College Tennis – Southern California Tennis News Tennis News, Events, Community Activities, Tournaments Fri, 17 Aug 2018 20:54:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Oracle ITA Summer Circuit Brings Out the Best in So Cal College Tennis Players Sat, 21 Jul 2018 02:12:09 +0000 Read more »]]> Competitive battles abound in Southern California at the various Oracle ITA Summer Circuit events, a series Powered by UTR. The ITA collegiate tournaments have gathered some of So Cal’s top male and female players who attend universities from across the United States. Despite tough matches and extreme So Cal heat, one common theme seems to be outstanding tennis, supreme sportsmanship and camaraderie with deeply rooted friendships from junior tennis days.

The 2018 six-week summer circuit started on June 23 and will end July 30. So Cal sites are Chapman University, Pomona Pitzer, Cal State Northridge, Claremont Mudd Scripps, Azusa Pacific University and Cal State Los Angeles. Draws are based on Universal Tennis Ratings and they offer 32-player draws. Scoring is 2 out of 3 sets with a 10-point match tiebreak in lieu of a third set with no-ad scoring. Doubles are 8-game pro sets.  Participants across the country can compete in the ITA Summer Circuit Points Race, which will conclude with the top five men and women receiving automatic entries into the ITA National Summer Championships at Texas Christian University.

Emily Dush from Chula Vista is a recent high school graduate of Laurel Springs School and will play tennis for  the University of Utah in the fall. Dush has competed in several ITA Summer events in singles and doubles.

“I’m playing to get used to the college tennis format,” said Dush, a 10.22 UTR. “The competition is tough and the conditions are challenging. It’s giving me a look at what’s ahead.”

Jed Kronenverg, a sophomore at Pomona Pitzer, believes the circuit will help him improve his doubles play while Matt Sullivan from the Weil Academy sees the ITA events as a way to step into the college tennis arena. Ethan Prost, a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University, is striving to gain experience so he can make the top six at his school next year. Jennifer Kerr of San Diego, a two-time CIF San Diego Section Singles Champion, attends Columbia University and believes the summer tournaments will help her stay mentally tough.

There are a myriad of reasons that college tennis players participate in the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit including improve their UTR, refine their skills and strive to qualify for the national tennis tournament. However, one visible theme seems to be meeting up with old friends. This was evident in the smiles, hugs, laughter, high fives and gregarious group dynamics at each site despite the intense So Cal heat wave that brought sizzling 115 degrees through parts of July.

“I loved seeing my junior tennis friends because in a sense we grew up together,” said Gillian Parker, a standout at UC Irvine.  Parker partnered with Julia Ronney from the University of Montana in the Chapman College event. The duo were finalists in women’s doubles at that tennis tournament, and have been doubles partners since the 12-and-Under Division in USTA junior tennis. “It’s like old times playing with Julia because we know each other so well. This was so much fun.”

Parker’s parents, Sheryl and Eric, enjoyed watching their daughter compete at both Chapman University and Claremont College. Eric is a PTR Teaching Professional at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido and a leader in the San Diego tennis community. “This is great because the pressure of junior tennis is off. They are no longer in the junior tennis rankings race or in the hunt for a college scholarship. The girls are here to simply improve their games and that’s a great attitude,” said Eric Parker.

While all of the So Cal college sites are well known, Chapman University Coach Will Marino was proud to introduce his new five-court facility to the ITF community. The Erin J. Lastinger ’88 Tennis Center was completed in September and is perhaps one of the top in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).

It appears the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit has something to offer everyone in So Cal and throughout the United States. Many tennis players said they enjoyed great competition and outstanding sportsmanship, and all considered it an extension of their college tennis experience.

“As a tennis player, you should be a good sport.” said Dush. “Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because you want to win. It’s about playing fair.”

For more information on the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit Powered by UTR, please go to



]]> 0
Cal State LA builds for the future Thu, 05 Jul 2018 20:38:43 +0000 Read more »]]>

With a sprawling new tennis facility on the way for Cal State Los Angeles, the Division II Golden Eagles are looking to build their program and recapture the magic that saw the women’s squad nationally ranked as high as seventh in the early ‘90s and 15th at the end of 2005.

After a strong performance throughout 2016-17, Cal State LA dropped out of national rankings this past season after injuries and setbacks stalled the program’s momentum. Losing four seniors coming into last season, the Golden Eagles bid farewell to three more seniors last month, and both veteran head coach Sandy Kriezel and assistant coach Richard Gallien are eager to provide opportunities for young players seeking a Division II scholar athlete experience.

Speaking recently with Gallien, himself a 5-time PAC-12 Coach of the Year, the team’s assistant coach is eager to extend scholarship offers to incoming student athletes. “At the moment our focus is especially young women from Southern California,” Gallien said. “We are able to offer scholarships that can greatly help a young student athlete realize their academic and athletic dreams.”

The most recent roster reflected a notably international flair, with players hailing from Russia, Peru, Canada, and Switzerland. American tennis legend Billie Jean King attended the school from 1961 to 1964, while Hall of Famer Rosie Casals has been a longtime supporter of the program.

In addition to the valuable scholarship opportunities, Cal State will christen a brand new tennis facility in coming years. This summer, construction began on new facility that will house the Golden Eagles, as well as tennis camps and special events.

To learn more, visit the team’s home page here.


