Some Interesting First-Round Match-Ups

First-RoundThe US Open draws were revealed earlier today, and there are some very interesting first round matches, especially involving the college players and junior wildcards.

Let’s take a look at the women’s draw first.

Jen Brady, who left UCLA after her sophomore season, will take on veteran German player Andrea Petkovic, a former top-10 women’s player on the WTA tour. Jen had an amazing Australian Open this year, reaching the 4th round there, and has a real shot to at least equal that performance in New York.

To do that, though, she would potentially have to get past fellow young American Taylor Townsend who faces Romanian Ana Bodgan in her first match. Taylor has been playing well during the US Open Series this summer – it would be fun to see her do well at our home Slam.

This year’s NCAA Champion, Brienne Minor, faces Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. Brienne got a wildcard into the US Open Main Draw as a result of winning college tennis’s biggest tournament in May. She will also be playing in the US Open Collegiate Invitational which begins September 7th at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The 2017 National Hardcourts Champion, Ashley Kratzer, who also received a wildcard as a result of that win, faces Tatjana Maria of Germany, another veteran player.

Eighteen-year-old Sofia Kenin faces fellow American Lauren Davis in her first round match. Both women are playing some good tennis right now, so this could be a fun one to watch. Another teenager, Kayla Day, also faces a compatriot, Shelby Rogers who has been on the upswing the past couple of years. And perhaps the best known of the teenage Americans, CiCi Bellis, faces Nao Hibino of Japan who has yet to win a singles match at a Grand Slam event.

Now onto the men’s draw . . .

Patrick Kypson, this year’s Kalamazoo champion, has to be pretty excited about his draw. He faces a qualifier in the first round with the chance to play Juan Martin del Potro if he wins. Nineteen-year-old Frances Tiafoe is hoping to learn from the maestro,  3-seed Roger Federer, in his first match at the Open. The two have played once before, at this year’s Miami Open where Federer came out on top 7-6, 6-3.

I will be keeping a close eye on Tommy Paul, too, who faces Japan’s Taro Daniel in the first round with a chance to play Rafa Nadal in Round 2. Tommy is having a great summer on the hardcourts, and I hope to see him do well in New York.

Chris Eubanks, a rising senior at Georgia Tech, received a USTA wildcard into the Main Draw and faces Israel’s Dudi Sela in his first ever Grand Slam match. I suspect Chris’s serve and forehand will pose some real problems for Sela! Chris is another of the players in the Collegiate Invitational.

Once the Qualifiers are put into the draws, I will take another look in hopes that more young Americans will make it through. So far, Sachia Vickery, former USC Trojan Danielle Lao, Allie Kiick, recent UVA graduate JC Aragone (who will also be playing in the Collegiate Invitational during the 2nd week), and Tim Smyczek are into the Main Draw with potentially more to come. NOTE: 17-year-old Wimbledon Jr Champ Claire Liu just made it through Qualies as well, and things are looking good for Nicole Gibbs and Evan King, 2 more former college players.

Main Draw matches begin Monday at 11am. If you haven’t already, be sure to download the US Open app so you can stay on top of all the matches, events, and results.

Seeds Announced for 2017 US Open

SeedsSo, in case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m kinda in US Open mode right now and will be for the next couple of weeks. This will be my first Open since 2014, and I’m super excited to spend some time there this year. My focus will be on the Junior and the College events, but I will also be writing a bit about the Main Event as well.

To that end, I wanted to let y’all know that the seeds have been published for both the Men’s and the Women’s draws. The following is from a USTA release sent out yesterday afternoon:

The USTA today announced that world No. 1 and two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal and 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray have been named the top two seeds, respectively – with five-time US Open champion Roger Federer seeded No. 3 – in men’s singles at the 2017 US Open. The 2017 US Open will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Men’s Singles Championship is presented by Chase.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who has won five ATP singles titles this seeded fourth, while fifth-seeded Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, joins Nadal (2010, 2013) Murray (2012), and Federer (2004-08) as the former US Open champions seeded in the Top 10. 2017 French Open semifinalist Dominic Thiem, of Austria, is seeded sixth. Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who last week won his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the US Open Series’ Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, is seeded seventh. Three-time US Open quarterfinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, of France, is seeded No. 8.

