Gary Horvath is a USPTA master pro, founder and past president of the USA Professional Platform Tennis Association, charter member of PPTR, a certified coach with USA Volleyball and a long-standing member of the Wilson Advisory Staff.
His experience as a tennis pro has covered the entire spectrum from grassroots to college tennis. In addition, Gary Horvath has conducted extensive business and economic research that has largely supported the state of Colorado's economic development efforts.
COLLEGE TENNIS - THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME
Support college tennis in your community!
By Gary Horvath
College tennis is one of the most underappreciated market segments in the tennis industry.
The match format is exciting to watch and challenging for the athletes.
College tennis serves a niche market of 18- to 24-year-old high-frequency players who play at varying levels.
College tennis is the best of all worlds. Athletes can get a formal education while learning life lessons as an athlete in a competitive tennis program.
Dr. Jim Loehr has identified what athletes value most from competing in sports based on his 45 years of research. His comments coincide with those made by University of Colorado letter winners at a recent reunion in Boulder (Go Buffs!)
Challenging Match Format
All matches use no-ad scoring. Every point is critical, especially the simultaneous game point (40-40).
A match begins with three single-set doubles matches. The first team to win two sets wins the doubles point. Six singles matches are played after the doubles point.
Programs for High Frequency Players at All Levels
The NCAA oversees about 16,000 men and women players in three divisions (D1, D2, and D3). There are 859 NCAA women’s teams and 696 men’s teams. The NAIA and NJCAA add to the total, although they have fewer programs and players.
One-third of NCAA players play in D1. About 53% are women players. Teams usually have 8 to 11 players and two or three coaches.
Analysis conducted by UTR shows that D1 women players have UTR ratings between 5 and 12, and D1 men players have UTRs ranging from 8 to 14.
College Tennis – Competitive Tennis and Lessons in Life
Many competitive coaches and players view college tennis as the next step in the tennis pathway after high school or junior tennis.
In a few instances, college tennis has been a stop on the career path to the pro tour for a handful of athletes such as Jen Brady, Danielle Collins, Ben Shelton, and Peyton Stearns. Other athletes vie for scholarships to cover the costs of getting a college education. Some athletes use college tennis as the next step for a job as a tennis coach or teaching professional.
College tennis allows athletes to play an individual sport in a team setting while they get a formal education. Usually, the most valuable part of the process is the friendships, experiences, and life lessons learned from practicing and competing in tennis.
CU Buffs Tennis Reunion - The Value of Buffs Tennis
The University of Colorado recently held a tennis reunion for letter winners from the men’s (1946 to 2006) and women’s (1967 to present) programs. The former Buff players traveled from Germany, India, Sweden, France, Canada, and other states in the United States.
At the kickoff event, Dr. Sheila Ohlsson spoke briefly about the role of sports in our lives, followed by keynote speaker Dr. Jim Loehr, a world-renowned performance psychologist. He discussed key findings from his 45 years of human performance research. (Ohlsson and Loehr recently co-authored Wise Decisions, a Science-based Approach to Making Better Choices.
Takeaways from Loehr’s presentation follow.
Coaches and athletes should leverage their experiences in sports to help them become better human beings. The person is first, and the athlete is second.
Athletes perform best when they have fun and have positive energy.
Everyone needs a coach. Their best coach is their inner voice, YODA (Your Own Decision Advisor). Check out the Wise Decisions book for details.
The performance pyramid shows that a person develops in the following order: physical, emotional/social, mental/cognitive, and ethical/moral (your character). To maintain this order, a person must take care of oneself (eat, sleep, and stay healthy).
Loehr’s presentation is available on Buff Vision at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0s5iw5LlJo.
The contents of Loehr’s presentation are a perfect segue into the following sample of comments about the experiences of Buffs tennis players.
I had my eyes opened by discussions with one of my teammates from a different country about how our cultures differed and how it affected her life as a student and athlete.
In my first week of practice, I was the player who yelled and screamed and threw my racquet. The coach had a very unique way of convincing me to change my behavior. I am a coach today, and my students never act the way I did.
Every time I play in league matches, I hit my serve the way my coach taught me in practice.
I am so thankful for my coach. My life changed because of my time on the Buffs tennis team.
At the reunion team practice/hit-around, I enjoyed hearing about the experiences of the current Buff athletes, especially those players from different countries. They add value to the program.
It speaks volumes about the caliber of the four men from the 2006 team who attended the reunion. They had a fabulous season that year. Then CU eliminated the program.
In the hit-around session, the letter winners demonstrated they can still hit the ball well - after all these years. Tennis has clearly been a part of their life after CU.
It was great to hear that CU athletic programs focus on a holistic approach to supporting its athletes - health, nourishment, sleep, academics, mental, physical, and integrity.
It was a pleasure meeting Coach Pham. The players should appreciate his philosophy of continual improvement and learning.
The letter winners contribute to society in many ways. They work as doctors, attorneys, researchers, scientists, financial managers, leaders of women's sports organizations, entrepreneurs, teachers, teaching professionals, coaches, and many other professions.
The current athletes also have strong ambitions. Their studies include biology, biochemistry, applied mathematics, finance, business, media productions, marketing, and communications. They will make positive contributions to society after graduation.
The Beauty of College Tennis – Formal Education, Competition, and Life Lessons
The research conducted by Loehr and the sample of comments from former Buffs tennis players show the many values of playing college tennis.
Athletes can learn life lessons from practicing and competing on a team at the same time they are working on a degree. Without a doubt, college tennis is the deal of a lifetime.
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