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Blue Chip Commitment
Fall Signing Week '11: Redlicki Chooses the Devils
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It was the sort of streak that most tennis players can only imagine. For 30 matches during the summer of 2010, Michael Redlicki was untouchable, powering his way to prestigious titles at the Boys 16s national clay courts and Kalamazoo hard courts along the way.

The breakout run changed the life of the big lefty from the Chicago suburb of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The USTA invited him to train at their high performance training center in Boca Raton, Florida. College coaches from around the country called and emailed.

Now, Redlicki is poised to take the next step in his tennis journey and sign a national letter of intent to attend Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. It is a step that the blue-chip recruit hopes will lead to both a prestigious college degree and a career in professional tennis.

"It's one of the best feelings to have the recruiting process behind me," said Redlicki, whose family has relocated to south Florida to facilitate his training under the USTA's guidance. "All the stress has just been lifted off my chest. I'm very happy about my decision."

By Redlicki's account, his junior tennis career had been on a good, but hardly spectacular, path before his 2010 run. He credits his private coach in Illinois, French native Sylvain Guichard, with the remarkable transformation. Guichard, who coached the Mississippi State University men's tennis team before moving to the Chicago area, was hired as a USTA national women's coach earlier this year.

The child of Polish immigrants, Redlicki, who turns 18 later this month, can't remember a time when he wasn't playing tennis. He took up the game as a toddler, and excelled at the sport. He was athletic, and always taller than his peers. He now stands 6 feet 8 inches in height and weighs 180 pounds.

"I was always the tallest kid in class, the tallest kid of my age," he said. "Everybody when they'd see me would say, 'Wow, you're huge!' I got my share of 'how's the air up there?' jokes."

As beneficial as his height has been in tennis, it has also presented some challenges, Redlicki said.

"Getting low to a ball is nowhere near as hard for a short guy as it is for me because I have such a long way down," he said. "Emphasis on leg strength is huge for me. Being able to get low for a ball throughout a two-, two-and-a-half, three-hour match is something I had to get good at in order to be a successful tennis player."

Redlicki began working with Guichard in 2008, and the veteran coach and former Mississippi State collegiate player emphasized the importance of developing a "big man's game," Redlicki said. He worked on building a big serve, big ground strokes, and moving forward, "because at my height you don't rely on defense, you don't rely on having your opponent miss. You have to win matches."

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