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Recruiting 101
Writing Your Own Story
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Choosing the right university can be a complicated and stressful process. As you struggle with the pros and cons of each college, you look forward to the relief of making your final decision. As soon as you make that phone call to give your verbal commitment, you suddenly feel this weight being lifted off your shoulders. At that moment you think you are free from the pressure of pleasing yourself and those who had high hopes for you.

USC standout Danielle Lao
courtesy, USC Athletics
Making that verbal commitment may have put an end to all the burdens that came along with your junior career, but be wary that there are more burdens to come as you begin to open a new chapter in your life.

Although entering the college scene as the new kid may give you the leeway to have lower expectations, any individual who has enough competitive spirit to be playing for a university has to have some sort of expectations for their college career. Some shoot very high and compare themselves to past NCAA champions, while others anticipate mediocrity because they are scared of disappointment. Both sides of the spectrum have the potential to hurt more than help a player maximize their career.

Forming expectations to reach replicated goals of past champions will not provide enough incentives to fight through the struggles necessary to attain them. Midway through the process, you will realize those were not your goals to begin with, and that you only wanted it because someone else had it - not because you yourself truly wanted it. I know a number of individuals who come in as freshmen with expectations to play at the top of the lineup only to end their first seasons struggling to win matches at number five or six. Time and time again, I have seen many players entering the college scene overestimating their own potential - or underestimating the level of competition they are up against.

The opposite side of the spectrum is expecting an ordinary career. These expectations may protect you from disappointment and the idea of heartbreak, but at the same time it is a disservice to everything you have done to establish yourself. Standard expectations tend to yield standard efforts. To pursue a career with efforts shy of your best is to set one up for possible regrets and 'What if's' in the future. In addition to the overly ambitious individuals I have come across, I have also seen many talents plateau after committing to their university. With the many activities and distractions in college, it is easy for priorities and interests to shift. I knew a girl who acted as if she was indifferent to her results because she claimed tennis had become secondary to her. Midway through her junior year, she said that her great social life made the losses less painful. Come her senior year, she admitted it was all a cover-up and that she was actually fooling herself. She now regrets not investing more of herself in what truly had value, her tennis. I am in no way saying you need to be a boring wallflower to escalate your tennis career. Take in all the great social aspects that college has to offer: meet people, go to parties, date someone, be normal. But do not forget how valuable tennis is to you. It has been an enormous part of your life for so long, and although you may not realize it now, ten years down the road you will want to look back at it and say you enjoyed being invested in it.

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Page updated on Thursday, June 19, 2014
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