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Player to Player: Playing College Tennis

March 19, 2012 09:00 AM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.

Player to Player:
This week's question from Todd:
My son is 13 years old. He is in seventh grade and has been playing tennis for six years now. His goal is to make varsity tennis as a freshman. I am a high school tennis coach and believe he has a chance to do it. He has a good two-handed backhand but lately has been really consumed with changing to a one-handed backhand. Is this a good time? He is just starting to play competitive USTA matches and anticipating that this is going to be a long and rough learning curve for him. What are your thoughts?
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@USTA.com, and include your name and hometown.
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!

Last week's question from Raul
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
I am a super champ player in the 16s, and I breathe, eat and sleep tennis. However, I can only play a limited number of USTA tournaments. What is the best way to build a resume for top Division 1 schools?
Player Responses:
Coach Leonard, Concord, Calif.

With a limited number of junior tournaments to play, here are my suggestions:
1) "Join the crowd." What I mean is find the tournaments at the larger cities or most attractive facilities and you'll get the bigger draws. The deeper the draw, the better opportunity to face higher-ranked opponents. This will get more merit than winning smaller-draw events. If you want to get serious attention, I find that often colleges will have USTA junior tournaments. Guess who usually runs those? The college coach, with his team assisting.
2) "If you want to get to the top, you need to aim high." Enter more highly regarded competitions, such as nationals. In every one, you will not only play strong opponents but be tested on different surfaces. Like Roger and Rafa, though they won't enter every event, but the larger tournaments and majors are a must to raise or maintain ranking.
3) "Respect your elders... then kick their behinds." An obvious way to draw attention to a college is to play the next age division up. Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Tracy Austin and Melanie Oudin all played the next age group up to progress more quickly.
Whatever you decide, direct your focus on developing your game and playing strong. Tennis scholarships aren't awarded to those who overthink. They're given to overachievers. I recommend doing Step 1 first. If there wasn't enough challenge, move on to Step 2, then 3.

Best wishes on your journey.
Kenny S., Chicago

If you want to play Division I college tennis, you are going to have to either be very talented at tennis or work so hard you might get sick of the game by the time you get there. Getting a scholarship is a very nice thing, and you will have to be one of the top players in your state by the time you are 16. Now men really don't get to their best until they are around 21 or even later. Ladies usually earlier, but, again, watch out for burnout. You would need to play and train about every day. You need to want it and run down the ball like you're running from a pack of wolves. You can also enjoy your youth a little more and grow into the game. You can go to a D-1 school and try out for the team. If you make it, nice, but watch out  -- you might not win much and might not even play meets. You could either red shirt your first year or play into a scholarship, as I should have and was offered.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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