Juan Martin Del Potro, who won the 2009 US Open, is seeded No. 24.

Nadal, 31, regained the No. 1 ranking this week for the first time since June 2014. He won his tenth French Open singles title this year and also reached the final at the Australian Open. Murray, 30, comes into the US Open after reaching the semifinals of the French Open and quarterfinals at Wimbledon this year and holding the world No. 1 ranking for all of 2017 until Nadal recaptured it this week.

Federer, 36, is competing at the US Open to become the first male player to win 20 Grand Slam singles titles. By winning his sixth singles title in New York, Federer would also break the three-way tie between him, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for most US Open singles titles won in the Open Era.

Three American men are seeded at this year’s US Open—No. 10 John Isner, No. 13 Jack Sock, and No. 17 Sam Querrey.

Defending US Open champion and world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka will not be competing in this year’s US Open due to a knee injury, while two-time US Open champion and world No. 5 Novak Djokovic will not be competing to recover from a right elbow injury. 2014 US Open finalist and world No. 10 Kei Nishikori will not be competing because of a right wrist injury, while No. 11 Milos Raonic has withdrawn due to a left wrist injury. [Note: USTA also announced yesterday that Raonic’s spot in the draw will be filled by a Lucky Loser from the Qualifying draw. There are 5 US men left in the Qualies, 2 of  whom play each other in today’s final round.]

For 2017, the US Open followed the Emirates ATP Rankings released Monday, August 21, to determine the men’s singles seeds. This is the 17th consecutive year that the US Open will seed 32 players in singles.

The USTA also announced that world No. 1 and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova has been named the top seed in women’s singles at the 2017 US Open, while world No. 2 and 2016 French Open finalist Simona Halep is seeded No. 2. 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza is seeded third, and 22-year old world No. 4 Elina Svitolina is seeded fourth. The 2017 US Open will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by J.P. Morgan.

The Top 10 women’s seeds at the US Open mirror the current Top 10 of the WTA rankings. Following the top four are No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, a two-time US Open finalist; No. 6 Angelique Kerber, of Germany, the defending US Open champion; No. 7 Johanna Konta, of Great Britain, a 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist; No. 8 and 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia; No. 9 Venus Williams, a two-time US Open champion, and No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland.

In last year’s US Open final, Kerberwon her second Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, defeating Pliskovain the final, and becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

Four American women are seeded at this year’s US Open — No. 9 Venus Williams, No. 15 Madison Keys, No. 20 Coco Vandeweghe, and No. 32 Lauren Davis.

Eight-time US Open champion and former world No. 1 Serena Williams, who is currently ranked No. 15, will not be competing in this year’s US Open after announcing her pregnancy. Victoria Azarenka, who would have entered with a protected ranking of No. 6, withdrew because of a personal issue. World No. 28 Timea Bacsinszky, of Switzerland, will not be competing due to a left leg and right hand injury. 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, of Australia, withdrew due to a right hand injury. [Note: There are 8 US women in the Qualies final round with several playing each other today.]

The US Open followed the WTA rankings released Monday, August 21, to determine the women’s singles seeds. This is the 17th consecutive year that the US Open seeded 32 players in both singles events.

The singles draws for the 2017 US Open will be revealed live during an official draw ceremony, which will be open to the public for the first time, on Friday, August 25, at 12 noon ET at the US Open Experience at the historic Seaport District NYC. The ceremony will conclude with an appearance by defending women’s singles champion Angelique Kerber and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, as well as other special guests.

2017 US Open Men’s Singles Seeds

1. Rafael Nadal, Spain
2. Andy Murray, Great Britain
3. Roger Federer, Switzerland
4. Alexander Zverev, Germany
5. Marin Cilic, Croatia
6. Dominic Thiem, Austria
7. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
9. David Goffin, Belgium
10. John Isner, United States
11. Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain
12. Pablo Carreno Busta, Spain
13. Jack Sock, United States
14. Nick Kyrgios, Australia
15. Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
16. Lucas Pouille, France
17. Sam Querrey, United States
18. Gael Monfils, France
19. Gilles Muller, Luxembourg
20. Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Spain
21. David Ferrer, Spain
22. Fabio Fognini, Italy
23. Mischa Zverev, Germany
24. Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina
25. Karen Khachanov, Russia
26. Richard Gasquet, France
27. Pablo Cuevas, Uruguay
28. Kevin Anderson, South Africa
29. Diego Schwartzman, Argentina
30. Adrian Mannarino, France
31. Feliciano Lopez, Spain
32. Robin Haase, the Netherlands

