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College Commitment
Countdown: Army Strong on the Courts, Too

Special from the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, HRVarsity.com
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Looking to become a leader in turbulent times? Geoff Holm has no doubt where you should develop the skills.

Alex Van Velzer is heading to West Point this Fall
© Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
"As a 22-year-old, I know that I'm in charge of 65 million dollars worth of equipment and 30 or 40 people's lives," says Holm, an air-defense officer who graduated in May 2009 from the United States Military Academy and now is an assistant coach for its men's tennis team. "That's the kind of leadership that you don't get going to Princeton or (another) one of the Ivies, or a big state school."

Holm says many folks have misconceptions about what goes on in West Point, N.Y.

"People have the wrong idea," the former Black Knights team manager from Fredericksburg, Va., says. "They think they're gonna be on the ground, on the front lines."

That's understandable, given the war on terror and the constant drumbeat of conflict in places such in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But actually, Holm says, "there's a wide range of jobs through the Army that translate directly into the civilian world," such as doctor, lawyer or financial officer. "You know that you're gonna be in charge of a lot of stuff and a lot of people. [Prospective bosses know you've] already had management experience."

That's part of the appeal that suddenly has made the USMA a surprising top destination for young tennis players. In January, a voting panel assembled by the Tennis Recruiting Network ranked the Black Knights of the Hudson as having the ninth-best men's recruiting class of 2010.

Army was amid a collection that included four teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, three each from the Pacific-10, Southeastern Conference and Ivy League and two from the Big Ten.

That's heady territory for a team that has been well beyond easy marching distance from the ITA's top 25. But the Cadets have developed a strong tradition in the Patriot League, winning nine titles and appearing in the conference championship match 15 times in the 16 seasons that the PL tournament has been played in a dual format.

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