| By Ricky Becker

The life of a college tennis player is different in many respects and similar in many respects. Here is the second part of miscellaneous information about college tennis life.

From the last issue of Long Island Tennis Magazine:

►In a team match (also known as a “duel match”), there are three doubles matches, followed by six singles matches. Players can compete in singles and doubles.

►There are few, if any, private lessons.

►Balancing tennis and academics in college was probably more difficult in high school.

►There are long breaks from official practices.

►Being on the tennis team in college can give you an instant social life. Which can be important as a college freshman.

►There are a lot of international players in college tennis. There is a faction of people who are against this and a quiet faction of people who support this.

►If you win the “walk-on tournament” you are not always guaranteed a spot on the roster.

►A lot more time is practiced on doubles than you are probably accustomed to.

►The assistant coach is often a graduate student who played college or pro tennis.

Teams stack lineups based on potential matchups
When players are relatively equal, a coach may set a lineup based on matchups. Often, when players are even, the player with greater fluctuation in his/her level will play higher to pick off some good wins and not fall victim to bad losses. Arguably, doubles lineups get stacked more frequently than singles lineups.

Physical conditioning is a constant priority at most schools
College teams spend a substantial amount of time on fitness. Cardio and physical conditioning is worked on often. Some coaches have required that team members be able to run two miles in 12 min. Physical conditioning is certainly an important component for a tennis player and something that is stressed.

A college player who has not contributed to his/her team the first two years and doesn’t figure to contribute will be often be pressured to quit
College teams have a budget and each player costs money. Coaches want players who may play intercollegiate matches. If a player isn’t in the equation, the coach would rather have a fresh face who may play. Additionally, after not starting for two years, the college player probably did not improve much due to a lack of matches.

Most schools have a special academic advisory program for student/athletes
Most college athletic departments have staff members whose job is to ensure that the student-athletes make the cut academically. It is of my opinion that if a student was admitted to a school and is academically motivated to do well, that student will be okay. Most flunking stories involve student-athletes who slacked off in a class.

Most coaches have a ballpark idea what number an incoming freshman is going to play before he/she steps onto campus
Especially in Division I, freshmen do not walk into practice with a clean slate. Coaches usually know the player’s junior credentials and has an idea the approximate idea where that student will fit in. If a great recruit or full-scholarship athlete slumps in the early going, it does not mean they will not start. On the other side of the coin, if an unheralded freshman comes in, they will have to prove more than once that they belong ahead of the star recruit in the lineup.

Hosting recruits over a weekend is part of the deal
A fun and sometimes mandatory part of being on a team, is allowing a high school recruit to stay with you for the weekend. Often, you will be asked by the coach how the recruit got along with everybody and whether the recruit would fit in with the team.

The NCAA Division I Tennis Championships have 64 teams in the tournament, but don’t expect many upsets early
The NCAA keeps expanding the NCAA Tournament so more players get a taste of NCAA post-season action. There were three first round upsets this year in the Men’s Tournament and 24 of the 32 first round matches were 4-0 shutouts! The Women’s Tournament had four first round upsets and 20 of the 32 matches were 4-0 shutouts.

There are no service lets in Division I
A serve that touches the net and lands in the correct service box is in play! This could lead to some “different” points than tennis players are used to. The rumor is that this rule was created to curb players from calling a phantom let when they got aced.

Ricky Becker is the Director of Tennis at Pine Hollow Country Club. He independently coaches high-performance juniors and adults of all-levels year-round at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. He has coached hundreds of ranked junior players. As a player, Becker was awarded Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis Team and 1989-1992 Roslyn High School Tennis Teams, and was ranked number four in the United States in the 18 & Under Division.