2017 US Open Women’s Singles Seeds

1. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic
2. Simona Halep, Romania
3. Garbiñe Muguruza, Spain
4. Elina Svitolina, Ukraine
5. Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
6. Angelique Kerber, Germany
7. Johanna Konta, Great Britain
8. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
9. Venus Williams, United States
10. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland
11. Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia
12. Jelena Ostapenko, Latvia
13. Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic
14. Kristina Mladenovic, France
15. Madison Keys, United States
16. Anastasija Sevastova, Latvia
17. Elena Vesnina, Russia
18. Caroline Garcia, France
19. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia
20. Coco Vandeweghe, United States
21. Ana Konjuh, Croatia
22. Shuai Peng, China
23. Barbora Strycova, Czech Republic
24. Kiki Bertens, Netherlands
25. Daria Gavrilova, Australia
26. Anett Kontaveit, Estonia
27. Shuai Zhang, China
28. Lesia Tsurenko, Ukraine
29. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia
30. Julia Goerges, Germany
31. Magdalena Rybarikova, Slovakia
32. Lauren Davis, United States

The US Open is Here!

US OpenI know I’m a couple of days late here, but there is so much going on with the 2017 US Open right now, and, even though I won’t be there for another 13 days, I wanted to bring y’all up to speed!

First of all, the Qualies . . . one of the best parts of the Open because (a) it’s free and (b) you can see some of the hungriest players in the world battling for a coveted spot in the Main Draw (and a $50,000 paycheck just for making it in!). Even getting into the Qualies comes with a paycheck for these players, though it’s significantly smaller than what they can potentially earn by making it through 3 rounds and into the Big Show.

This year’s US Open Qualies includes some of the best junior and college players as well, thanks to wildcards. The Kalamazoo and San Diego 18s runners-up – JJ Wolf (a rising sophomore at Ohio State) and Kelly Chen (a rising freshman at Duke) – each received a wildcard but, unfortunately, both lost their first-round qualies matches. Bobby Knight of College Tennis Today is posting updates on all the qualies matches involving college players, so be sure to check out his site each day this week. Colette Lewis of ZooTennis is keeping an eye on both the college and junior players competing, so check out her site, too.

Secondly, the US Open Juniors . . . wildcards were announced this week for the qualifying and main draw of the Junior event (see below). Qualies begin Friday, September 1, and the Main Draw will start Sunday, September 3. Since many of the early-round matches are held on the outer courts outside of the main gate, you can stop by and watch the world’s top juniors compete free of charge. You can also expect to see college coaches from all around the US there scouting for their teams, so it’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself and get to know them a bit.

Thirdly, watching the pros practice . . . through this Sunday (August 27) you can enter the grounds free of charge. In addition to seeing those playing in the qualifying, you can also watch some of the biggest names in the game descend on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to acclimate to the courts and get ready for their first-round matches. If you’re in the area, you should definitely try to get out there over the next few days and watch these men and women practice – it’s incredible to hear the sound of the ball coming off their racquet and see their footwork up close and personal!

Fourthly, the US Open Experience at the Seaport District NYC . . . today and tomorrow you can see booths, games, music and more, and an introduction to Net Generation, the USTA’s new platform that is making it easier for kids and teens to get into tennis. Plus, on Friday the US Open Draws will be unveiled.

Lastly, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Powered by Net Generation . . . this Saturday beginning at 9:30am. Per the US Open website, “The free Grounds Festival offers interactive games, music and tennis activities for all ages and abilities to promote the many health benefits of tennis. The Grounds Festival also features a free concert with exciting up-and-coming talent on the Festival Stage hosted by Radio Disney. Proceeds from Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day benefit the USTA Foundation which helps fund the National Junior Tennis & Learning Network (NJTL), a nationwide group of more than 500 nonprofit youth-development organizations that provide free or low-cost tennis, education and life-skills programming to more than 225,000 children each year, founded 48 years ago by Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder.”

