Elizabeth Plotkin's Heart Is Her Guide
Ten years ago, Elizabeth Plotkin of San Francisco was the No. 1
prospect on TennisRecruiting.net. Some thought she would go pro, but
she her heart led her to Duke. Four years later, some thought she'd be
a great investment banker. For a time she was, but her heart led her
again. Plotkin joined Teach for America, and soon found herself teaching
in low-achieving, inner-city schools. Todd Holcomb got the chance to catch
up with Plotkin in another edition of Where Are They Now?
Clay Thompson: One Year After UCLA
Former UCLA standout Clay Thompson ended his first full year on the
professional circuit with a semifinal finish at the JSM Champaign
Challenger, but the year had started quite differently. Thompson
learned that life on the tour was nothing like it had been playing
There's been nothing meteoric about Austin Krajicek's climb into the
ATP Top 100. The 25-year-old Floridian has methodically advanced in
the rankings since 2011, when he embarked on a pro career after his
final season of eligibility at Texas A&M, reaching the elite level
of professional tennis for the first time last month. Colette Lewis
of ZooTennis.com caught up with Krajicek last week in Illinois.
Countdown: Checking In with Jamie Hunt
Jamie Hunt was ranked as high as No. 2 by TennisRecruiting.net when he
signed with Georgia in 2006. Hunt won the U.S. Open Junior doubles
title and is the only junior player in history to win the Easter Bowl
doubles titles in the 14s, 16s and 18s. Today he is Associate Head Coach of
Men's Tennis at Vanderbilt. We caught up with Hunt in the latest edition
of Where Are They Now?
Conversation With Former NCAA Champion Jeff Morrison
Jeff Morrison was a strong junior player - but he was never in
contention for a USTA junior national title. After committing to
the University of Florida and playing No. 4 as a freshman, Morrison
overcame injury his sophomore year and won the NCAA singles title
over Harvard's James Blake - followed by a seven-year professional
career where he achieved a world ranking of No. 85. We catch up with
Morrison in our latest "Where Are They Now" article...
Conversation With Former NCAA Champion Amanda McDowell
Atlanta native Amanda McDowell was the NCAA women's singles champion
in 2008 as a sophomore. Injuries dogged her during the final two years
of her college career, but she had two more productive years at Georgia Tech
and made a nice go of it on the pro tour, getting as high as No. 450
in the world before calling it a career in 2012. Todd Holcomb caught
up with McDowell - who has since moved from the tennis court to the
court of law.
Kopinski Twins Finish with Illini and Take to the Circuit
Twins playing college tennis is certainly not unusual. The Bryans made
their mark on Stanford and the Thompsons at Notre Dame, just to name
two. What is out of the ordinary is twins playing for the same school,
but not on the same team. Melissa and Tim Kopinski just finished four
strong years on the University of Illinois' women's and men's teams,
respectively. They sat down to talk about how they ended up playing
for the Illini and what's next for them.
Q&A With Former Vanderbilt All-American Chris Groer
In 1996, Chris Groer became the first All-America tennis player in the
history of Vanderbilt University. He was also Vandy's first Academic
All-American in tennis. Tennis remained a constant in his life -
playing on the ATP Tour for a few years and now playing recreationally
at a high level. We caught up with Groer to talk about his college
tennis memories and his thoughts on the college game and its players
Conversation with Trinity Star Scott Levy
Scott Levy played tennis for Trinity College in Connecticut back in
the early 2000s, where he was a big contributor for the Bantams.
During his senior season in 2004, Levy posted a 14-2 record in singles
and - with partner Jimmy Ames - a 10-3 mark in doubles. Levy graduated
with career marks of 49-27 in singles and 22-9 in doubles with Ames.
Harry Cicma of NBC Sports chatted with Levy about his experiences with
junior and college tennis...
