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Quick Take with John McEnroe
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If you look at the top American men on the professional stage, you'll notice a common thread - three out of four of them played college tennis.

John McEnroe was the NCAA singles champion during his one year of college tennis
courtesy, Stanford Athletics
One of the forerunners of the college movement was John McEnroe, who attended Stanford in 1977-78. That was a good year for the Cardinal, as McEnroe won the NCAA singles title and helped lead Stanford to a perfect 24-0 season and national title before moving on to his storied and colorful professional tennis career.

Harry Cicma of NBC Sports recently took advantage of his New York location to catch up with McEnroe - asking him a few questions with a college focus.

 

Questions and Answers

Harry Cicma (HC): What did you enjoy the most about your college experience at Stanford? What did you learn?

John McEnroe (JM): For me it was a number of things. I got to enjoy the college experience, and I lived away from my parents for the first time in my life. I also got to play in a team environment - which I really enjoyed doing.

I came into college as the No. 22 ranked male player in the world, which was very unusual for college. So I entered my freshman year with a target on my back and some pressure on me, but it was the type of pressure I needed to deal with when I turned professional. It actually helped me because I sort of saw what it would be like if a great majority of the crowd was against me - which was something I somehow managed to do in the pros too often. As a pro, I had people rooting against me for reasons which were often my own fault.

 

HC: Looking back, do you think going to college was the right choice for you?

JM: I loved the college experience, and I often tell people that it was one of the best - if not the best - decision I've ever made in order to help my professional career. I could've turned pro at No. 20 in the world - as there were great endorsements - and I feel that I would've done well in the pros anyway. But going to college allowed me to go out and do what I wanted to accomplish, and I wanted to win the NCAAs.

 

HC: What do you have going on with the John McEnroe Tennis Academy and the Johnny Mac Tennis Project in Randall's Island New York City?

JM: It's going great. Obviously we want to provide as many opportunities as possible and make the game as accessible as possible - which continues to be a problem throughout America. My goal is to raise as much money as possible from corporations or individuals so we can help give scholarships to as many kids as we can possibly get, and in the mean time we run a great Academy and provide an opportunity for kids who live in this area.

Plenty of kids can go to Florida and live and breathe it - if that's what's best for them. For me, personally, I don't think I would've succeeded had I been forced to do that. I was lucky enough to be in a situation where my parents wanted me close to home and near them. I got to play a lot of sports - which also helped me mature a little bit later, and that helped tennis development. I think that's a good way for many parents and kids to look at it, especially in tennis when you don't always peak until a later age.

So I think this area is a tailor-made set up for an Academy like mine. We get to encourage kids to go to college - if only for a couple of years, to grow up at a young age, and to be strong young men and women. We also help them to be ready to handle success, if and when they have it.

 

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About Harry Cicma

When it comes to college tennis, Harry Cicma is your man. Cicma covers tennis and other athletic stories for NBC Sports, writing articles and producing video segments.

He is co-founder and host of World Tennis a weekly tennis show on NESN, and host of of Tennis Live Radio's College Corner.

Cicma competed as a junior in USTA/New England and went on to play college tennis at Rutgers University. As a professional, Cicma competed at the ATP Newport tournament and the San Jose Siebel Open. He reached a career-high #75 in the ATP doubles team rankings and #1262 in the ATP Entry System.

In media, Cicma has run the gamut. He has worked for NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, FOX Sports Net, the Tennis Channel, and World Team Tennis. Cicma has announced NCAA sports as well as the US Open Tennis Championships on both TV and radio.

 
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