One of the things that makes the US Open so special is the myriad events offered outside of watching tennis! For a complete list of happenings at this year’s tournament, be sure to visit USOpen.org

Also, be sure to download the US Open app which will keep you updated on livescoring, draws, results, and other happenings around the grounds such as the player’s practice schedules and live concerts. If you’re an American Express card holder and you’ll be on site at all during the next two weeks, you can register your card through the app to receive discounts and a rebate when you shop at any of the tournament stores.

As I mentioned above, I won’t be there until September 6th, and I hope to see many of you during my 4 days there. If you’re around, please reach out to me so we can meet – y’all know how much I enjoy connecting live and in person!

US Open Juniors Wildcards

Boys main draw:
Andrew Fenty (17, Washington, D.C.; Coach: Asaf Yamin)
Ryan Goetz (17, Greenlawn, N.Y.; Coaches: Matt Gordon, Keith Kamborian, Chris Goetz)
Lukas Greif (17, Newburgh, Ind.; Coaches: Bryan Smith, Stephanie Hazlett)
Brandon Nakashima (15, San Diego; Coaches: Larry Stefanki, Christian Groh)
Axel Nefve (17, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Nick Saviano)
Sangeet Sridhar (17, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Coach: Lou Belken)
TBD: French reciprocal
TBD

Boys qualifying draw:
William Grant (16, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Juan Alberto Viloca)
Trey Hilderbrand (17, San Antonio; Coach: Mark Hilderbrand)
Govind Nanda (16, Cerritos, Calif.; Coach: Vahe Assadourian)
Brian Shi (17, Jericho, N.Y.; Coach: Andre Daescu)
Yuta Kikuchi (Japanese High School Champion)
TBD

Girls main draw:
Angelica Blake (16, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coaches: Nick Saviano, Eric Riley)
Kelly Chen (18, Cerritos, Calif.; Coach: Debbie Graham)
Salma Ewing (16, Long Beach, Calif.; Coaches: Reyana Ewing)
Abigail Forbes (16, Raleigh, N.C.; Coach: Cameron Moore)
Cori Gauff (13, Delray Beach, Fla.; Coach: Gerard Loglo)
Natasha Subhash (15, Fairfax, Va.; Coach: Bear Schofield, Bob Pass)
Katie Volynets (15, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Richard Tompkins, Mark Orwig)
TBD

Girls qualifying draw:
Elvina Kalieva (14, Staten Island, N.Y.; Coach: Nick Saviano)
Gabriella Price (14, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Rick Macci)
Charlotte Owensby (14, Boca Raton, Fla.; Coach: Yulia Beygelzimer)
Nikki Redelijk (15, Windermere, Fla.; Coach: Ferdinand Redelijk)
Marina Kurosu (Japanese High School Champion)
TBD

Jim Harp Discusses Coaching the Tennis Journey

Jim HarpThis week’s podcast:

High-performance coach Jim Harp has been around a few years, more than 30 to be exact, and he knows his stuff! He makes it his mission to learn something new every day so he can better coach the junior players under his care. He works with all levels of juniors – from the very beginners to the D-1 college bound and everything in between.

In this week’s podcast, Jim and I discuss his coaching philosophy as well as his new role as an advisor to TennisMentors.net. He has a lot of wisdom to impart to Tennis Parents and is more than happy to answer your questions if you’d like to reach out to him. You can find him online at HarpTennis.com or via email at Jim@harptennis.com

To learn more about Tennis Mentors, listen to last week’s podcast here.

Check out our latest podcast!

#theSol Baltimore

#theSolIt has taken me a few days to write this article because, honestly, I just haven’t been able to find the words to describe this past weekend in Baltimore at the 2017 #theSol.

I won’t go into my history with Sol Schwartz – you can read this article if you’re curious – but this tournament is about so much more than junior tennis or college tennis or anything having to do with hitting a yellow ball over a net. It is about honoring the legacy of a man who truly loved the game . . . LOVED the game . . . and devoted his adult life to fighting for its survival and the survival of its traditions.

