I have had the pleasure of spending the last three weeks with my son as he unwinds from his first semester of college. The maturity I have seen in him is overwhelming. I sent a teenager away to college and a young man has been returned to me.
We have had a great time catching up on all that he has done over the last five months. His schedule is overwhelming to me and that was the off-season for tennis. I remember how busy I was in college and I didn’t play a sport. My time was completely filled with classes and studying. I marvel at the fact that this young man can balance his classes and studying with his tennis schedule.
I have heard many people ask what a typical college tennis schedule is like, I don’t know what it is like at other schools but I can share what it is like for my son. He gets up for six a.m. workouts two or three times a week, each workout lasting an hour and a half. From there he heads out to his eight o’clock class. His schedule is set up so he is generally done in the early afternoon. From class he runs to the cafeteria to load up on food and takes some time to do some homework while he eats. He has a second round of work-outs in the afternoon six days a week and then heads to the tennis court for at least two hours six days a week. After practice he heads to the cafeteria to once again load up on as much food as possible. After dinner he has his power nap to prepare for studying for the rest of the night (thank God teenagers function at their best after ten p.m.)
Next semester will be the tennis season so things will get a little more difficult for him. He will have to start traveling for the week-ends and Friday classes will be missed. Not a great situation when you have your lab on Friday afternoon. Fortunately the college allows their athletes to go to labs on other days if they will be traveling with the team on their regular lab day. They also offer free tutoring to their athletes so he can stay on top of his classes and keep his grades up.
So basically that is what the day in the life of a college tennis player looks like. Is your son or daughter ready for it? If you had asked me a year ago if my son could handle such a routine while maintaining his GPA I would have been doubtful. What I didn’t account for was the fact that he would grow up and mature so much. Tennis does take a lot of his time but it also taught him to manage his time, stay out of trouble and make good choices. College tennis helped him to fit into a social group that supports each other, they study together, and unwind together.
My son won’t be the next American professional tennis player. Hopefully, he will be one of the next great American doctors though and his tennis will help him to get there. His tennis has taught him discipline, hard work and has kept him out of trouble. If he can balance his school schedule, maintain a 3.96 GPA and play D1 tennis he will be well prepared for medical school.
I hope this sheds a little light on what college tennis is like. Trust in your child and know that if they can get through these four years they will be well prepared for the rest of their lives. It isn’t for everyone that is for sure. I am glad that it is working out for my son, I haven’t seen him happier than he is now. The only warning I have for my fellow tennis parents is to be prepared for losing the junior tennis player you have come to know. That child will be gone and a mature young man or woman will take their place. You won’t have to nag them to practice, or workout or eat right again. Somehow in this grand transformation they have found the drive within themselves to do all of these things without mom (or dad) holding their hand. So let go and watch them fly…it is a beautiful sight!