By Krystle Nicole Russin
Ages ago, as you recall, I interviewed Luke Jensen for the site, during which he stressed college sports. He insisted players develop strongly during these years. Too often, promising kids get blinded by the limelight, lifestyle and money turning pro could provide – but turning pro, they learn in time, doesn’t guarantee a top 100 spot. This, of course, counteracts the complaint every young guy has: “By the time I’m out of school, I’ll be too old to do much, too inexperienced, too…too…too…”
It’s almost time for the US Open and thinking back years ago, I recall someone telling me about the “Georgia boy” playing the pro circuit for the first time. Back then, nobody reported on his first US Open match. I didn’t think much of it myself. I was interested in grilling outside. You see players come and go, new ones every year, so to me it wasn’t a big deal. He was just another “Georgia boy” sort of-kind of-maybe making it sort of big. Back then, the top men weren’t all college graduates. They were the pros bypassing college, who lucked out for some reason or another.
John Isner’s rise into, give him a year, the top American spot makes sense. College is THE place to fine tune your skill and save a few bucks. Regular academy training is expensive. There’s the question of where do I get my necessities? Where do I train the rest of the time? A top university gives a player excellent facilities, equipment, world league coaching, a different competitive style found in the NCAA and eliminates the old been there, done that a player discovers training in the same environment. College is the opportunity to change so you WILL take the top 100 by storm versus the black hole rep it’s earned.
People throw around examples of raw talent discovered out in South America and so forth, but really, at the core of the matter, for every example of someone striking gold right away at 20, there are hundreds more young players who never did. Let’s hope guys like Isner encourage more hopefuls to enter college as a means of more than a good education – to hit up their skills. If nothing works out anyway, a tennis scholarship includes a decent discount on an education.
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