The transition from high school and junior tennis to college tennis can be a challenge for many players. But entering the college game with the right mindset will help you to make a smooth transition. Focus on these five areas, and you will be well on your way to a successful college career.
1. Drills/Practice Style - Most college teams have players from many different parts of the country, and often, many parts of the world. Along with a diverse group of players come players who have experienced many different coaching styles. While it is always a good idea to ask coaches (during the recruiting process) about the types of training they utilize, players should expect workouts and practices that might vary somewhat from their previous training. Entering the college tennis experience with an open mind, in regard to training, will help you achieve your greatest level of success.
2. Prepare to be pushed - As a junior player, your coach (private coach) benefits monetarily from being your coach. In a majority of cases, player growth and improvement is at the top of the list of priorities for private coaches, and deservedly so. But understandably, in some situations, coaches must also include potential monetary loss or gain as a factor, when determining how to handle player/coach relationships and training. As a scholarship player, the roles are suddenly reversed, with the player receiving scholarship money (in many cases) to meet the demands of the coach. The change in player/coach relationship often leads to a more aggressive coaching style that may be unfamiliar to some players. For many players this is a welcome change, and can often lead to performing at a very high level. For other players, the transition can be challenging.
3. Indoors, Outdoors, Wind, and Clay - College tennis is an international game. Players from all over the world commonly attend American colleges and universities, big and small. Additionally, a high concentration of talented players in warmer parts of the country means that many players attend college in climates different from their own. Always remember there is no asterisk next to match results. The results are 6-2, 6-3; not 6-2, 6-3 *wind was blowing 15 miles per hour and the temperature was 58 degrees. Be prepared to play in adverse conditions.
4. Team! Team! Team! - In college tennis the team is first. For many international players, it is their first time competing in a “team” environment. For domestic players, the level of intensity and pressure in college matches is often far greater than they may have experienced previously. However, the team aspect of college tennis should not be seen as a burden, but a benefit that will help you to push yourself and your teammates to a new level. And perhaps more importantly, the “team” environment of college tennis helps you to develop relationships that will last a lifetime.
5. Talent Abounds - Many junior players entering the college game are very accustomed to success. The level of talent in the college game is extremely high, even at lesser-known schools in far-flung locations. Very talented players are everywhere. The talent level can be a little shocking to players coming off of very successful high school/junior careers. It is important to recognize that hard work may not lead to immediate success, or a spot in the lineup. You have to accept that it is okay to try your best and fail. Keep working hard, stay positive, and support your teammates. Your day will come...
By Coach Ryan Carney
Head Men's & Women's Tennis Coach
Missouri Valley College