Ask The Experts
Former Collegians on College vs. Pro Tennis
by TennisRecruiting.net, 18 December 2013
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For the vast majority of serious junior tennis players, college tennis is the next step. Tennis can help you with the admissions process and can also help defray your tuition costs.
But the strongest junior tennis players face the decision of playing college tennis or turning professional. Recently, more and more highly-ranked boys are choosing the college tennis over the Futures circuit as a development path. The physical demands of the men's game are high, and most young men do not have all their physical tools at age 18.
The situation is a bit different for women, and many girls are still turning pro. What are the pros and cons?
We put the question to our panel of recent college graduates:
Q) What advice would you give to a junior girl who is trying to choose between college and professional tennis?
Gina Suarez-Malaguti, North Carolina
College is able to teach you a lot more about tennis that you would get from playing professionally right after juniors.
The fact that you are not playing just for yourself anymore really teaches you a lesson. Every practice and every workout at the gym is not just for you any more. It's for something bigger than yourself. When you are surrounded by a family of nine or ten girls who are willing to go out there on the court, sweat for four to six hours, and put their body through the most painful and exhausting circumstances, it really changes the game for you.
The pressure you used to have in matches changes completely. In juniors it was about beating a girl that you grew up with, seeing friends at the check0in table, dealing with drama created by parents, etc. College is about playing for nine or ten other sisters. It's about making that extra step to get to that ball, staying in the match a few more minutes, hitting that extra ball, going in for that extra private lesson, running one more mile. College tennis not only teaches you more about tennis, but it also teaches you more about yourself - it lets you discover the limits of your body, and it helps you discover how much are you able to do and how hard you can push your body.
Going more into the tennis aspect, college tennis teaches you how to play every type of opponent - whether it's a defensive - "pushers" - or offensive style. In my experience, I was fortunate to have an intellectual staff that helped me see tennis with a different point of view. There is so much more than hitting balls side to side just because that's the way you were taught. It is about understanding the type of tennis that your opponent has - and playing strategically according to her game.
In the end, I believe that skipping college and going straight into professional tennis would be like going from middle school to college. Going pro early would be skipping a big gap in your life - and perhaps that gap could have actually changed your life forever, just like UNC did for me.