MyTennisLessons caught up with rising sophomore at Sewanee: the University of the South Avery Schober, of Dallas, Texas, about his experience playing college tennis. Among other things, we were curious as to what advice Avery had for players with aspirations of reaching the collegiate level. As a freshman, Avery played no.1 singles in Sewanee’s lineup and had a 17-4 record. He was named Southern Athletic Association rookie of the year, SAA player of the year, conference tournament MVP and earned All-American honors.
Do you recall your first tennis lesson? If you can, describe to us what that was like.
I don’t recall my first tennis lesson because I started playing at a very young age. I vaguely remember some of my earlier lessons, and they involved understanding the basics of tennis: hitting forehands and backhands and learning how to serve. Mastering form in tennis is very complex and I remember being very frustrated in the early stages of learning how to play. It is not easy to learn all the basics and be able to rally consistently, so early on you have to remain positive, and I think that mentality helped in the beginning. I enjoyed the learning process because I thought I had chance of being successful in tennis.
When did you realize you had a deep passion for tennis?
I realized I had a serious passion for tennis when I was 8 because that was when I started playing tournaments and considered myself a serious player. Before tournaments, I actually did not enjoy tennis as much, and I think the competitive aspect of tournaments helped me discover my own love of the game.
At what point did you realize that you were capable of playing tennis at the college level? Did it change how you went about practicing?
I realized around age 16 that I was capable of playing at the college level because that was when my game significantly improved. I had gotten a new coach who helped me get motivated about tennis and my future in the game. My new coach helped me to revamp my dreams of playing college tennis, which made me a better player altogether, and I saw myself getting more respect from other players. I started to have a better attitude at practice and became more confident in my own skills, which helped me accelerate my game to a high level.
What has been the most meaningful match in your tennis career and why?
The first round of the NCAA tournament was the most meaningful match for me. I won the match in three sets, which meant I gained All-American status. I had set becoming an All American as one of my goals for the season, and to win that match meant that I had finally reached my goal. I lost the first set 6-2 because I was so nervous that I could not play my game, but I was able to pull it together. When I won my whole family was there and they all jumped up and cheered for me. It was an important moment in my life.
What advice would you give a junior player in order to prepare him or herself for the college level?
My advice is to work as hard as you can and play every tournament you possibly can, because match play with pressure is the best type of practice for college. College tennis is way more exciting and enjoyable, so you should work as hard as you can before you get to college.