Ask the Experts
Real World: Arizona Graduate Monique (Allegre) Walker
by Annette Broersma
, 20 July 2011
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Monique Walker is a graduate of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. She currently resides in the Phoenix area, where she has been a successful realtor since 2003. She is the mother of 2 young girls, and is married to Chris Walker.
Monique is the subject of our latest installment of The Real World of College Recruiting with recruiting expert Annette Broersma. These real stories should help potential recruits better understand the road ahead.
Broersma talks with Monique about her experiences with the college search process, and playing college tennis at a top Division I university.
Annette Broersma (AB): What position did you play at U of A?
Monique Walker (MW): Over the four years, I played every position at one time or another. The first three I was all over the place, but in my Senior year I played at #1 or #2 position in singles as well as #1 doubles consistently. I improved every year, so I was able to move up commensurate with my game's development.
AB: What was your highest ranking in junior tennis before you started your college search?
MW: I believe my highest was #7 in Southern Cal, and #59 nationally (USTA). For a while I was #1 in the U.S. in doubles.
AB: What type of practice/competition schedule did you have to reach such great rankings?
MW: I played my junior tennis when I was at the Cabrillo Racquet Club in Camarillo, CA. That was where the Bryans (Mike/Bob) and many other great players came from back then. We all did 2-3 hours a day of clinic (group drills) and match play (sets), followed by sprints and flexibility. I played one or two tournaments each month and played all the national events I could during the summer.
AB: How did that compare to your training in college?
MW: The team played/trained 3-4 hours every weekday. The drilling was more intense. We lifted more weights and did a lot of pliometrics and stretching. I felt I was prepared for college tennis so the transition was comfortable for me.
AB: What was your primary focus as you looked at colleges, and impressed you the most about the U of A?
MW: I was looking for the best tennis school first, and everything else second. I absolutely needed a full ride scholarship. What impressed me about U of A was the tutoring and academic support - which was amazing and free. I was able to enroll in my classes before the rest of the students so I got all the classes I wanted. The scholarship money I received every month completely covered my housing, food, books and a few other necessities. In addition, there were other small scholarships I was able to obtain that paid for clothing. I was honestly as financially secure as I had ever been in my life!
AB: What other factors influenced your decision on where to look, since it seems you were ranked high enough to go just about anywhere.
MW: I wanted a warm climate, to be close to Southern Cal where my family was, to find a coach who showed a lot of interest in me and would help me continue to improve. I also wanted to be on a strong team so the program's success was important to me. A few schools had all these criteria, but I really liked the campus so that sealed my decision.
AB: What was the recruiting trip like there, and when/how were you offered the 'full ride'?
MW: The recruiting trip was amazing; I was able to go with my doubles partner. We went out to a sorority function with a team member so we experienced the social life - quite fun! Since it was a weekend, I didn't see the team work out (which I would encourage others to do), but I was able to walk around the campus and see the students' campus life as well. The coach called me about a month after the visit and offered me the scholarship on the phone. I immediately accepted. It was a few weeks before the National Letter of Intent came in the mail and I 'signed' to legally commit myself to U of A.
AB: If you had it to do over, what might you have done differently?
MW: College coaches are great at match strategy and should be good organizers. However, sometimes they lack stroke production advice, so keep in touch with your junior coach and keep up the lessons when you visit home. I wish I could have done more of that.
AB: Your advice to current recruits looking at colleges?
MW: Coaches can get fired or choose to coach somewhere else, so make sure your decision is based on much more than the coach. Specifically, the culture of the athletic department, the team's spirit, and the university as a whole are very important to your happiness and success overall. My coach retired by my junior year, and that really threw me off mentally. That is another good reason to stay connected to your junior coach or someone who has their eye on you and only you. Also, it is great if recruits can be open-minded and expose themselves to universities in different states. Most of us go back where we came from, but for 4-5 years, it's fun to try something new.