College Combine: A Family Affair 

Erin Maher | June 20, 2018

From June 18-21, the nation’s top high school players will descend upon the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., for a chance to show off their skills in front of college coaches at the USTA All-American College Combine presented by adidas. Throughout the event, will follow second-time participant Sophia Edwards as she returns to the Combine in hopes of fulfilling her dream of becoming a collegiate tennis player. 


Rising high school junior Sophia Edwards had no trouble toppling her first-round opponent, 6-2, 6-1, on Day 2 of the 2018 USTA All-American College Combine. 


While her performance on the court looked effortless, sitting on the sidelines was her mother, Caroline, her No. 1 fan and the person who knows just how much effort Sophia has been putting into her tennis, day in and day out. 


Parents are often a child’s first coach, first fan, first hitting partner, personal chauffeur, chef and so much more. The drive and desire to play collegiate tennis, paired with a supportive parent, makes all the difference in making a student athlete’s dreams of varsity tennis a reality. 


On Monday night, as part of the Combine event, the USTA held a “Parents Information Session,” helping educate the unsung heroes and major support systems behind these players on the collegiate recruitment process. 


Led by Scott Treibly, director of Recruit Fit, a collegiate sports placement organization, and a panel of college coaches and admissions officers, parents were given insight into the recruitment process. 


“I really liked how they were talking about communication with the coaches,” said Caroline Edwards. “That although we, as parents, are supportive in this college process, it’s important to let our children reach out to coaches from potential schools.”


Caroline's sacrifices for Sophia's tennis have been numerous. From driving over 45 minutes daily to get Sophia to practice, to even moving between states in order to give Sophia a greater pool of competitors, Caroline's support has been unwavering throughout her daughter's tennis career. But she knows the hard work will pay off. 


“I think tennis gives them so many opportunities,” Caroline Edwards said. “It’s just really been a blessing to get to this point. When I see Sophia’s peers who are a year or two older than she is, participating in these collegiate programs, you see how all the hard work has paid off. The driving them around, the flying them around, everything that you put into giving them opportunities – the highs, the lows and the motions – it is amazing.”


The Combine is reminiscent of the college experience. Parents are there, behind the scenes, shuffling their kids to school and practice, paying for a new racquet or new textbooks and ultimately giving them the greatest chance at having as many opportunities as they can in life. 


Armed with hours of studying in school, countless drills on court and the unconditional love and support of a parent who stands behind them, the time comes for every student athlete to walk alone, to enter their first college class or play in their first collegiate tennis match. 


So when asked what she was most excited for Sophia as a potential college athlete, Caroline gave the only answer a mother could: “Nothing! I don’t want her to go. I’m just trying to cherish these last two years. I’m going to miss her!”


Yet, despite her answer, there’s no doubt that when Sophia dons that varsity jersey and plays for the school of her choice, Caroline will be right there on the sidelines, cheering on her daughter, as she always has been. 


For more information on how to make your dream of playing collegiate tennis a reality, click here


Pictured Above: Sophia Edwards, 16, participating in match play at the USTA All-American Collegiate Combine. (Photo credit: Manuela Davies)

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