Q&A with Utah State's Clancy Shields
At age 28, Clancy Shields is a rising star among men's tennis head
coaches. His Utah State team, which went 9-16 in Shields' first season
last year, finished 2015 with an 18-9 record and a second-place finish
in the Mountain West Conference. It was only ten years ago that
Clancy Shields was literally one of the original blue chips - ranked
No. 3 nationally among high school seniors in TennisRecruiting.net's
first-ever rankings. We caught up with Shields toward the end of the
Countdown: Conversation with Williams Champ Urban
It's been a few years since Lex Urban walked the campus of Williams
College in Massachusetts. Back in the early 2000s, Urban served as
captain of the Ephs Men's Tennis Team that won the NCAA Division III
National Championship in both 2001 and 2002. After graduating, Urban
spent a year doing community service in AmeriCorps - and he now is a
practicing lawyer in Washington, DC. Harry Cicma of NBC Sports chatted
with Urban about all things college tennis...
Checking in with Former USC Standout Amanda Fink
It's been 10 years since Amanda Fink was a Blue Chip senior. Fink went
on to be a two-time All-American at USC and competed
professionally for almost three years - rising into the Top 300 in the
world. TennisRecruiting.net recently caught up with Fink, who is now a
teaching pro, and she lets us in on the most under-utilized training
strategy for junior players.
Catching Up with Gator Great Lauren Embree
Lauren Embree had one of the most successful collegiate careers in
Florida history, leading the Gators to back-to-back NCAA titles in
2011 and 2012. Now living in Santa Monica, Embree has begun the year
on the USTA Pro Circuit, where she has competed in four tournaments in
the past month. At the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic in Midland, Mich.,
last week, I spoke with her about her return from injury, what she
misses about college tennis, and her goals for 2015 and beyond.
Marissa Irvin and A Magical Racquet Ride
Marissa Irvin is one of those rare players who flawlessly made the
transition from the top of the junior rankings to the head of the
college rankings, and on to a fairly successful professional career.
She can now add award-winning author to her resume, but the tennis
book she wrote is not what you might expect.
An Interview with 2013 NCAA Champion and Rising ATP Star Blaz Rola
Football may reign over the sports kingdom at Ohio State, but 2013
NCAA champion Blaz Rola has done his part to raise tennis's visibility
in Columbus. Colette Lewis of ZooTennis talked with Rola at the Champaign,
Illinois Challenger last week covered many topics, including his first
year on tour, his decision to play college tennis, his plans for
off-season training and his schedule for early next year.
NCAA Champion Nicole Gibbs Moves Up
Nicole Gibbs won her first ITF Women's Circuit title at the age of 14,
finished high school a year early and joined the Stanford Cardinal in
the fall of 2010. After an illustrious career at Stanford where she
won the NCAA team, singles, and doubles titles, Gibbs elected to
forego her senior year and begin her professional career. Fresh off
two main-draw wins at the US Open, Gibbs is now ranked in the Top 100.
Colette Lewis of ZooTennis chatted with Gibbs at the Open.
Conversation with Former D-III Champion William Boe-Wiegaard
Former Bates standout William Boe-Wiegaard had one of the more amazing
runs in NCAA Division III tennis. He is the only Bobcat ever to be an
All-American all four years in college, and he capped things off with
an amazing run to the NCAA singles title his senior year as an
unseeded player. Since graduating, Boe-Wiegaard has been involved with
tennis as an instructor, and he has been competing professionally
since 2011. Harry Cicma of NBC Sports caught up with Boe-Wiegaard.
Conversation with UConn's Sam Sutherland
Stability has been a watchword of UConn tennis. Glenn Marshall, who
now serves as Director of Tennis, has overseen the tennis programs for
21 years. Michael Louis '04 took over as head coach of the men's
tennis program prior to the 2013-14 season. One of Louis' teammates as
a player at UConn was sam Sutherland '05, a standout from Tampa,
Fla. Harry Cicma of NBC Sports, who served as the commentator for
the live webcast of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, caught up with
SFA Interviews Danielle Lao
Jake Hartman of SFA sat down with Danielle Lao a former USC women’s
tennis player. Danielle is currently on the professional tennis tour,
and she recently wrote a book about her college tennis experience
titled The Invaluable Experience. She was interviewed about her
recruiting process, how she chose USC, and how her time there has
benefited her today.
Catching Up with Christi Turdo on College Tennis and the Invention of Hop-a-Razzi
Christi Turdo has been involved in tennis for over 30 years, from
playing in the juniors, college and pros, to teaching young players.
