Regarding USTA PD

Earlier this week, I received the following letter from a coach based in California. He stated in his intro to me that he was sending the letter to several people in hopes that it would help all of us formulate our thoughts on where USTA Player Development should go from here. The letter has already appeared on ZooTennis as well.

4 September 2014

An open letter from a private tennis coach regarding USTA Player Development

Yesterday, it was announced that Patrick McEnroe will leave his position as General Manager of USTA Player Development. While there has been much discussion over the past years about what role USTA player development should have in the tennis world in the US, I thought it timely to share my thoughts with regard to this matter.

I only address the issue of player development from my own perspective as a junior coach for the last 25 years.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have some very talented juniors that I’ve been able to work with over the years.  I’ve dealt with every age group from ten year old boys to 18 year old girls. Some good sectional USTA players, to top Junior ITF players and everything in between.  Since I’ve always worked as a private coach, never in an academy setting, and usually with only one player at a time, I’ve always had to partner with other coaches, academies, and other organizations that could provide practice environments.

Perfection is an elusive goal and I’m not perfect, I’ve made my share of mistakes in my coaching as does every coach and every organization.  But the USTA PD has been an organization that has never welcomed me and my players no matter which door I’ve knocked on.  So at some point, I simply gave up. And I know a lot of coaches who have experienced exactly the same thing.  So I didn’t feel as though I was the only one.  It is interesting that, as a private coach from the US, with talented players, I have had better access to training with other countries PD federations than with our own.  Over the past year, the young man I coach and I have been invited to train with the Canadian, Danish, French, Spanish and Columbian Tennis Federations, some of which we were able to take advantage of, some invitations just couldn’t be coordinated with our schedule.  On the occassions when I asked the USTA for such access, we received emails saying,

“yes absolutely”,

then,

“well, we are very full around that time, but we will work something out”,

to

“we are court constrained, there will be some time, but limited”,

then when the time came

radio silence.

And this to a player who is a top 20 US Player based on ITF ranking, a Blue Chip (top 25) based on tennis recruiting ranking, but a player who has not played significantly in the USTA juniors over the past year, but has been as high as top 15 in USTA National Rankings.  What on earth happens to those up and coming kids who want to take the next step and do not have a high ranking?

What could I envision as a supportive PD environment? And it’s worth repeating that I’m only talking about developing the skills of relatively elite players—not what do we do to get more kids to play.  I’ll leave that to people who know more than I about getting parents to see the benefits of tennis over other sports options they may have available to them.

My PD wish list is relatively straightforward.

  • Support the coaches in the private sector, don’t compete with them.
  • Create an open environment for players at various levels to come practice with each other.
  • Provide more financial assistance for players at a certain level to travel to

tournaments around the world and play and practice with the best. This is now a global sport.

  • Provide support for ancilary services such as physical training, nutrition education, sports psychology, etc.
  • Provide a better junior tournament environment that encourages more players and encourages the best players to play. But be reasonable, unless they are from a section/region where there is appropriate competion, it’s not reasonable to expect a player that is pursuing ITF level competition to compete in a sectional tournament in order to obtain a ranking to play in National level events.
  • A coordination service run by the USTA that tracks where players are at any given time and tries to put players of similar levels in touch with each other so that they might practice together.
  • Provide help in a consulting fashion from specialized coaches.  A great example is some court time with Jose Higueres (one of the best clay court coaches) before the clay season.  (Todd Martin, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, etc. all sought out that kind of help from him.)
  • Facilitate a mentoring environment among our junior players.

Just these basic services, were they available to all who meet some defined, established criteria would be very useful.  One might see private coaches seeking out these services and as a result one might see private coaches broadening their views and making use of these various tools provided by our PD federation.

While I do NOT hold Patrick McEnroe responsible for all the shortcomings of USTA PD and while I don’t believe his departure will remedy or change everything, it is a good time to throw the various views of what our federation could do into the mix.  Maybe we can come up with some new answers, or make use of some tried and true solutions, or maybe just examine things from the perspective of “the way it is now” and not try to apply old rules that worked in the past, but don’t really apply to our sport today.

I will throw this letter out to various people who might want to raise these types of possibilities as the dialogue develops as to who will take over player development for the USTA.  Perhaps some of these ideas may become discussion points.

Sincerely,

Thom Billadeau

TennisAdvisor, llc

Palm Springs, CA

Another Side of Junior Tennis

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Getting ready to play!

