John McEnroe Tennis Academy Hosts College Combine
Randall’s Island was packed with promising high school tennis players looking to impress college coaches from around the country. The Sportstime Arena and John McEnroe Academy combined to host the first ever college combine in the New York City. John McEnroe Tennis Academy, JMTA created by hall of famer John McEnroe is a program that looks at developing junior tennis players in the tristate area. The college combine allowed players the opportunity to showcase their skillset to coaches from various different divisions (I,II,III, SCC)
The combine was a two day experiences for boys and girls. The first day of the combine focused on the boys and the second was the spotlight was on the girls. Participants had to show their abilities in three areas: physical test, mental toughness, and tennis play.
For the physical test participant were required to do calisthenics and show both their vertical jumping and leaping abilities. The most grueling of these test appeared to be the suicides on an outdoor basketball court. From the looks on participants faces, specifically the male players, it was obvious that this was a strenuous task.
The mental toughness component consisted of sensors on the participants had to wear to track responses to adversity on the court. According to Dr. Dom Lausic, director of mental toughness and performance at JMA, statistics shows that professional tennis players unforced errors account goes up by 130 percent when showing a negative response after losing a point. For that reason, the John McEnroe Academy makes a commitment to teach junior players how to respond appropriately when things are not going their way on the court.
The most rewarding part for the combine for players was getting the chance to speak directly to the coaches and hear advice about the appropriate steps to take to get into college tennis. The esteemed panel of coaches came from schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and St. John. One recurring message from the coach was telling students to be prepared to balance academics and tennis. Most coaches agreed that both were equally important and that if either one fell off it would be difficult to remain on the team. Jason Parison of NYIT reminded the high schoolers of their need to be aware of what they put on social media. He warned that although he wouldn’t comprehensively research everything they put on every social media outlet, they should be conscious of what they allowed the world to see. He also warned players that “everything placed on social media, remains on the internet. Jason also informed students that they are marketing themselves and everything they do on the court like smashing racquets or using foul language could jeopardize their chances of getting on a team.
Once all the questions were answered and all the physical test were done, the focus shifted on the most important component of the day, seeing the young players on the court. Participants played two best of three set matches in singles on day and then had to play one match of doubles on another day. Whether it was to impress the coaches or just their competitive nature, it was clear that the players were taking their matches very seriously. Many were heard yelling “come on” and bemoaning when they made errors.
It was a great showcase of what the future of college tennis will look like. Despite the fact that according to the various coaches most college players won’t go on to play professional tennis it is still beneficial for high school players to play in college. As one parent noted that even though her daughter does not plan to play professional tennis, she still loves the sport and knows that she has a great chance of getting a scholarship and attaining a great education at a credible college. College tennis has most coaches on the panel told participants will be one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. It will allow them to make lifelong friends and teach them skills that they will be able to use later on in life. It was a grueling two days for the participants that left them visibly exhausted but one thing for sure is that this was a great learning experience.