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Old Feb 19th, 2014, 10:09 PM   #1
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Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

We hear players say it all the time to justify their decision to go to college, but is that the scholarship talking?

How many would go to college without being offered a scholarship?

I know all tennis players aren't created equal, some will have different timelines in which to develop their skill and talents. Maybe all college has to offer is extra time and serves as a buffer. Is there more to it than a buffer? How much coaching and assistance is available towards player development? Has college become more of a "cookie-cutter" approach to win games? Or is it really tailor designed to each player?

Once the college players drink the kool-aid, doesn't it become more difficult to turn pro? How many dual matches are against ranked players? Is college like a "feel good" drug? Wins occur more frequently due to less competition. There's support from teammates, cheering one on. Financial support from college for tuition, meals, accommodations, travel, uniforms, etc. By comparison, turning pro is somewhat the complete opposite.

If that is the case, does college make it that much harder to turn pro?


How many college players really have had success? How many have won a WTA tournament or have been ranked in the top 20?

Burdette, Sanchez, and Gibbs seem to be the top 3 at the moment. Maybe add Irina Falconi to the list, but she went to Georgia Tech and I may be a bit biased after what they did to Stanford.
Here's an interesting article about Falconi.
http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/7970

Perhaps Burdette's ball striking talent help paved her way to the 3rd round of the US Open that became the deciding factor for her, not Stanford. Perhaps Sanchez is reaping the coaching benefits from Chris Evert, not USC. Still too early to discuss Gibbs, taking it one day at a time. The point is perhaps the current success are merely just exceptions, still early to be determined.

Certainly the USTA provides support to players like Townsend, Min, and possibly to Chirico(?). There seems to be a gap for the rest of the talented players. Maybe it is like Wayne Bryan said that they (USTA) built a half mile bridge over a one mile river.

I like what Billie Jean King's concept with World Team Tennis, but it seems like a mixture of retired pro's, current pro's, and rising stars. Maybe this concept could be applied to both junior and college aged players, to be funded by the USTA along with the major tennis sponsors. I get the feeling that the existing system has holes in it and college has a hole that can fill Lake Michigan.

Not sure if I am just ranting or wondering with curiosity...perhaps a bit of both.

Chime in with your thoughts and comments.
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Old Feb 19th, 2014, 10:36 PM   #2
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

In an interview, Burdette mentioned that the loss against Florida in the NCAA her sophomore year was a turning point in her career. I think for her, it was very beneficial to go to Stanford, as opposed to heading straight to the pros.

For some players, they aren't mentally tough enough to take loss after loss, and thus, they don't work on improving their game - they just want to win. However, at the college level, you can work on improving your game without losses mounting up and effecting your confidence. Well that's my take on way college tennis can be an excellent alternative to turning pro.
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Old Feb 19th, 2014, 11:02 PM   #3
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

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Originally Posted by SakiBomb25 View Post
In an interview, Burdette mentioned that the loss against Florida in the NCAA her sophomore year was a turning point in her career. I think for her, it was very beneficial to go to Stanford, as opposed to heading straight to the pros.

For some players, they aren't mentally tough enough to take loss after loss, and thus, they don't work on improving their game - they just want to win. However, at the college level, you can work on improving your game without losses mounting up and effecting your confidence. Well that's my take on way college tennis can be an excellent alternative to turning pro.
I saw that interview with Burdette and Ahn's pearly whites.
Honestly, I didn't understood Mal's response at first, but I remembered her hot streak the following season after the loss and I remember she killed Embree during the regular season match. Honestly, nobody was going to stop her and I was a bit surprised that Gibbs beat her in 3 sets during the NCAA singles championship. Yep, the loss really inspired her to take her game to the next level.



I loved Falconi's response below:

“I had a tournament that went 0-6, 6-0, 0-6,” she remembers. “I lost. I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to college.’”

Her coach didn't even expect her to go to Georgia Tech. I think he gave up on recruiting her. It was like she asked him, last minute, if there was a slot available, he said "yes, but you have to hurry" and she was on campus like at a blink of an eye.