This past weekend, I was exposed to a very different side of junior tennis competition, the Special Pops Fall Classic Tournament. It was like nothing I had ever seen – players and parents and coaches and supporters grinning ear to ear, cheering each other on, hugging at the side changes, gently correcting each other’s mistakes, and generally just finding the joy in being on the tennis court. Incredible!

Let me give you a little background . . . Special Pops Tennis was started by a group of tennis enthusiasts in the Atlanta area in the early 1990s. Its mission is two-fold: (1) To consistently provide a meaningful year-round tennis experience to children and adults with intellectual disabilities; and (2) To provide every person with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in a meaningful tennis experience. It became a stand-alone 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2005 and has sustained itself through incredible volunteers, fundraising, and sponsors.

At the US Tennis Congress a few weeks ago, I sat with a young woman – Jessica – from Alabama (by way of Argentina and Germany) who is a former top junior player, college player, and professional. She has been coaching juniors and adults for the past couple of years and recently started her own program for both developmentally and physically disabled kids. We chatted at dinner and she enlightened me on all the tennis programs available to that population. Last week, she was in Atlanta for a Special Pops fundraiser and invited me to come out to the Fall Classic so I could see for myself what this amazing organization is doing. I’m so glad I went!

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Coach Jessica & Shelby

I had the opportunity to hang out with Jessica and her 17-year-old player, Shelby, and to watch Shelby and her peers in action. This was actually Shelby’s first tournament – she had only been on a tennis court 5 times prior to the event – but she went on the court and competed like a champion! Although she only won 2 points in her first match (matches are 2 out of 3 short sets to 4 with a tiebreaker in lieu of a 3rd set; along with the players, each court has 2 ballkids, an official, and a helper), she came off court with a huge smile on her face, so proud of her accomplishment. Coach Jessica was beaming, too, as was I. I found out after the event that Shelby, on top of all her excitement and new friends, won the Sportsmanship Award, given to one boy and one girl. As Coach Jessica put it, it was the “cherry for the ice cream”!

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Shelby with her Sportsmanship Award

The joy out there was absolutely palpable. And how ironic that a USTA Regional Segment tournament was going on at the same facility at the same time. When you walked by the courts where the USTA kids were competing, you could feel the stress and pressure coming from them. I chatted with one USTA mom, and she was lamenting the lack of fun on her son’s court as compared to these other courts. She agreed with me that we could all learn something from watching the Special Pops kids in action. Excellent sportsmanship, love of the game, enjoyment of being with friends, parental support – all of these were givens in the Fall Classic; sadly, not so much in the Regional Segment.

Don’t get me wrong – the Special Pops competitors want to win just as much as anyone else. The difference I saw, though, was, win or lose, it was all about having the opportunity to be on the court, playing tennis, doing something they love. And, once the match was over, the result was pretty much forgotten, and the focus shifted to hanging out with friends and watching others play.

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Joy & Jack Prettyman

Lucy Caldwell, mom to 23-year-old Gray, one of this year’s competitors, told me how much it means to Gray and their entire family that he has a competitive outlet just like his sisters (who competed in gymnastics and soccer growing up). And Joy Prettyman, mom to Jack (age 19) and a long-time volunteer and supporter of Special Pops, reinforced the importance of giving kids with developmental disabilities the chance to learn and compete in the same sports that they see their siblings and peers playing. Jack’s older brother was a high-level junior player, and Joy competes in local leagues herself, so tennis is definitely a family affair for them.

It turns out that one of my neighbors (and ALTA teammates) and her family are very involved with Special Pops. Sally Berry’s daughter, Hadley (age 25), has been playing in Special Pops events since its inception. She plays singles, and she also plays “adaptive” doubles with her aunt, Judy Frankel. I saw all of them at this tournament and had the chance to talk with Hadley about her favorite part of competing. For her, it’s about seeing friends and playing the sport that her mom and aunt love so much, but it’s also about winning medals! Between her own matches, Hadley made her way to all of the courts to cheer on her buddies as they played. Since she’s been around for such a long time, she knows pretty much all the players out there and made the effort to meet the newbies among them. I guess you could call her one of the Special Pops Ambassadors!

I chatted with Serena Trout whose son, Tyler (age 14), was competing in the Fall Classic.

