How the game can change when you're not just playing for yourself.
Tennis is very different from other team sports. When competing in tennis you are on your own-- you don’t depend on anybody’s performance, but yours. Win or lose, it is your fault. This is why college tennis is so special--so different from what tennis players are used to. This is what I’ve learned playing college tennis.
You learn to understand the sport and analyze it from a different point of view. Coaching is permitted, so you get to be coached during the breaks of your game. This is extremely helpful for young players who are in the process of maturing their game. The coach is able to point at your mistakes so that you can make adjustments before the match is over. Therefore, as a player, you start to understand the game and make better decisions. This is an amazing learning opportunity you only get with college tennis.
You learn the meaning of teamwork. In the real world, you will always be part of a team--whether it is a professional one, your family, or any other. There will always be people that depend on you, and people you depend on. In college tennis, there is something very special about playing on the court right next to your teammate. They see your struggles and you see theirs. You cheer for each other and pick each other up by competing as hard as possible. This is what teamwork is about. Teamwork is a life skill that student-athletes get to learn at a very different level--for this reason, many companies value graduating students that have lived this experience.
You get to express yourself at such a different level when playing college tennis. Tennis is well known as the sport of ladies and gentlemen and there are guidelines that one is expected to follow when competing. However, when playing college tennis, all these unwritten rules change. College tennis is the only version of the sport where you get to yell and cheer as loud as possible for your team. You get to scream in between points. It is almost like teams are not only competing to see who is better on the court, but they are also competing to see which team has the most energy and team spirit. Coaches are always looking for players that can electrify their teammates in positive ways. For me, being a young student-athlete and being able to express myself on the court was one of the best experiences in my life and is probably one of the best memories from my college career.
Having lived the experience of college tennis I can definitely say that we need more team competitions. Even if individual competitions are the core of tennis, team competitions are a great complement to the players’ growth. This is the reason why the USP College Circuit was born. The main goal of the USP College Circuit is to give the players a feel for what college tennis is and start preparing them for that path--which, in my experience, is the best one!
- Joyce Martinez Gutierrez, USP Certifed Advisor (Sacramento State, C/o 2009)