America honors in both singles and doubles last year, and she was named the ITA National Player of the Year, the ITA Rookie of the Year and the ACC Player of the Year. One of four nominees for the Honda Sports Award for women's tennis, Loeb became the first freshman in almost 30 years to win both the Riviera/ITA Women's All-American Championship and the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship in the same season. She also helped guide the Tar Heels to a runner-up finish at the 2014 NCAA Team Championship, the first national championship match appearance in program history.

Prior to playing at UNC, Loeb attended the John McEnroe Academy in New York and was the top junior prospect in the country. Among her many junior highlights, Loeb reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year and also won the doubles title and finished runner-up in singles at the 2013 USTA International Spring Championships. She has had success at the pro level as well, winning three $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit titles, at Sumter, S.C., last year and in Buffalo, N.Y., and Amelia Island, Fla., in 2012.

Loeb won the women's singles title at the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational, a college tournament held at the US Open, and just began her sophomore year at UNC. She is featured in the latest USTA.com College Spotlight and talks about her decision to attend college over going pro, the success she’s had so early in her collegiate career, the biggest difference between junior and college tennis and much more.

USTA.com: You were a top recruit in your graduating class. What made you choose North Carolina?

Jamie Loeb: The most important factor in my decision was the coaching staff. I felt they would help my game progress. I love my teammates, and I knew we would give each other the support that’s needed to win a national championship.

USTA.com: Was the decision to attend college and not turn pro right away a difficult one?

Jamie Loeb: It was a difficult decision because I had many people tell me that I should turn pro and others tell me I should go to college. I was torn between the two, but I am very satisfied with my decision. I think I needed to mature more both physically and mentally. I also wanted an education so I have something to fall back on.

USTA.com: You are currently ranked No. 1 in the ITA rankings. Did you expect to have this level of success so early in your college career? And do you feel added pressure being college tennis' top player?

Jamie Loeb: I didn’t expect to have so much success right away. I was slightly in shock when I won [the ITA Women's All-American Championships] in the fall. It was crazy how many matches I had to go through to win it all. I don’t think about the pressure of being at the top. Being No. 1 motivates me to keep raising my level so I can maintain my ranking.

USTA.com: What is the biggest difference between junior tennis and college tennis?

Jamie Loeb: The biggest difference is that in college, you are no longer playing for yourself. Playing for a team is a great experience because you have teammates right beside you cheering you on. In juniors, you are by yourself on the court. The team atmosphere is so much fun and fires me up even more.

USTA.com: How do you balance tennis and academics?

Jamie Loeb: I have always been disciplined with my academics. I usually set a schedule of when I want to complete my work, both long term and short term. I get my work in after class and at night. Sometimes it’s hard to block out the amount of work I have to do during practice. It can be overwhelming, but it definitely helps to have a plan.

USTA.com: If you could give high school students one piece of advice as they begin the college search process, what would it be?

Jamie Loeb: I would tell high school students to definitely not go by the name of the college but instead do research to find the best fit for them. Don’t feel pressure to commit so early. It’s better to take your time, and if the school is really interested in you, they will wait.



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