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Brian, Bryce, Ryan, & Serena Trout

Her younger son, Bryce (age 11), plays USTA tournaments and was volunteering at this event. Rather than try to summarize what Serena shared with me, take a few minutes to listen to why she and her family value Special Pops:

And, let me tell you a bit about the cost of participating in the Special Pops Fall Classic. The entry fee for the 2-day tournament is $45.00. Included is (1) a hotel room for 2 nights; (2) a dinner dance for players and their parents and coaches; (3) on-site lunch both days for players, parents, and coaches; (4) snacks and drinks; (5) t-shirt; (6) gold, silver, or bronze medals for each participant. How do they do this, I wondered? I mean, our USTA junior events cost anywhere from $40-$150 and don’t include anything but a t-shirt and a plastic trophy. It’s all about the volunteers and the sponsors when it comes to Special Pops. Event directors spend the time cultivating relationships with area businesses who are all too happy to donate hotel rooms, food, and other items in exchange for the goodwill they gain (and their name on the back of the t-shirt!). These sponsor relationships are very highly valued, as you can imagine, and require constant attention, but it’s worth it when you see how much the families appreciate that effort and care.

I think we have a lot to learn from Special Pops. And, I hope our USTA tournament directors will consider taking a closer look at how Special Pops manages to create these incredible events. In any case, please look for similar programs in your area and have your junior player think about giving back in a very special way to our very special sport.

Things I Learned at the Open

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I know, I know. Y’all are sick to death of hearing about my week at the 2013 US Open. This will be my last article about it, PROMISE! So, please indulge me one more time as I share with you (and record for my own purposes) the things I learned at the Open.

First and foremost, I learned that Tennis Parents are Tennis Parents, whether our children are playing a tournament at the local public park for a plastic trophy or in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for a $2.6 million paycheck. We all have a hard time not showing emotion while our child is battling on the tennis court. We all do our best to stay focused on the process and not the result, and we all know a win is much more fun for everyone involved than is a loss. It’s that way in the juniors; it’s that way in college; and it’s that way at the highest level of the professional game. We all strive to show our children that we love them no matter the outcome. We all strive to instill a love and passion in them for this sport they’ve chosen to pursue. We all strive to surround them with knowledgeable, smart, caring coaches who can help them reach their potential.

Secondly, I learned that it truly does take a deep-seated love of the game in order to reach the highest levels in our sport. Achievements in tennis, for most, come slowly and over a very long period of time. They take incredibly hard work and dedication. If the love isn’t there, the success is unlikely to be there regardless of the talent level of the individual player.

I learned that tv commentators aren’t as unbiased as they may seem. Spending time in the CBS booth on Ashe, I had the opportunity to chat with some of the announcers between matches. Turns out, just like us, they have their favorite players and secretly root for them to win. Who knew?

I learned that having media credentials at an event like the US Open opens doors. Big doors. Fun doors. Doors that allow you to walk next to your favorite athletes and their parents and their coaches. Doors that allow you to go up and start a conversation with these folks and makes them want to engage with you in that conversation. However, the bolts on those doors shut tight when you just want to take a photo with the guy who will likely win  – who won – the tournament. Just sayin’.

I learned that every top-level player grew up hitting against a backboard. They used that time to practice various shots and styles, pretending to be their favorite pros as they honed their skills. They created games to play with their peers, using the wall as an impartial 3rd player. They have fond memories of those hours spent hitting against their toughest opponent, the one that always got one more ball back.

I learned that it’s really nice to make friends early in the tournament so you have people to sit with during meals and hang out with during rain delays or bum a ride “home” from late at night. I learned that the folks who hang out in the media room are all pretty nice and willing to help out a fledgling newbie trying to learn the ropes.

I learned that riding the train out to Larchmont at 2am is really pretty safe, and that there are taxis waiting at the station even at that ungodly hour. I also learned that chivalry still exists in the world as evidenced by the young man who gave up his seat in said taxi so I wouldn’t have to wait alone at the station so late at night (early in the morning?).

I learned that a $20 food allowance can go a long way, even at the US Open. It takes some creativity and willingness to adjust your eating habits, but it can be done! I also learned that coffee is free in Media Dining. All day and all night. That helped a lot.

I learned that I want to see my son succeed in tennis, NOT because I care about rankings or where he goes to college or whether he turns pro so much as because I’ve met some incredible people through my own association to the sport, and I want him to get to spend time around those same folks. This sport is chock-full of junior coaches who know their stuff, of college coaches who embrace the challenge of taking 18 year old children and helping them grow into 22 or 23 year old incredible adults, of journalists who take a personal interest in the players they follow, of former top players who want to give back to the game that gave them so much. Who wouldn’t want their child to be in the company of these amazing human beings?