That’s why #theSol participants play 2 out of 3 full sets. That’s why they play regular scoring (none of that no-ad stuff that makes me crazy). That’s why we empower the players with their own matches, trusting them to play by the rules and to exhibit impeccable sportsmanship without interference from officials. That’s why we encourage on-court coaching at side changes, helping players learn from each game and each match. That’s why we solicit quality sponsors and use the money (instead of charging high entry fees) to create the highest-quality tournament experience we can, providing goody bags filled with fun and useful items, creating a full-color Player Book (thank you to Sol’s niece, Ali, for the beautiful design!), serving lunch and drinks to players and parents, using the net proceeds to #SaveCollegeTennis through grants.

While last year’s Baltimore event found all of us who were close to Sol still feeling pretty raw – he had just passed away 5 months earlier – this year’s event felt more like a true celebration of his life. Sol’s wife, Ilene, did a great job of encouraging Sol’s friends and family to come out to watch the juniors and college kids compete, and, I swear, we had more fans in attendance than at many pro tournaments! I met people who had known Sol since childhood or who had played against him in the juniors or who had been coached by him or who had done business with him at Holabird Sports. The man knew everyone even remotely related to tennis in the mid-Atlantic section!

Now the details . . .

theSolWe wound up with 50 players ranging in age from 9 to 22 and ranging in UTR level from 1.0 (first tournament ever) to 9.85. Players came from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Tournament Director Scott Thornton divided them into 7 flights, some playing a round-robin format and others playing a compass draw, ensuring that everyone played 3 matches. Prizes were awarded based on the percentage of games won so that everyone had a chance at the awesome Wilson Prize Package and the 2-month Tennis Trunk subscription as well as other prizes donated by Solinco and the Bryan Brothers.

As I mentioned, the tournament provided lunch for the players and their families theSoleach day. During lunch on Day 1, NextGen star Noah Rubin joined us via FaceTime to chat with the players and answer their questions. He was prepping for his week at the Vancouver Challenger in Canada, so it was especially sweet of him to take some time to interact with us!

theSol
Richard Herskovitz & Ilene Schwartz

During lunch on Day 2, I got the opportunity to hit a little with Standing Adaptive player Richard Herskovitz, a long-time friend of Sol’s who came out to support our tournament. He definitely put me through my paces on the Har-Tru courts! When we found out that one of our final-round players needed to withdraw, Richard graciously stepped in and played against one of our juniors, ensuring that she got her 3rd match for the tournament.

Thanks to their generosity and connection to Sol and his family, we had two photographers on site documenting the weekend. If you’d like to see and/or order any of the photos, click here. The net proceeds will go into our grant fund. There are more photos available to purchase here.

But, enough from me! I want you to hear from the players and parents themselves!

Allen Au, whose 3 sons all played in this year’s tournament, posted on our Facebook page at the end of Day 1. “Awesome First day…. Best junior event I have been to ever.. Everyone was nice and played tennis in the spirit of competition.” What a wonderful testament to the heart of this tournament!

Juan Borga’s 17-year-old daughter, Ana, also played in the tournament. Her older brother, Juan, was supposed to play as well, but unfortunately he injured himself on the practice court a few days beforehand. Here’s Juan Sr’s take on #theSol:

For Tiffany Livingstone’s daughter, Alexa, playing in a tennis tournament was something she had wanted to try but really didn’t know how to go about getting started. Because of their personal connection to Sol’s wife, Ilene, Tiffany signed Alexa up for #theSol this year, and she had a wonderful first tournament experience:

And now hear from two of our players, Anya and Julianne, about their experience:

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the incredible support theSolof our Presenting Sponsor 10sBalls.com; Title Sponsor Holabird Sports; Division I Sponsor Wilson Tennis; Division II Sponsors Kassimir Physical Therapy, Judie Schwartz, and Steven J. Schwartz, MD; Division III Sponsors Maller Wealth Advisors, Match!Tennis App, ParentingAces, Universal Tennis Academy, and UTR; Lunch Sponsors Michael Sellman and the Schwartz Family; Ball Sponsor Jewish Community Center of Baltimore; and In-Kind Sponsors The Bryan Brothers, Crown Trophy, David Brooks, Dunlop, Melanie Rubin, PNC Bank, Solinco, The Suburban Club, Marc Summerfield, Summit Group, Tennis Trunk, TournaGrip, Utz Chips, and Voss Water.

If you would like to get involved in either the Atlanta or Baltimore #theSol tournaments in 2018, please reach out to me via email (lisa@parentingaces.com) or in the Comments below. If you would like to make a donation to our grant fund to #SaveCollegeTennis, you can do so via Venmo or by mailing a check payable to The Sol – just email me for details. Your donation may be tax deductible.