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Old Feb 20th, 2014, 12:27 AM   #4
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

Don't they say something like “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

Parents and players would look at shooting to become a pro differently, if there wasn't also a good chance to be a star on campus.
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Old Feb 20th, 2014, 11:21 PM   #5
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

http://www.mississaugalife.ca/2011/01/stroke-of-genius/


This article is an interesting read...

So, is the professional women’s tennis tour in the future for these girls? That’s perhaps jumping the gun a little. After all, they’re only 15, 16, and 17-years of age. They’re not yet ready for the tour but if and when they are there are a lot of hurdles to clear. First of all it takes money…a lot of money. Andrea Rabzak suggests they’d need $150,000 a year if they don’t have the support of their tennis federation. That kind of money would go toward travel costs, play and having a coach with them. Unless they’ve got a fairy godmother to help with the finances or manage to obtain an enthusiastic sponsor it’s very difficult. The more logical next step would be college where athletic scholarships pave the way for their continued development. Again, Rabzak enthuses about the possibilities. “At school you have everything there: fitness, a coach, travel with the team, they pay to play pro tournaments. It makes a lot of sense to go to college first, get a great base and then go out and play.”
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Old Feb 22nd, 2014, 03:35 AM   #6
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

I think college works for some players but not everyone. Ahn and Hardebeck I feel are examples of players who should've gone pro, but I hope I'm wrong. I also feel like players like Brengle, Crawford and especially Chichi/Chiara Scholl should have gone to school
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Old Feb 22nd, 2014, 06:31 AM   #7
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

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Originally Posted by hellas719 View Post
I think college works for some players but not everyone. Ahn and Hardebeck I feel are examples of players who should've gone pro, but I hope I'm wrong. I also feel like players like Brengle, Crawford and especially Chichi/Chiara Scholl should have gone to school
I am beginning to think that finances is the biggest factor. A player has to make $150k to cover expenses. Tough to make that kind of money playing in challengers. Can't really afford a full-time coach, so it's a catch-22.

Ahn-I think could make it in the pros. Hardebeck, I'm not sure...
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Old Feb 22nd, 2014, 05:18 PM   #8
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

If Hardebeck can't make it in college... How can you expect her to make it in the pros? She may get there, but right now, I don't see it.
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Old Feb 25th, 2014, 10:00 PM   #9
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

Hardebeck's problem is she went to college. She should have continued on the path she was on. Her game and strokes are unique. No college coach would have been able to continue developing her the way her previous coach could without making changes to her strokes which is always a huge gamble. Especially considering most college coaches really aren't very good coaches, they are just good recruiters. Even at Stanford which, by the way, like many other big college programs doesn't develop players. They have a recruiting program not a development program. ( Like most colleges) Playing college tennis doesn't always make players better.Infact, usually the player's game suffers big. The few players, and it's very few, that are actually turn pro after college are usually late bloomers or players that still train with their personal coach in the off season.

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Old Feb 25th, 2014, 10:02 PM   #10
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

hellas719 I agree with you completely.
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Old Feb 25th, 2014, 10:21 PM   #11
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

College tennis definitely does not prepare players for the pros. You have a better chance in mens tennis, but for the women, absolutely not. And the proof is proven year after year with very few college grads that have little to no success on the pro tour. As well as seeing the top players in the ITA college rankings that are usually the youngsters, and the longer the stay in college, their game takes a nose dive. College coaches are not nearly the best coaches in the county. Most players received better coaching before college. So usually a players game, that is on the pro/college bubble suffers severely. Conditioning and fitness is one area that can improve in college, yet, technigue and strategy suffers the most.
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 12:22 AM   #12
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

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College tennis definitely does not prepare players for the pros. You have a better chance in mens tennis, but for the women, absolutely not. And the proof is proven year after year with very few college grads that have little to no success on the pro tour. As well as seeing the top players in the ITA college rankings that are usually the youngsters, and the longer the stay in college, their game takes a nose dive. College coaches are not nearly the best coaches in the county. Most players received better coaching before college. So usually a players game, that is on the pro/college bubble suffers severely. Conditioning and fitness is one area that can improve in college, yet, technigue and strategy suffers the most.
I've been hinting at this, because I completely agree.

