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College Commitment
Countdown: Sam Wells to Vanderbilt
by Ali Jones, 3 November 2008

Sam Wells couldn't help but notice the man in the Vanderbilt shirt who was watching his match against Charlie Jones at the 2008 National Clay Court Championships.

Sam Wells is heading to Vanderbilt
"I just played awesome - the match of my life," Sam said. "I don't know how to explain it." And then, just as quietly as he appeared, the man vanished after the match. No, it wasn't an apparition Sam imagined. It was Vanderbilt Coach Ian Duvenhage who was actually watching Sam's opponent, a new Vanderbilt recruit.

Sam went on to win three matches at the Clay Courts. Unfortunately, during his fourth-round match, Sam felt a pop in his right elbow and couldn't continue to play.

"The diagnosis was far less serious than the pain I felt," he said. He had a slight muscle tear that has healed nicely, after resting for a few weeks.

It was months before Sam heard from Coach Duvenhage, and when he finally did, Sam was ecstatic. Understandably so, as Coach Duvenhage offered Sam a spot on the Vanderbilt team.

"It was a dream come true for Sam," said Kathy Wells, Sam's mother.

Sam had previously considered Wake Forest and Northwestern, but the mystique of Coach Duvenhage was just overwhelming. Coaches at the leading Florida tennis academies where Sam had trained had only good things to say about the coach. Sam's private coach, Derek Porter, also had a Vanderbilt connection - Assistant Coach Tom Boysen once worked with Porter as a junior. Sam needed no more convincing.

"All the signs pointed to Vanderbilt," Mrs. Wells said.

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