I feel this pathway is a great way to set yourself up as a tennis player and life after tennis, however for some people it can be easy to get sucked into the whole college life. College is all about making the most of your opportunities, you have everything here to make it as a player and to be a successful student, however, you need to capitalise on everything that is thrown at you. Most importantly college is a great opportunity for me to further my tennis aswell as having something to have after my career has finished.
I don't think Australians really get the whole college approach in general, I certainly didn't. Australians don't really realise the college environment, the tennis system here has a lot to offer. The quality of players I have been practising with lately is of a really good quality. The facilities here are a joke, I thought NSWIS was awesome, however the facilities here have taken it to a new level, the gym is scarily good. College has a really good environment surrounding it, I find its extremely positive. It is really a professional environment without being categorised as "professional". We have everything at the tip of our hands here. The whole spectrum of this place really has blown me away. Like I was saying before, as Australians we sometimes don't particularly realise what the college system really has to offer, it is a tremendous amount and I think that more players should be following this path. You really have to be aman these days to play on tour, if you aren't you will struggle physically, so college allows you to grow into your body and when you finish or you feel like you have surpased this level, you are then ready to play professionally.
This pathway is also extremely important to me because unless you are in the AIS or filthy rich, it is very tough to make it because of financial issues. I look at college as a perfect stepping stone in preparing me for the professional circuit. Everything here is so professional, we are on TV every week when we play our home matches. Taylor Dent commentates at our home matches which is cool, I guess its no Wally on FoxSports, but it will do the job for here in the mean time.Not only does it prepare you, it also supports you financially, socially and physically. Like knowing how to deal with playing live matches all the time, having trainers on speed dial, eating nutritious meals all the time. I know they are little but they help you out in the end. Like I said beforehand, everything is here for you to succeed, its those who capitlise on the environment here who do in the end. There are alot of good players here to play against, you get tough matches every week.
In regards to organisizing college/acceptance, it was a very challenging process. There is alot of paperwork to do and it takes up alot of time. The biggest problem I think for Australians would be the turn around time if they want to go to school in January. There is only a small time gap of twenty days to turn around the school results so you can get the I20 visa (student visa) and all the other documents involved in applying for visas, registering to the university, taking SAT's, etc. It is really important to make sure you have everything set in place early, Eg. appointments with the US consulate, the students school needs to know the importantance of the turn around time when you get your HSC results. The HSC results have to be stamped by the school in order for them to be valid with the NCAA and sent that day to America because the turn around time is so short. Because it is over Christmas time and New Years, there are alot of public holidays aswell so that needs to be taken into account. We had to randomly make a trip to Sydney one day so I could get my Visa registered and sent off because everything is booked out. We found it tough to get all of this into order and it took alot of time and effort ontop of everything else I was doing. It was quite relieving to finally get on the plane in the end.
For myself and my family, it was a bit of a draining process because we did it all on our own but definitely well worth it and I am extremely happy here. Mum spent alot of hours up late organizing and communicating with different organizations/faculties. It is more the little things that you don't know about which tend to slow up the process a little. I originally couldn't leave on time because I didn't get my visa beforehand. I was supposed to leave on the 3rd however I ended up leaving on the fifth because I got my visa on the 4th. I was home during this period so postage wise we found it alot tougher with all the school holidays.
It is also very important to keep your grades up at school, otherwise it may be tough to get into a very good school. All the top tennis seem to have a decent academic standard so that is essential. Otherwise that could potentially be a big problem if you want to play at a top school.
In the end I am really glad that everything has worked out. I am extremely happy to be at The University of Texas. It was alot of hassling around with everything but now it is great to appreciate all the hardwork that had to be done to get here and now I can concentrate on playing some good tennis again! Hopefully this helps you out a little bit with the college placement and it gives you a good understerstanding of the pathway and what it means to me.