Thank you to everyone who played, donated, volunteered, or came out to support the event! I look forward to seeing y’all again next year!

Trent Bryde, Patrick Kypson, and TennisMentors.net

TennisMentors.net
Photo courtesy of Bill Kallenberg of Captured In Action

This week’s podcast:

What happens when two top juniors get together to form a business while giving back to the sport they both love? TennisMentors.net!

I had the opportunity to chat with Trent Bryde and Patrick Kypson the day before their week at Kalamazoo 2017 started. They took some time away from their tournament preparation to talk about their goals as tennis players as well as in business.

Trent and Patrick have wisely partnered with Jim Harp of Harp Performance Tennis Academy to market their mentoring service to young players around the US. Jim is an experienced coach based in the Metro Atlanta area and is a huge asset to this blossoming business.

The other two mentors on board so far are Gianni Ross and Sam Riffice. They hope to eventually include some female mentors, too.

Through their new venture, these young men hope to meet with and advise those coming up behind them. Whether it’s through an online chat, a phone call, or an in-person hitting session, they will work with a player on a one-to-one level with the aim of helping the younger players reach their own tennis goals.

Be sure to check out their website at http://tennismentors.net. Huge congratulations to Patrick on winning the Boys 18s singles (and for reaching the finals of the Boys 18s doubles) at Kalamazoo last week! Please join me in wishing him all the best as he puts his US Open Wildcard to use in a few weeks!

Note: We are currently seeking additional sponsors for the ParentingAces podcast. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Lisa at lisa@parentingaces.com.

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Advice on Picking a College

Andy Brandi college

The following was written by Coach Andy Brandi and originally posted on the USTA’s Player Development website here and here. Coach Brandi served as a partner of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute since 2007 before joining the USTA staff in August 2010. From 2001-06, Brandi was Director of Tennis for IMG at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, and from 1984-2001, he was the head coach of the University of Florida women’s team. During his career, Brandi has worked with top professionals, including Elena Dementieva, Shahar Peer, Maria Kirilenko, Lisa Raymond, Ryan Sweeting and Jesse Levine. While at the University of Florida, he led the Gators to three NCAA Division I Team titles and coached four NCAA women’s singles champions and four NCAA doubles champions. Brandi is writing a blog for PlayerDevelopment.USTA.com for the next several weeks. In his latest entry, he offers insight and advice to young players as they decide what college to attend.

PART 1

As a former collegiate coach, I would like to give you some insight into making the decision as to which university you will attend. I was at the University of Florida as the women’s coach for 17 years. My pathway there came after traveling as a coach on the pro tour for many years. The thoughts and facts I am passing on to you are what I have learned over those 17 years.

Although most junior players dream of becoming professionals, 99 percent of them will go to college. Even the one percent should have a school in place in case they fall short of the benchmarks that are required to make the decision to turn pro. Such was the case for Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul, who had chosen schools but decided to turn pro after they won Grand Slam junior titles. Shaun Stafford, who came to Florida, won the US Open juniors while in school and stayed for the year. She also won the NCAA singles title as a freshman. She turned pro that summer and became a Top 30 WTA player.

Here are some general guidelines:

During your freshman year in high school, you should make a list of 15 schools that you feel interest you. They can be from dream schools to schools that you would consider as backups. You can receive brochures for camps and questionnaires. Start following the results and rankings of the schools that you have chosen.

Sophomore year, you should go down to 10-12 schools. At this point, you can receive brochures for camps and questionnaires from the schools you are interested in. You can call the coach at your own expense, but they cannot call you. You are able to visit the campus at your own expense as many times as you like. Continue to follow the schools’ results and rankings and compare to the year before.

Junior year, things begin to change. You need to go down to 5-7 schools. You can begin to receive recruiting material and information from the coach as of Sept. 1. You can call the coach at your own expense, and as of July 1, you can receive one call from the coach a week. Texts and emails are allowed from the school as of Sept. 1. You are able to visit the campus at your own expense as many times as you like, and as of July 1, after the completion of your junior year, off-campus contact with the coach is allowed. Continue to follow the schools’ results and rankings and compare to the previous two years.

