Being at the Junior Grand Slam tournament is a great experience. When I was at the last US OPEN I was able to coach junior player as also I was fortunate enough to watch professional tennis players and learn from them. But I was not the only one who came to US OPEN with mission.
Grand Slam tournament is the most important event for any player. Professional tennis players come there to earn money and win trophies. Junior tennis players come to see „the real” world of tennis, market themselves and watch own athletic idols. Tennis coaches are present because it is their job but they also use every minute of this competition to learn what others do and how they approach different aspects of tennis development. There are also fans who want to watch great games. That’s it? Not really. Let’s not forget about college coaches.
College coaches come to the highest grade tournaments to watch prospects and see how they behave under solid amount of pressure. From the recruiting perspective it is a great opportunity to watch players, talk to them, compare them and try to get them signed for own team. From the player’s perspective the story is completely different. Every player has own individual goals but the reality is that they have to make decision. Should I try going pro? Do I have a chance to get to the top 100? Should I go to college? Should I focus on education? The answer is not easy but most of the time players make bad decision. They pick only one option…
Maybe you are surprised by my theory but YES you can choose differently. If pro career is the most important thing for you, you have financial support and your team is ready to help you – don’t think about anything else and play. On the other hand if you would like to get diploma or your club doesn’t guarantee good hitting partner and quality professional coaching then your better option is to play for college team. BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO GO TO US WITH THE THOUGHT THAT YOU WILL NEVER PLAY PRO TENNIS ANYMORE!!!
You can disagree with me but look at the facts. Currently there are 43 male players in top 100 ATP who are over 30 years old. That’s the truth. It simple means that you can crack top 100 at the age of 28 so if you make the decision about your future at 19 you won’t have a chance to check your potential. There are some young guns who quickly achieve great results but 43% of top 100 players are experienced guys who were working for many years to secure this spot. Got it now?
That’s the lesson for today. If you decide to go to college never cross off your chances to become the next Rafa Nadal. Go to college with approach that it is your preparation for professional career. You have there great conditions to take care of all important tennis aspects and additionally you get diploma as a bonus! Work hard and I want to see you on TV lifting the trophy at 30 years old.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 60 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.