I learned that I really and truly love the game of tennis. I love being around the players and the coaches and the parents and the photographers and the writers and the commentators and the statisticians and the manufacturers and the stringers and the fans. I love being able to see behind the proverbial curtain into the inner-workings of this sport and learn what makes everything tick. I hope to have many more opportunities to see more, to learn more, and to share it with those of you patient enough to get all the way through my ramblings.

Before I close, I absolutely have to give a huge shout-out to Melanie Rubin, Meredith Corsillo, Colette Lewis, Sandra Hewitt, Marcia Frost, Pat Mitsch and, most of all, Sol Schwartz who suggested I apply for media credentials in the first place. All of these people taught me and supported me through my very first foray into sports reporting, and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude! And, to my husband, of course, who supports me every single day in everything I do.

Okay, that sounded a little like an Oscar acceptance speech – sorry!

I hope you enjoyed my reports from Flushing Meadows as much as I enjoyed preparing them for you. Now, as they say on tv, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

 

 

 

Action Steps & Why I’m Going to Take Them

Given that it seems to be crunch time with the last-minute scheduling of the first two “listening” meetings, I have spent countless hours over the past few days going over the proposed changes to the 2014 junior competition schedule, talking to very experienced people about them, and trying to understand the “why” behind them. I have come to the conclusion that, tennis-wise, there is nothing in the proposal that helps our kids and plenty that has the potential to hurt them. So, I am choosing to tell USTA in no uncertain terms that I want them to throw out the proposed changes – just get rid of them entirely – and start over. Use the research and data that the Junior Competition Committee has been collecting over the past two years to help determine what, if anything, needs to be changed, then engage knowledgeable tennis minds to create and build it.

For those who say I’m only opposing the changes because of personal reasons, that is absolutely 100% correct. I’m a parent looking out for the best interests of my son. I would hope that every tennis parent reading this is evaluating the proposed changes for him/herself and deciding what best suits his/her child, too. USTA is a very large organization that probably will never make every one of its members happy. I see my role as a blogger to share my experiences and any information I can glean from those who are way more experienced than I am.  But, my posts are intermixed with personal opinion – my personal opinion – so please keep that in mind.  And, if you have a different opinion, I always welcome you to share it in the Comments section of each post.

USTA keeps telling us that its mission is to grow the game of tennis while also trying to get more American players into the second week of the US Open – in other words, finding and developing the next generation of champions. We’re more likely to find a world-class player in a pool of 500,000 than 50,000, right? That makes perfect sense to me, and the 10-and-Under initiative seems to be doing a good job at bringing more kids into the sport, so kudos to USTA on solving that piece of the puzzle.

However, in order for kids to want to continue playing and developing, in order for kids to be willing to make the huge sacrifices required to reach the upper echelons of the sport, there have to be some concrete incentives. Like getting to play on regular courts with regular balls when you’re developmentally ready (not when your age determines you’re ready). Like getting to travel and compete with friends. Like having your whole family go together to a tournament so you’re playing in the same place as your brother and sister. Like having a way to earn the chance to play against the best players in the nation. Like having your tennis open the door to a college education.

And, in order for families to encourage their kids to stay in the sport, there have to be some concrete incentives for them, too. Like affordable travel options. Like minimizing time off from your job. Like the potential for financial support from your local or sectional or national USTA office for coaching or tournament fees or travel. Like knowing that if your child wants to play tennis at the collegiate level there will be ample opportunities – and scholarships available – for him or her to do so.

Eliminating tournaments and shrinking draws at the national level while doing nothing to ensure that the sections will pick up the slack is not the answer. I don’t know about other sections, but our Southern section tournament calendar is already pretty jam-packed throughout the year.

Please, ask yourself and those running the “listening” meetings – what was the impetus behind these proposed changes in the first place? I’ve heard USTA say that the changes were created to reduce travel, reduce school absences, and cut expenses for families, but the changes do none of those things. As one Middle-States parent shared with me, the new regional competition will actually increase her child’s number of missed school days from 10-16 per year to 20-24 depending on the number of tournaments they choose to attend.

