Off season practice and work-out schedule seemed rather daunting to me but it is nothing compared to the tennis season schedule. These young men and women who take on the challenge of playing college tennis while trying to maintain their grades are truly amazing young individuals (and I don’t mean because of their tennis skills!)
My son’s new schedule includes four hours of tennis a day (to the maximum of six times per week), hitting the gym with the trainer for a couple of hours a few days a week, and travelling every weekend for matches unless they have a home match (Friday classes are a thing of the past.) Now let’s look at the class schedule…Physics, Physics lab, Chemistry, Chemistry lab, Biology, Biology lab and Communications. Now that is some kind of balancing act to manage to stay on top of that kind of schedule!
I am thankful for the intense practice regime and travelling schedule he had during his years in the junior USTA as they have helped him to transition to the strenuous college schedule. However, during those years mom and dad did a lot of managing of the little things like laundry, shopping, meals, etc that he has had to learn to take care of himself now. I am certainly glad that during those years we never let him slack on his school work and held the high expectations for him to balance his tennis, school and social life himself. We never allowed him to fall behind in school and never helped him in finishing his assignments, and I am grateful for those choices since there is no-one there to do it for him in college.
If there is one piece of advise I would give a parent raising a tennis player who wants to play college tennis it would be this: Don’t hold their hand! Allow them to stand on their own in the early years because this is the skill they will need the most when they finally reach their goal. I saw so many tennis parents who hold there chid’s hand through every step their tennis, seldom allowing the child to worry about anything other than walking onto the court and playing their match. They never had to take care of finding their tournaments, packing their clothes, getting their racquets strung, packing their tennis bag. I’ve watched parents check their kids into the tournament desk, hold their tournament cards, choose their meals, find out the match times for their kids, while the child does nothing more than show up on the court when directed by their parent (who is often carrying their bag and water jug.) I’ve seen parents doing the homework that they know the child will never get done if they make it to the finals on a late Sunday afternoon. I ask myself… who will take care of those young men and women when they are at college? Unless you plan on going to college with your kids, I suggest you teach them how to take care of themselves before they go!
Playing tennis is the easy part… balancing the schedule and dealing with the stress is the hard part. Teach them when they are young how to take care of themselves, physically and mentally before they go. These are the skills that will not only make them successful but will allow them to survive the schedule and maybe even enjoy it!
Good luck to all of the young men and women signing with the colleges and seeing the results of your hard work and effort throughout your junior years. You have put in the work that has gotten you to this point and it is these skills that you will need to draw upon to cope with the hectic schedule that lies ahead. Take the work ethic you have developed in your tennis train schedule and apply that to your college schedule and you will be successful. Just know that it is not the end but merely the beginning. As hard as you thought you worked as a junior tennis player is nothing compared to how hard you will work in college. So why do it? Because you love tennis and you will make some of the best friends and create some of the best memories of your life.
Parents… if you haven’t already, start now! Prepare your child to stand on their own and balance their schedule, because the coach is not going to hold their hand when you are not there to do it!