A great source of information for prospective college tennis-playing freshmen are the people who have gone through their college tennis years. We took four Long Island raised student/athletes who just finished their first year of college and asked them to give us some insight on college tennis and what, if anything, was different than they expected. All of them referred to the companionship of playing on a team. In the next issue, we will speak to young adults who grew up on Long Island and just finished their college tennis careers, but this month, we will focus on the first-year experience.
Bert Vancura ♦ Columbia University
Herricks High School Class of 2011
The most memorable part of my college experience so far has definitely been being part of a team. On the court, competing for a team has made winning more satisfying, but losing also more devastating. When you lose in junior tennis, you are the only one who feels badly about it. In college tennis, however, you play for something greater than yourself. Off the court, I have found that your teammates will become some of your closest friends. With the amount of time that you spend competing alongside each other to achieve a common goal, you end up forming a bond with your teammates that very few other students have with their peers. Academically, I have found the most challenging part of college to be keeping up with the work consistently. With no parents around, only a few hours in class every day, and little day to day work, it can be very easy to put off assignments and studying until later in the semester. In addition, one of your friends will always be doing something fun.
Carly Siegel ♦ Ithaca College
Half Hollow Hills West High School Class of 2011
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to play for the Ithaca Women’s Tennis team. Being part of the team was a terrific learning experience about teamwork and friendship. My teammates and I always cheer each other on and help each other through the matches and in all aspects of college life. We spend a lot of time together, both playing tennis and just hanging out. Going into the season, I did not know what to expect from the players and coaches since I had never been a part of a college team before. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful in anything I needed. It was scary being a freshman and not knowing anyone, but the team made my first year of college a lot easier to enjoy. The team spent a great week in Hilton Head, S.C. during spring break practicing and playing matches against other colleges. College tennis is very rewarding not only for the tennis practice and matches, but also for making life-long friends. I am very happy I chose to play tennis at Ithaca College.
Ashley Sandler ♦ Monmouth College
Syosset High School Class of 2011
My first year playing college tennis at Monmouth University has been a very favorable experience. Although I had met most of the team prior to attending college (which I highly recommend), I was still nervous about where I would fit in. All of the returning players on the team welcomed me immediately and made me feel very comfortable. Since unlike high school tennis, you spend a lot of time traveling with your teammates and staying in hotels on the road, I was really happy that the other team members were so welcoming. I did not realize that many of the other teams that we compete against would have so many international players. Since I was so used to playing girls within the Tri-State area, it has been an interesting experience competing against so many international players. I have found most of them to be pleasant to compete against. I have also found that on almost every team we compete against, there are always one or two players on the team that I have met through my experiences playing USTA tournaments and high school tennis. I did not expect to recognize as many people as I have.
Eric Ambrosio ♦ Quinnipiac University
Cold Spring Harbor High School Class of 2011
College tennis is certainly a different experience from junior tennis. I was shocked at how many people I knew from junior tennis. I thought that I would not see anyone again, but I was wrong. It is not something I disliked … it is just an observation. One aspect I do like, is that now I am really part of a team. The people playing next to me are playing for the same reason … to represent Quinnipiac University. One thing I did not expect was the noise level of the matches. The cheering that comes from both teams can be borderline obnoxious. That also comes along with playing in front of crowds. While not every match has one, the ones that do can get very loud, and it was something I wish I could have prepared for in junior tennis. The whole college experience is far more exciting than I thought it would be and I am looking forward to the rest of my years.
Ricky Becker is director of tennis at Pine Hollow Country Club and independently coaches high-performance juniors year-round at Bethpage State Park and Jericho/Westbury Tennis where he is the junior tournament director. He can be reached by phone at (516) 605-0420, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit JuniorTennisConsulting.com.