It was in the latter role that she also invented Hop-a-Razzi, a
revolutionary basket that modernizes ball retrieval. From her office
just outside Chicago, Turdo had a lot to say about choosing the right
college, what she learned from the playing experience, and how
Hop-a-Razzi came to be.
Catching Up with Megan Moulton-Levy
Megan Moulton-Levy is one of the most successful players to come out
of William and Mary. She was a six-time All American, four-time CAA
Player of the Year, and won the most singles and doubles (combined)
matches in the school's history. She was also well-known for her
demeanor on the court, and it was recognized twice with ITA National
Arthur Ashe Awards for Leadership and Sportsmanship. She now plays
doubles on the pro tour.
Former Cavaliers Huey and Inglot Reach ATP Doubles Heights
While teammates at the University of Virginia, Dom Inglot and Treat
Huey never played doubles together. But several years later, their
friendship led them to join forces on the ATP tour, where they are
currently ranked 14th in world.
Catching Up with Rising Pro Star Ryan Harrison
In 2007, when Ryan Harrison and his younger brother Christian
turned professional, there were many who criticized the move as too
soon, but five years later there's no doubt that he's in the place
he's supposed to be.
Talking with Jay Goldman
Jay Goldman was a standout tennis player for the Arizona Wildcats
between 2007 and 2011. At Arizona, Goldman competed primarily at the
top of the lineup. Goldman traveled to Tucson following a
storied junior career out of Worceser, Mass., and the IMG Academy
Tennis Program. Harry Cicma got the opportunity to catch up with
Goldman and discuss college tennis.
Canadian Levine Remains a Gator
Jesse Levine was a top U.S. junior who was on the cusp of turning
professional when he decided to give college tennis a whirl. He
brought his talent to Florida, where he was named ITA National Rookie
of the Year before turning pro after his freshman year. Now ranked No.
97 in the world, Levine will compete for Canada in their Davis Cup
quarterfinal tie against Italy next month.
Talking with Andrew Chmura
After success as a junior and college tennis player, Andrew Chmura has
built an adult career around the game. Chmura competed on the
satellite tour, has taught and encouraged tennis play, and he is
currently the president of Grand Slam Tennis Tours. Harry
Cicma caught up with Chmura to talk tennis - past and present.
Rhyne Williams Matures with the Vols and Hits Pro Circuit
As a junior tennis player, the two things Rhyne Williams was most
known for was his superior talent and his wild temper. As an
18-year-old, Williams chose college tennis at Tennessee over
professional tennis. After a successful run for the Volunteers as
a sophomore - winning the Indoors and reaching the finals of the
NCAA tournament - Williams felt the time was right to turn pro.
Life in the Pros for Christina McHale
Making the decision to turn professional is never easy for anyone.
Christina McHale gave it a long consideration before making the move
two years ago. Today, McHale has exceeded her career expectations.
She's currently ranked 24 in the world, has represented the United
States in the London Olympics, and has been a member of four Fed Cup
Brian Baker's Comeback Captivates US Juniors
Ten years ago, Brian Baker was playing the Wimbledon Juniors with
hopes and dreams for a professional tennis career. But a series of
health issues dashed those dreams. Just over a year ago, at age 26,
Baker finally felt ready to take another shot at professional tennis.
After some early successes, Baker went through qualifying at Wimbledon
without dropping a set, then won three more matches to bring his ATP
ranking to 76.
Talking With Jesse Levine
If you've followed American junior and college tennis over the past few years, you
probably recognize the name Jesse Levine. After a stellar junior
career, Levine played college tennis at Florida, where he was named
ITA Rookie of the Year while leading the team to the round of 16 and
making the quarters in both singles and doubles. Harry Cicma of NBC
Sports sat down with the former Gator and current ATP pro.
Eric Butorac Makes Huge Statement for Division III
Junior players who are focused on turning professional almost
always look exclusively at NCAA Division I schools when they are
considering colleges. But playing in another division doesn't have to
mean you don't stand a chance of having a career in pro tennis. Eric
Butorac is one player who has proven that.
