Every student-athlete dreams of getting a degree from their first choice of college, all while getting to continue playing their sport. Hearing the stories of tennis pros like John Isner (University of Georgia, Class of 2007) and Danielle Collins (University of Virginia, Class of 2016), you probably can’t help but wonder how they made it. How did they get started on their journey towards college when they were just around your age? Did going to the right school really make an impact on their pro tennis career? More importantly, how did they do it?
The saying “the grass is greener on the other side” might sound overrated, but in some cases, it is in fact quite true. Say what you will about your home country, but you can’t deny that opportunities for aspiring tennis pros are plenty abroad. For starters, being trained at an international level trumps simply training locally––it’s like staying within your comfort zone all your life. It is always better to be exposed to the international scene, where you would encounter opponents of varying skill levels and styles. Also, limited options for colleges with a tennis varsity mean limited tournaments, which often translate to limited opportunities to train further and become pro eventually.
Which leads us to further elaborate why a collegiate athletic program in the US can offer a whole lot more. Not only does it grant better opportunities, but it also builds up a student-athlete’s character that no other experience can. It’s all about going beyond your comfort zone, which is crucial in the collegiate level because that’s really where you learn how to compete. Imagine being the big fish in a little pond your whole life––sounds unappealing, doesn’t it? Taking risks and giving it your all is the way to go.
The whole journey (from getting in to staying in) is definitely not as easy as it looks. Also, making a decision gets nerve-wracking when there are just a lot of factors to weigh in – from distance to campus culture and athletic programs. But perhaps this guide can show you a thing or two.
The Journey Before the Actual Journey
Every dream has to start somewhere–and for the soon-to-be college athlete, it often starts at the beginner stage. This is a basic but also a crucial part of player development, as this is where you first learn all the fundamentals of the sport. The best way to gain this would be at an academy program, where you receive formal training tailor-fitted to your style and learning speed.
Next, you move on to the intermediate level. You join tennis tours, play tournaments locally and internationally, and also get to join camps. You get exposed to other players of various levels and see how they are on the court. Here in DreamBig Events, we’re all about providing a platform for young athletes in Asia that is positive, motivating, and challenging.
After all, being a college athlete in the U.S. has long proven to be a good stepping stone for these young athletes to develop their athleticism and compete at a global stage. Ever since its founding back in 2016, DreamBig Events has ran tours and camps (both in Asia and the U.S.) that serve to orient these young athletes with the college recruiting process and experience a day in the life of a college athlete in the U.S.
The third stage would be the advanced level and how it’s all about garnering the right opportunities for your would-be athletic career. Whether it’s getting to know the right mentors or playing enough games to further push your limits, any athlete at this stage knows that opportunities are everything.
And finally, the proficient stage. In this part, it’s all about maximizing the opportunities you’ve gained–and what better way to do so than having the right counselling for prospective colleges? This is where companies like AddedSport come in. Great counselling requires having the right mentors, and who better to mentor you than someone who has also been in your shoes already? Never underestimate the advantage of experience, so they say.
A great mentor will help you as you discern which college to go to, as well as how to stay on top of both your grades and the court. As you can see, each part of this journey is essential in order to get to the U.S. collegiate level. It’s important to trust the process as you go through each and every step here, because they all form the bigger picture. Hence it’s about time you start joining (more) tournaments and making things happen.
Because the more you get exposed to the different playing fields, the more you become aware of various opportunities out there––including U.S. college tennis. Once you’ve had a grasp of these opportunities, then the better you’re able to make the right choice of college when the time comes. It’s worth noting that it’s not just about which college matches you and would set you up for success, but also about which one is most in line with your long-term goals.
And if you haven’t exactly have everything figured out yet, then that’s all right. You can always retrace your steps right here. At the end of the day, it’s about finding the college that feels both an academic and athletic fit for you. Yes, knowing the process does not automatically make it easier. But hey–it does give you a good sense of direction, as well as a starting point on working towards your goal.