I thought the proof in the pudding is when a Freshman such as a Jamie Loeb's is able to defeat the likes of Anderson and Santamaria, who are upperclassman. Did their games take a nose dive? I just can't see how the colleges have the resources to teach technique and strategy given all the players on the team.

What I see is that colleges like Stanford look for certain players, who they can mold in a certain way, limited effort on their part, to create a winning formula. This isn't to say that players improve. Perhaps they mold the players to apply higher percentage shots based on their current abilities, without having to sacrifice losses in hopes to improve the player. I can see this happening to players like Hardebeck and Tsay.

When I hear coaches talk, I never really hear about technique. It is more or less about their ability to fight and battle. One of the things that college players lack usually is their serve. If they have a good serve like Brady, they probably developed it before coming to UCLA. Just recently I notice Nicole Gibbs use the flow technique on her serves to get extra velocity, which I know she didn't apply when she was at Stanford.

Quite honestly I doubt that there is really time for player development with academics. Most of the top junior players do high school online in order to remain competitive. How do we expect these same top junior players, improve at the college level taking a full load of classes. We hear players rant all the time about the lack of sleep. Anybody whose been to college knows this to be true even without getting a sports scholarship.
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 12:51 AM   #13
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

Of course, it would be great to have "inside" information to know whether college players are satisfied with their development. I have yet to hear anybody complain. All I hear is that they love their team and I start thinking that they have drunk too much of the kool-aid and don't know any better any more. How could they bad-mouth an institution that is providing a $200k education? Some players get so excited just getting uniforms. Others are happy to get free ice cream.

OK, if the conclusion is that college doesn't prepare players, what other options are there?

Isn't it cost prohibitive to turn pro, when it can cost $100k to $250k/year in expenses? Getting sponsors is like a catch 22, you only can get after achieving success. Maybe players like Nicole Gibbs get to wear NB clothing and shoes, but I doubt sponsorship is awarded at that level. Perhaps there isn't much a choice, which is why Carol Zhao decided to remain in college. Well, she's from Canada, but you still get the idea.

I really don't know in detail what the USTA offers the junior players, whether it is just access to their training facilities AND coaching or whether it includes financial support for travel & accommodations as well. It seems that certain names that are mention as it relates to the USTA include McHale, Townsend, Min, and Chirico to name a few. I am curious to know if they are offered financial support and what are the qualifying factors. Regardless, if players have to go to college to improve to the pro level, then the USTA isn't doing enough for American tennis.
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 02:54 AM   #14
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Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

The short answer is no... I think college players become accustomed to the playing style in college, so it's hard to elevate your game. Unless you already have a huge weapon to begin with, which we see on the men's side (ie. Isner's serves), then it's difficult to challenge.
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Old Feb 26th, 2014, 04:20 AM   #15
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Thumbs up Re: Does College prepare players to turn Pro?

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Originally Posted by tie_breaker View Post
I've been hinting at this, because I completely agree.

I thought the proof in the pudding is when a Freshman such as a Jamie Loeb's is able to defeat the likes of Anderson and Santamaria, who are upperclassman. Did their games take a nose dive? I just can't see how the colleges have the resources to teach technique and strategy given all the players on the team.

What I see is that colleges like Stanford look for certain players, who they can mold in a certain way, limited effort on their part, to create a winning formula. This isn't to say that players improve. Perhaps they mold the players to apply higher percentage shots based on their current abilities, without having to sacrifice losses in hopes to improve the player. I can see this happening to players like Hardebeck and Tsay.

When I hear coaches talk, I never really hear about technique. It is more or less about their ability to fight and battle. One of the things that college players lack usually is their serve. If they have a good serve like Brady, they probably developed it before coming to UCLA. Just recently I notice Nicole Gibbs use the flow technique on her serves to get extra velocity, which I know she didn't apply when she was at Stanford.

Quite honestly I doubt that there is really time for player development with academics. Most of the top junior players do high school online in order to remain competitive. How do we expect these same top junior players, improve at the college level taking a full load of classes. We hear players rant all the time about the lack of sleep. Anybody whose been to college knows this to be true even without getting a sports scholarship.
I 100% agree!!
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