There really isn’t much better than watching great tennis. Or at least I don’t think there is. Most people, parents and kids alike, turn to professional tennis for their tennis fix. They watch the incredible athleticism, the mental toughness, and the unfailing passion and dedication that the top players possess. Trust me, I am a sucker for it as well. What many people may not know is that college tennis, at its many different levels, can be just as thrilling, exciting, and fun for many reasons that professional tennis cannot even offer.
Many young juniors dream about going pro and potentially being the next Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. What they may not know is that college tennis can be exciting and fulfilling in ways that they may not be thinking about right now. College tennis is not a consolation prize but actually a great goal to have, and taking your child to a college match, whether it be DI or DIII, will prove this. What will you find at a college tennis match?
Team Tennis Atmosphere
Except for the Davis Cup/Fed Cup, professional tennis is very much an independent sport. One person is playing against another person in hopes to beat them and move on toward winning the title for themselves. College tennis is completely different. One stellar player on a team does not guarantee a match win. College players walk out onto the court to win not just for themselves, but for their team. Their individual win adds to the collective score, and there is something about this concept which makes college tennis so fulfilling. College players are part of something bigger than just themselves.
Warmup and Pre-Match Cheer
Arrive at the match thirty minutes prior to its start to experience both teams getting ready for the match. The nerves and excitement are all on display as players pump each other up and cheer on their teammates. This all culminates in a team huddle and cheer, a usually unique and somewhat silly chant that bonds a team right before they take the court.
Leave any and all tennis fan snobbery and stereotypes at home because you will not find them at a college match. Substitute constant hushing with constant cheering when attending these matches. Cheering and yelling can be heard no matter if players are serving or if they are in the middle of a point. And heckling? Very much allowed.
Doubles is first, and it is either a 6-game or 8-game set depending on the division. If you go to a Division I championship match, the set is no-ad. This is the case for all DI championship matches, and potentially all regular matches as well, doubles and singles alike. What does all this special scoring mean? The matches are shorter and faster-paced. Each point matters. There is more pressure to capitalize on every point and on any opportunities that are given to get ahead in the overall match score.
College tennis is about playing for your team, not just for yourself. You learn how to work and play for something beyond just yourself. You make great friends along the way and are rarely alone. So here’s my advice to you: take your kid to a college tennis match and show them there is more than just professional tennis to aspire to. There are many great paths to take with tennis, whether it be Division I, Division III, or even club college tennis.