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Chris Woodruff, the associate head coach for the University of Tennessee men's team, has a glittering tennis resume. In his junior career, he won the 18s Clay Courts and Easter Bowl and was a Kalamazoo finalist in the 16s. The 1993 NCAA individual champion at the school that now employs him, Woodruff peaked at 29 in the ATP rankings, claiming wins over Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi during a professional career that spanned nearly ten years. He reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2000 and represented the United States in the Davis Cup that same year.

Tennessee associate head coach Chris Woodruff
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For all that success, the Knoxville, Tennessee native's professional career got off to a rocky start. He struggled to adapt his game to the professional level when the NCAA title began opening doors to him. As the losses mounted, his confidence began to suffer, leaving Woodruff with doubts about his game and his career choice. In an interview last month, Woodruff looked back at his own career, and in this question and answer session, provides his thoughts on the importance of playing at the right level.

Questions and Answers

Colette Lewis (CL): What were the mistakes you see as you look back on your tennis career?

Chris Woodruff (CW): Not playing at the right level after I won the NCAAs single-handedly set my career back two, three years, to the point where it almost drove me out of the game.

You look at someone like myself, who was relatively successful in college, was used to winning a lot, and then all of a sudden, you win the NCAAs, receive wild cards into professional tournaments, and the next thing you know you wind up going from playing at the college level to playing guys who are Top Ten in the world. That happened repeatedly, and therefore I had no confidence, my confidence was stripped.

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