Senior year, the list goes down to five schools. You can continue to receive materials and information from the school. Calls are still as they were your junior year. Texts and emails are the same, and off-campus contacts are capped at three. Contacts at tournaments are allowed before it starts or after the player completes the tournament. Unofficial visits are unlimited, and now you can take five official visits for D1 and unlimited to D2 and D3 schools. The on-campus visit is for 48 hours and begins when you arrive on campus.

PART 2

Some of the things you need to consider in making your decision are: the coach, the school, location in relation to your home, weather, facilities, the town the school is located in, academic support, the conference it is in, the overall athletic program, how good is the school in your intended major, the team, scholarships, tournament and dual-match schedules and transfer rules.

This is the first important decision that this young person is going to make as they begin their pathway into adulthood. They have to make the decision! They are going to spend 4-5 years of their life there. Parents should provide guidance but should not make the decision. Parents cannot be selfish! They have to go where they feel comfortable, like the school, like the coach and have a connection with the players on the team. You can make the commitment in either November or April and sign the letter of intent on either date.

So let’s begin with some questions about the details that need to be answered in the process:

Coach – What is his background in tennis as a coach and player? How long has he been at the school? What’s his record? NCAA appearances? Individual NCAA tournament appearances? What’s his coaching style? His staff? Tennis knowledge? Developmental skills? Work ethic? What are practices like? Do the players get private lessons? Do underclassmen get the same playing chances as others? Have they participated in the National Team Indoor? Does the team play pro events? How are the lineups determined?

School – What is the reputation of the school? What is its ranking in your area of studies? What kind of academic support do they give athletes? Do they accommodate athletes in advance registration? What are the admissions standards? Do they have online courses, in case you want to take a semester away and travel? How are the academic advisers? Campus security?

Location – Is it far from home? What are winters like? What’s the year-round weather? What is the town like where the university is located? How much local support towards athletics is there? Are there booster groups for tennis? Is it in a small town? Big town? College town? Is there an airport there or nearby?

Athletic program – What is the overall athletic program like? Success in other sports? Facilities in tennis and other sports? Support staff for tennis? How is the conference strength in tennis? Travel budget for tennis? Scholarships for tennis (men 4.5-women 8)? Athletics dorms? Cafeteria for athletes? How do they accommodate athletes who want to transfer? Do they release you? Do they allow 5 years to graduate? Will they guarantee a scholarship if I leave early? Do they cover summer school? Academic counselors and center? Mandatory study hall for freshman?

Team – How do you see yourself getting along with the team and fitting in? Do you see yourself in the lineup? Where? Do they allow you to play pro tournaments in the fall? How many players travel? How many players are on the team? What is the schedule of fall tournaments and dual matches? Away? Home? Equipment allowances? Stringing included? How do they determine the lineup? Are the players I like and connect with seniors? Do they have the same goals? Do they have the same commitment?

Recruiting visit – Tour of the campus? Dorm? Of the town? Who will be my host? Will I meet people in the athletic department? Athletic directors? Medical and training staff? Strength and conditioning? Will I watch a practice? Will I stay in the dorm or hotel? Will I spend time with the team more than the coaches? Will I attend any athletic events? Tennis match? Will I attend any classes? Meet with some faculty from my intended major? Will I eat at the athlete cafeteria? Will I meet with the academic adviser? Will the coach follow up with a home visit?

These are some of the issues that need to be clarified before making the decision. Leave no stone unturned. The decision has to be crystal clear. You have to be thorough. While I was the women’s coach at the University of Florida, I had a student during a recruiting trip ask me how many books there were in the library! I can tell you that I did find out! Why? Because it was important to her! She came to Florida!

Once you have sorted all this out, make your verbal commitment. Be sure you call the other coaches to let them know of your decision and to thank them for the opportunity to visit the school and for their consideration. You want to leave all options open in case you change your mind or the coach leaves before you sign the letter of intent. Do not burn any bridges. Be sure you are 100 percent sure of the decision.

Good luck!

Note from Lisa: Thank you to USTA PD for giving me permission to reprint Coach Brandi’s articles for y’all. I’m happy to see USTA supporting college tennis and supporting Tennis Parents with this series of articles. Please take a look at the Player Development site for more useful articles.