Besides attending the “listening” meetings and strongly voicing my opposition, what else can I do? Contact the president of my section (click here for a complete list of USTA Sections and Presidents with email addresses) immediately and let him/her know that I’m opposed to these changes and that I want my section to vote accordingly at the next USTA Annual Meeting in March. Encourage my fellow tennis parents and coaches to do the same. Keep reading other resources so I stay on top of what’s happening in the world of junior tennis and have a working knowledge of the necessary steps to help my child be successful. Talk to the head of Junior Competition in my section and work together with his coach to devise a tournament schedule for my child that makes sense for my family. Most importantly, keep encouraging my child to play, to have fun, and to reach his own potential in tennis, whether that’s at the recreational level or at a more competitive pace, so that tennis stays a part of his life for now and years to come.

I have been told by one USTA insider that the current Junior Competition Committee – the group responsible for creating these proposed changes – is actually now 17-2 in favor of endorsing a proposal to call for a pause in the implementation of the changes. It will be voted on at the USTA Board’s December meeting. I can only hope this person’s intel is accurate!

NOTE: The proposed dates for the remaining “listening” meetings are as follows:

December 16: ITA Convention (for convention attendees only), Naples FL
December 26: 16s & 18s Winter Nationals, Scottsdale, AZ
December 27: 12s & 14s Winter Nationals, Tucson, AZ
Jan. 10-13: Southern Section annual meeting, Atlanta, GA
Feb. 15-17: Texas Section annual meeting, Grapevine, TX

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Parent/Coach Speaking Points for USTA Listening Meetings

I am working on compiling a list of speaking points that we can all use when attending the USTA listening meetings.  As you know, the next meeting is this Saturday, November 24th, in Rocky Hill, CT – for those of you in the area, please try to make it and, if you’re so inclined, give the rest of us a de-briefing afterward.

What I am hearing from USTA is that we need to present clear, detailed alternatives to the proposed junior competition changes.  These meetings were created as an opportunity for those in attendance to voice well-thought-out ideas that will improve junior tennis for our kids.  My hope is that those of us in the proverbial trenches can come together and show USTA a better way of doing business on behalf of our young players.

I have started compiling a list of speaking points based on the information I’m getting via your comments, emails, posts on other tennis blogs, etc.  But, I need your help!  Please email me ASAP at fitmom@bellsouth.net if you have thoughts on what should be included and/or if you’d like to see my initial draft.  I will continue working on this and tweaking it as needed until we have something concise and easy to understand that we can all use.  In the meantime, please keep spreading the word about the meeting dates – I have re-posted them below – so we are well represented.

Tennis parents rock!

The proposed dates for the remaining “listening” meetings are as follows:

November 24: Boys & Girls 14s National Open, Rocky Hill, CT
December 16: ITA Convention (for convention attendees only), Naples FL
December 26: 16s & 18s Winter Nationals, Scottsdale, AZ
December 27: 12s & 14s Winter Nationals, Tucson, AZ
Jan. 10-13: Southern Section annual meeting, Atlanta, GA
Feb. 15-17: Texas Section annual meeting, Grapevine, TX

“We” Won

I am very proud of my son.

In the Region 5AAAAA Final yesterday, my son’s team arrived at the courts ready to warm up with each other before playing their opponents.  The weather, however, had a different plan in mind, so the official asked both teams to go ahead and start their matches with a 5-minute warm-up in hopes of finishing before the thunderstorms arrived.

Our #1 singles player, Danny, had been sidelined most of the season with a neck and shoulder issue.  He had played the last couple of matches, but yesterday he had a follow-up appointment with his doctor and wasn’t yet at the courts.  So, the coach moved everyone up a spot in the lineup, putting my son in at #3 singles.

The boys went on court, began their warmup, then, before anyone played their first point, lightening struck.  Literally.

The rule in our county is that play must be suspended for 30 minutes following a lightening strike within 3 miles of the facility, so we all spent the next hour (yes, there was another strike just as they were heading back out to play!) huddled together inside one of the school buildings as we all checked the weather radar on our various smartphones, trying to predict whether the kids would actually get to play.

During the lightening delay, Danny arrived, reporting that he had been cleared by his doctor to play.  Since the matches hadn’t officially begun, our coach had the option of putting Danny back in the lineup . . . which he did.  That meant my son was going to be part of the cheering section instead of getting to play.  Disappointing, to be sure.