Talking With Florida's Ryan Sherry
In college tennis, all six singles matches have the same value. Just
ask Ryan Sherry, who played for the Florida Gators from 2002 through
2006. As a junior, Sherry posted a 23-2 record at No. 6 singles. He
had the distinction of clinching every match for the Gators at the
2005 SEC Tournament in Athens, Ga., and he was named the MVP of the
event. Harry Cicma of NBC Sports recently sat down to talk with Sherry.
Taylor Dent: An Inspiration to Anyone
I love watching sports, I love playing sports, and I appreciate and
respect athletes that play the game with energy, passion, and
dedication. These are the values that I try and instill in my students
and staff every single day at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy.
Having Taylor Dent practicing on courts right next to them is a breath
of fresh air to our students.
Harry Cicma Goes One-on-One with John Isner
American tennis fans - and college fans in particular - have loved
watching the development of John Isner. He has made great strides in
his game, and his rankings reflect that progress - since turning pro
in 2007, his year-end ranking has gone from 106 (2007) to 144
(2008) to 34 (2009). He currently stands at No. 19, with hopes to
climb higher. Harry Cicma recently chatted with Isner about college
and pro tennis.
Catching Up with Sukhwa Young
Harry Cicma recently got the chance to sit down with Sukhwa Young, a
former Georgia Tech player and ATP professional tennis player. Cicma
and Young talked about junior, college, and professional tennis.
Catching Up with Vinay Bhamidipati
Harry Cicma recently got the chance to sit down with Vinay
Bhamidipati, a former New Jersey high school state champion who went
on to play college tennis at Columbia. Cicma and Bhamidipati talked
about junior and college tennis, life after competitive tennis, and
how tennis has helped prepare him for life.
Former Rutgers Captain Greg Schweitzer
Greg Schweitzer served as captain and played #1 at Rutgers
University. After a successful college career, Schweitzer went on
to earn a #75 world doubles ranking on the ATP tour. Harry Cicma
caught up with Schweitzer to talk about his career, the significance
of Rutgers and NCAA tennis, and advice he would give to junior tennis
Q&A with Carlos Brandon Florez
For freshman Carlos Brandon Florez, opportunity came knocking almost
as soon as he donned the Saluki maroon and white in fall 2009. The
number one player of the team graduated and the next in line was out
with an injury. Ali Jones caught up with Florez during the holiday
break to talk tennis, school, and his new life away from his family.
WTA Tour Player Julie Ditty Looks Back on Vanderbilt With Fond Memories
If you are going to miss your induction into your alma mater's Hall of
Fame, competing in the US Open certainly qualifies as a valid excuse.
Former Vanderbilt star and current WTA Tour player Julie Ditty was
competing in the main draw of the women's doubles event at the US Open
during her scheduled induction ceremony, so Ditty's family accepted
the award on her behalf.
Where Are They Now? Paul Goldstein
Few Kalamazoo competitors are remembered as fondly as Paul Goldstein,
who won three consecutive singles titles at the USTA Boys Nationals,
winning the 16s in 1992, and the 18s in 1993 and 1994. Add a doubles
title with Scott Humphries in 1994, and his sportsmanship award in
1992, and it's little wonder Goldstein was welcomed like an old friend
when he returned to Kalamazoo several weeks ago for the professional
exhibition that opens the event.
Conversation with Devin Britton
A year ago, Devin Britton was a Blue Chip senior in the Class of 2009.
After heading to Ole Miss in January to play the college dual season,
Britton is now the reigning NCAA singles champion - and he recently
made the decision to turn pro. Harry Cicma of NBC News caught up with
Britton to reflect on his recent past and look forward to the U.S.
Interview with "The Big Bozz"
Last week I got to spend a couple days with "The Big Bozz" - former
Illini and NCAA Champion Amer Delic - at beautiful Amelia
National Country Club in Amelia Island, Fla. A couple days of
training, golf, and family time, helped the big guy recharge the
batteries and get the body to a higher tennis fitness level.
1998 NCAA Champion Vanessa Webb
Vanessa Webb constantly looked for challenges as a young tennis
player: she was the NCAA women's singles champion in 1998, and she won
ten titles on the ITF women's circuit en route to a Top-100 ranking.
That same drive has led to success in the boardroom - where the Duke
and Wharton graduate already has a number of accomplishments in
international business. McCarton Ackerman caught up with Webb to reflect
on her tennis career and current endeavors.
