Countdown: Playing Tennis at the U.S. Military Academies
by Tim Donovan, 7 November 2012
Special from Donovan Tennis Strategies
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The experience of playing tennis at one of the military academies can be quite different than the experience at other colleges and universities. While all tennis recruits should consider the challenges and opportunities provided by the schools and tennis programs they are considering, those considering playing tennis at one of the military academies have some unique factors to consider.
coach Keith Puryear talks about the leadership skills gained
courtesy, Navy Athletics
We asked current players and coaches at three service academies some questions that can provide insights on what it's like to be a student-athlete at one of the United States Military Academies.
Stefanie Ton is a senior at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Stefanie is from Milpitas, CA and was as a 3-star player ranked 244 nationally on TRN.
Donovan Tennis Strategies (DTS): When visiting the Naval Academy and non-military schools, what did you identify as the primary differences between Navy and the other schools you considered?
Stefanie Ton (ST): The difference between Navy and other schools is the environment... I guess at the Naval Academy I could tell that the students had a much higher responsibility than other college students due to the fact that they were graduating to lead other people.
From the tennis aspect, the coaches understand the big responsibility the students have, and the coaches not only give players the guidance and support for tennis - but also guidance for life.
Also for the academic side, the teachers seem much more involved in helping students succeed. I have received a lot of support from teachers and faculty members in school as well as in tennis. I feel as though the staff working at the Academy wants everyone to succeed and is always around to help. Teachers know students by first name and personal information in small classroom settings.
DTS: Describe a typical day during the season.
ST: Here is a typical schedule:
- 0700 - Morning Formation/Breakfast
- 0755-1155 - Classes
- 1200 - Lunch
- 1230 - Lifting with the tennis team
- 1330-1530 - Classes
- 1600 - Tennis practice
- 1900 - Dinner
- 2000 - Homework
DTS: Has the experience been what you expected?
ST: My experience at the Naval Academy has been very rewarding and has exceeded my expectations. I have learned a lot about myself the past three years, and I believe that the Academy has shaped me to be a more confident and capable leader for the future. It has been challenging to say the least, but I wouldn't change my decision to attend this school.
I don't think anyone can really "prepare" for the experience at the Academy. I believe being successful at the Academy means truly immersing oneself into learning - and rising up to challenges when they arise.
DTS: Describe the rivalry with Army.
ST: The rivalry is very competitive and brings spirit to both schools. There are some banners in certain athletic buildings that show our rivalry with Army - but are always respectful. Our two tennis teams are each other's biggest rivals. We have lost to them in the Patriot Championships two years in a row, but every year is a new chance to go after the title against them. In football, swimming - any sport - Army is a big competition. I believe the rivalry is a part of the tradition of the two schools, and it is really cool to be a part of that.
DTS: What advice would you give a tennis recruit who is seriously considering one of the service academies?
ST: My advice would be: Do your research. Ask a lot of questions and research the opportunities that are available to you during your time at the Academy and after. Make sure you are making this decision for yourself and no one else, because at the end of the day, you are the one who is going to the school.
My biggest piece of advice is: understand that these military academies will be a challenge, but if you like a challenge and want to see how much you can accomplish, go for it and you will surprise yourself.