However, when the coach announced that Danny would be playing (and my son would not), my son just smiled and wished his teammates good luck.  He stood nearby and cheered for each and every match.  He encouraged the guys when they needed it and kept his game face on throughout the afternoon.  And, at the end of the day, when the final match was won and the championship trophy was in hand, he stood with his team, proud to share the victory (that’s him – with Danny’s hand around his shoulder – holding the trophy in the team picture above)!

My son, upon hearing he wouldn’t be playing in the championship match, could’ve argued with his coach.  He could’ve griped and sulked.  He could’ve stood alone.

But he didn’t.  He realized that it was in the best interest of the team to have their best player in the lineup at #1, even if it meant he didn’t get to play.  It was all about the “we” – there was no “I” out there.

I am very proud of my son.

Danny Goes to College

There are several possible paths to playing college tennis.  What works for one player may not work for another.  As tennis parents, we have to learn as much as possible about our player’s options and try to help them navigate the proper path for their particular situation and needs.

A big thank-you to Dennis and Danny Bruce for sharing their journey with ParentingAces . . .

In the spring of his junior year of high school, Danny started getting letters of interest from about 20 or 30 college tennis coaches.  Most looked like form letters – the coaches were fishing, looking to build their prospect list.  Coaches have their wish list of players, and players have their wish list of schools.  It’s great when the player and the coach are on the same page with that list!

Danny, with dad Dennis’ help, looked at all the letters then responded to those on his own list which included about 10 schools.  Danny also wrote to his top-choice schools that hadn’t sent him a letter, expressing his interest in their programs.  Several of the coaches wrote back, asking which upcoming tourneys Danny was playing so they could see him in action and meet him face-to-face.

One suggestion from Clayton State Coach LeTrone Mason is to create a recruiting video that you can post on YouTube, then email the link to the various coaches on your list.  The video should include a short introduction by the player (your name, where you’re from, your goals) as well as shots showing your groundstrokes, volleys, overheads, serves, and point play.  Check out this video from Pepperdine Coach Adam Steinberg.

As it turns out, Danny will be going to a school that wasn’t really on his radar.  In fact, neither Danny nor his dad had ever heard of the school, and, based on its name, figured it was a religion-based university which wasn’t what Danny wanted.  A little online research, though, proved otherwise and sparked their interest.

The head coach of Presbyterian College (a D1 program) had seen Danny play at the Georgia Qualifier tournament the summer after his junior year.  The coach really liked what he saw and showed a lot of interest in having Danny come up for an official visit in the Fall of his senior year.  After thinking it over for several weeks and doing a little more digging online, Danny decided to take the coach up on his offer, and he went for an Official Visit the following September.

Danny stayed overnight, met and hung out with the team, and toured the campus.  He really hit it off with both the team and the coach and made an on-the-spot decision to join them after the coach got creative and found a way to offer him a half-academic/half-tennis scholarship.  (Note to my son:  See, it pays to have good grades in high school!)  Meanwhile, Danny and Dennis visited a couple of other schools so they would have a better feel for how Presbyterian compared.  The formal Letter of Intent (LOI) from Presbyterian came a few weeks later, in early November.  Danny signed and now has the luxury of knowing where he’ll be spending the next four years.

I asked Dennis what Danny’s post-college plans are.  Of course, he’s still in high school, and college graduation is eons in the future when you’re 18 years old, but Danny has given some thought to what he wants to do after college.  Getting a solid education is very important to him.  Because he loves sports, he could see himself being a sports agent or maybe owning and running a tennis academy.  Depending on how his college tennis development progresses, he may try the professional tennis route and see how it goes, but he definitely has a Plan B.

Having some clear ideas of what you want from your college experience is key.  For Danny, it was important to be a contributing part of the tennis team wherever he went – he didn’t want to warm the bench for a year or more before getting to play.  He also wanted a good academic program where his degree would open doors for him after he graduates.  But, he says, the main factor in deciding to commit to Presbyterian was the fact that he knew the coach and other players really wanted him there.  He liked feeling that he was going to be able to make a difference for the team.  I think that’s one of those “intangibles” that Coach Wermer was talking about (see What Are College Coaches Really Looking For).

Oh, and in case you’re curious – and in keeping with what Patrick McEnroe shared with me – Danny is ranked well-within the top 300 in the US and is a 4-star recruit on TennisRecruiting.net with wins over five 5-stars and one Blue Chip.  Results do matter!

If you and your child have recently gone through the recruiting process, please share your story in the Comments box below.

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