American No. 1 and former Georgia Bulldog standout John Isner admitted today that without college he would not be a pro tennis player and among the very best in the world at the sport. Isner commented on the college game just after the NCAA tried to push a proposal through to change the collegiate tennis scoring system, altering from a best-of-3 format to two sets then a tiebreak.
Many players, past and present, were offended by the changes and eventually the NCAA caved and re-instituting the old format.
“Without college I wouldn’t be here today,” Isner said today after a 4-set win over Xavier Malisse at the US Open. “I can say that with 100% certainty. I wasn’t nearly good enough to go pro after high school. I didn’t even have pro aspirations. I got so much better at Georgia. Once I did get so much better, I realized that I could maybe play professional tennis. Like I said, without Georgia I wouldn’t be here right now, so for me it was the right decision. I had to go there. But, you know, everybody’s different.”
Isner added that with the game being as physical as it is, college may be a better option for young players.
“I feel like a lot of top Americans now are going the college route,” Isner said.
“The average age of the top 100 is 26. It’s not how it used to be in the ’80s and ’90s where you would have 19‑year‑olds, 20‑year‑olds inside the top 10 in the world. It doesn’t happen like that now. In my opinion, it takes longer for guys to develop. Look at Mardy Fish. He’s playing his best tennis and he’s 30. He played his best tennis last year at 29. A guy like Tipsarevic is playing his best tennis at 27, I think same age as me. The game has gotten more physical and more mature, for sure.”
Isner advanced into the second round today and next he’ll face Jarkko Nieminen on Friday.
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With the rising age of top tennis stars, the collegiate system can be a great way for Americans to regain success in the sport. College means they get free training and constant competitive practice and when they get out of college at the age of 22 they are still not too late to start and grow in the pro tour.
Additionally tennis is available to kids who are not super rich either because they can get scholarships to college which will provide them with the coaching and the experts (nutritionist, physical trainers, etc), so it opens the pro tour to more people.
The success of the collegiate stars this US Open is not surprising at all. I only expect future college stars to get better.
August 30th, 2012 at 1:54 am