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All-Americans vs. Futures

The ITA All-American Championships are in the books, and having spent time talking with both players and coaches during the events, what constantly seemed to come up in conversation with whoever I talked to was the strength of college tennis - and why some players felt the need to take the pro route instead of playing college tennis.

College tennis vs. futures tennis has long been a debate for top amateur tennis players. This article is not meant to take a stance either way, or to say one way is right and another is wrong. It rather provides data and analysis and allow people to draw their own conclusions.

Tennis players are constantly measuring themselves against their peers; perhaps it is because tennis is a one-on-one game, or perhaps it is due to the nature of rankings. Regardless, it makes them competitive with each other on and off court, and players turning pro is a hot topic amongst college players, especially when the players turning pro are players that collegians may have had success against in the past.

Questions abound... NCAA singles champions Devin Britton and Mallory Cecil both left college to turn pro this summer. Chase Buchanan decided to head back to Columbus. Jacqueline Cako and Alison Riske decided to skip enrolling in college this fall. Melanie Oudin, a peer to the younger college players, set the world on fire in September with her run in New York. Which path is the right one? Could that have been me?

The typical argument for turning pro usually revolves around the supposed need for "better" competition. Why play college tennis when you can be playing entry level pro tennis, either futures (men) or 10k's and 15k's (women)? University of Pacific men's coach Matt Lucas sent a text from Tulsa saying that he thought that the All-American was tougher than any future, so I decided to do some digging. I took a look at the tournaments taking place in early October and wanted to see where the better competition actually resided.

On the female circuit, there were five events at the introductory level that took place the week of 5 October, and I have listed them below with the level of tournament - as well as the cut-off ranking for main draw acceptance.

Tournament Ranking Cut-off
Spain 10k 747
Turkey 10k 710
Italy 10k 992
India 10k unranked
USA 10k unranked

For the men, there were 14 events that took place at the same time as All-Americans, and they too are below with both level and cut-off.

Tournament Ranking Cut-off
France 15+H- 496
India 15k- 1130
Chile 10+H- 1251
Kazakhstan 10k- 1105
Mexico 10k- 1016
Thailand 10k- 1221
Italy 10k- 831
Tournament Ranking Cut-off
Spain 15k- 1189
Austria 15k- 1114
Argentina- 1181
Venezuela 10k- 1282
Germany 10k- 761
Brazil 10k- 1519
Greece 10k- 1502

From here, I had to figure out a way to gauge the toughness of the college players. The method I settled on was to take all of the main draw players on both the men's side and the women's side and then to look up their highest pro ranking. From here I put every main draw player in order and made a pseudo-entry list. It is important to note that some players played full-time before school to get their ranking to a certain point, while others only played part-time or during summer breaks. This means that some players might have high ranks that were actually above their level while others have high ranks that might be below their level. I think the discrepancies cancel each other out.

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Page updated on Sunday, October 06, 2019
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