Making the Transition to University Tennis

By Jake Williams

So you’ve just finished your last year of secondary school and you’re looking to take your tennis career to the next level. Some would make an attempt to go pro, but you want to continue your studies and play tennis at the same time. You’ve decided your best option is to play university tennis. This is a great option for most and it allows you to still pursue a career but also work on getting a degree. 

Choosing the right university for you can be the most difficult process, and I myself have experienced this dilemma. As you begin on deciding what you’d like to do, there are many things to consider: should I go to university in my home country? Do other countries offer a better program for me? What will the standard of tennis be like? The process can be rather tricky to navigate. 

Today I hope to shine a light on one of those options for you so that you may better understand what it has to offer. To give you a little bit of background, I ended up going to Southern Utah University to play college tennis in America. I played for a Division 1 school which was very competitive. I did my bachelors degree in communications at the same time. 

To say that making this decision was tough for me would be a serious understatement as I remember it being one of the most stressful choices of my life. However, don’t let that discourage you. I can honestly say it was the best decision I made and I do not have any regrets. Furthermore, it was a pivotal moment in my life as a young adult in helping me mature as a person. 

There are many things I had to consider during my enrollment process. First was the cost: could I really afford to make this leap? Flights from the UK to America are not cheap and I would be making multiple a year. Another thing is that tuition can be an issue if it’s out of your budget. Nevertheless, I was determined to make this dream of mine happen and so it was time to knuckle down and set myself some goals. 

I needed to think about what schools were offering the subjects I wanted to do. Also, did these schools go over the budget I set myself? Another thing I had to consider was the standard of tennis. Right before going to college I was playing at a very high national level so I wanted to make sure I went to the right place that offered strong competitive tennis. This meant doing a considerable amount of research into each of the schools in order to get the answers I needed.

After I had narrowed my options down to just a few schools which all fitted into my categories of budget, standard, and subjects, it was time to make my decision. But first I wanted to talk to the tennis coaches of each team because, after all, I would be working with these people for up to four years. Each coach that I spoke to was great, extremely friendly and all keen to have me on board. The defining factors that ultimately led me to my decision were again budget and what the program offered. 

I was fortunate enough to be offered an athletic scholarship which aided in my decision massively as it would help with funds and make my life a lot easier. This was not my only reason for choosing Southern Utah University, however. The college offered the course I wanted to take and they would be flexible around my timetable. They also had a beautiful campus with many extracurricular activities. But one aspect that really solidified my decision was the response that I received from the teammates who were already attending. A few of the lads reached out to me just to be friendly and have a chat which was really nice to see, but they also seemed very genuine and were excited to have me on board if I did decide to go there. This for me was the defining factor as I knew then and there that if I was going to spend my four years at university so far from home then it would be there, surrounded by supporting teammates. 

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