Max Mirnyi - A Tall Tale of Success
Max Mirnyi has been training at the Academy for seventeen years, and
he's left a footprint here at least the size of our 300 acres. The
6'5" Belarusian has been such a fixture here at the Academy for so
long that he is considered family. Young players all look up to him
(literally and figuratively) when he shows up to practice. Veteran
players, coaches, staff, all respect and admire his talents and his
character. But, I can remember when Max wasn't so tall or
Conversation with John Isner
One of the best stories in American tennis over the past year is
that of John Isner. Hot on the heels of leading Georgia to a national
championship, Isner has had great success on the pro tour. Isner won
a string of three-set matches to reach the final of the Legg Mason
against Andy Roddick, and he followed that up by reaching the third round of the US
Open. Isner's successes have shined a bright light on college tennis.
Today, Isner takes time out to talk about his recent success.
Conversation with West Nott
One of the most popular contributors at TennisRecruiting.net is West
Nott. West has something insightful to say on every tennis topic
because he has done it all: competed at the junior, collegiate, and
professional levels... played Davis Cup... coached both
junior and college athletes... and covered tennis as a member of the
media. And he is only in his mid-twenties. West took the time to
talk with us about his past accomplishments.
Who's Driving the Bus? Talking with Andrew Park
An undeniable love and competitive passion for the game are two
intangible qualities of all great players, and Andrew Park showcases
all of these qualities. Andrew exhibited championship success at
every stage in his career - junior, collegiate, and professional. In
short, he captured the USTA Boys' 18 Hardcourt Nationals at Kalamazoo,
won a NCAA Team Championship with USC, and competed in the Main Draw
of the Men's US Open.
Moving Up With Nick Monroe
For my money, it doesn't get much better than 24 year-old Nick Monroe.
Nick is the quintessential definition of perseverance and willingness
to change - all rolled into one. The former UNC standout has seen
progression in his game from a young age to where it is today, only
198 ranking spots shy of the top 100 ATP.
Conversation with Ken Kigongo
Everyone in tennis seems to have an opinion about whether the top
junior players should opt to play college tennis or jump straight to
the professional ranks. One interesting voice in the crowd is that
of Ken Kigongo - the former standout at Michigan State. I got to chat
with Kigongo this summer about all things tennis - but especially his
decision to get his college degree.
Conversation with Jewel Peterson
One of the most decorated players in the history of the USC tennis program is
Jewel Peterson (College Park, Georgia). Peterson led USC to the NCAA
quarterfinals three different times - and to four season-end rankings
of #11 or higher. She was a four-time ITA All-American, a two-time
Academic All-American, and she reached the semifinals of the NCAA
singles championships. We caught up with Peterson last month.
Al Parker: A Most Amazing and Courageous Athlete
Back injuries have hampered or terminated the careers of many a great tennis player, like world champions Jack Kramer, Tony Trabert and Lew Hoad. They also impacted the winningest U.S. junior player of all time - Georgia's Middleton Albert (Al) Parker, Jr. Parker won a still-standing record of 25 USTA junior titles (13 in doubles and 12 in singles).
Conversation with Cary Franklin
In this month's "Where Are They Now?" article, we catch up with former University of Illinois standout Cary Franklin. As a junior player in the mid-90's, Franklin climbed as high as #30 in the Boys 18s, winning the doubles event at the USTA International Grasscourts with partner Eddie Coates. Franklin played his college tennis at Illinois, where he was a three-time All-American.
Conversation with Erin Burdette
In this month's Where Are They Now? article, we catch up with
Stanford University standout Erin Burdette. During her junior career,
Burdette was ranked as high as #1 in the USTA standings, finishing her
career in the top 10. Burdette went on to garner All-American honors
four times at Stanford - where she won NCAA championships in both
doubles and the team competition.
Conversation with Lesley Joseph
Our first conversation is with 23-year-old Lesley Joseph who attended the University of Georgia from 1999 to 2003. As a junior, Joseph attained rankings of #2 (USTA Boys 16s), #5 (USTA Boys 18s), and Top 50 (ITF). He is currently playing tennis professionally on the ATP Circuit.