]]> 0
SoCal Officials Selected To The 2018 U.S. Open Mon, 02 Jul 2018 18:52:56 +0000 Read more »]]> The USTA National Officiating Department has published the list of Southern California officials selected for the 2018 U.S. Open.

This is the singular highest honor for an American tennis official in the Professional Pathway. For many on this list, it is the result of years of hard work and dedication.  We are all very proud of the significant accomplishment of the following Southern California Officials Selected to the 2018 U.S. Open.  Congratulations to:

John Bramlett

Selwyn Brereton

Bob Christianson

Teri Cohn

Marcos Cook

Sean Cook

James Flood

Holly Haggerty

Steven Hartshorn

Lei Ji

Steve Kasner

David Martinez

Michael Recasner

Maureen Regan

Linda Sharpe

Jill Spencer

Wayne Spencer

Bob Tomanek

Albert Ton

Bob Wiebe

]]> 0
Cal State LA student excels on the tennis court and in the classroom Fri, 01 Jun 2018 06:19:56 +0000 Read more »]]> The email that would change Elizaveta Sokolova’s life landed in her inbox as she was walking into her high school graduation ceremony in Moscow, Russia.

In it was a full-ride scholarship offer for the 16-year-old to play tennis for the Golden Eagles at California State University, Los Angeles.

“I wanted to scream, to laugh, to cry. All of my emotions hit me so hard,” Sokolova says. “I couldn’t believe it.”

If she had stayed in Russia, Sokolova would have had to choose between pursuing higher education and athletics. But at Cal State LA, she fulfilled both dreams.

Photo credit: Cal State LA.

Four years later, the 20-year-old Alhambra resident will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. She is the student speaker at the undergraduate ceremony for the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at Cal State LA.

Growing up, Sokolova passed on socializing with friends to focus on drills at the net. She opted not to attend school with children her age, skipping grades ahead for the greater academic challenge.

She developed an early affinity for math and science, and at age 16 passed a test to leave high school after just one year. She graduated and earned a gold medal in mathematics from the Russian government, an honor awarded to students who excel on final examinations in secondary education.

That unwavering discipline continued when Sokolova stepped onto Cal State LA’s campus.

Her days often started before sunrise, when she’d leave her apartment and head to a three-hour training session with her teammates, who became like a second family.

She juggled a full course load and the arduous demands of a collegiate athlete. Such a schedule would be challenging for most. But Sokolova was also a teenager navigating a new country and a new language, alone.

During her first two years of college, she kept a list of new words she heard throughout the day and didn’t know. She looked them up when she returned home.

Her knack for numbers helped Sokolova when it came time to choose her major: computer science. Her desire to show women can be at the top of the field also motivated her.

She excelled in her major and fell in love with the field of data science in a course during her senior year with Professor Mohammad Pourhomayoun.

Through the College of ECST’s Senior Design Project Program, Sokolova led a team of students who developed a web-map tool that allows the city of Los Angeles to track and prioritize its capital transportation projects.

Sokolova earned an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete Award and Academic All-PacWest Conference recognition for three years and was on the Dean’s List for four consecutive terms. In 2015-16, she received the Cal State LA Athletics Department Academic Achievement Award.

Sokolova received the Joe Shapiro Scholarship at the 20th Billie Jean King & Friends Gala in October 2017. The annual event celebrates student-athletes, humanitarians and Cal State LA alumna Billie Jean King, a world champion athlete and global advocate for social justice who has helped support hundreds of Golden Eagle student-athletes during the past two decades.

“She is a great example of how we should fight for women’s rights and minority rights,” Sokolova says of King, who she spent time with on various occasions during her years at Cal State LA.

After graduating in May with a 3.86 GPA, Sokolova hopes to pursue a career in data science, and forge new paths for women in the field.

“I don’t know if I can change the world, but at least step by step, maybe I can,” Sokolova says. “That’s my goal.”

]]> 0
‘Underdogs’ No More: CMS Earns D3 National Title Wed, 30 May 2018 18:10:11 +0000 Read more »]]> When the dust settled at the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Team Championships at Claremont last week, the final team standing was a long shot winner. True, they were competitive – seventeen times during the season they blanked their opponent, twelve of those being 9-0 drubbings – but the Athenas of Claremont Mudd Scripps (CMS) had stumbled twice in 2018. On one weekend in March, CMS lost nailbiters to both Emory and Williams, two powerhouse programs who regularly share the wealth atop Division III standings.

Those two losses loomed big for the Athenas, nestled in third place behind their dominant counterparts. After sweeping their opponents at the SCIAC Championships, then doing the same at NCAA Regionals (a combined 10-0 tally), the Athenas knew that they’d have to find a way to overcome either Emory or Williams to earn CMS’s first NCAA Women’s Tennis crown.

As it turned out, they’d have to defeat both rivals to earn a tournament victory.

(photo credit: Alicia Tsai and Alisha Alexander)

“We knew we were pretty good,” said fourth year CMS head coach David Schwarz, “but with Williams and Emory being as dominant as they have been for so long, it was hard to perceive us as anything but the underdogs.”

Surrounded by their home crowd as host of the Division III finals, those underdogs eliminated #11 MIT with ease. But their next opponent, the Williams Ephs, carried a 37-match undefeated streak into the semifinals. When Williams notched their third win of the penultimate match against CMS to take a 3-1 lead, the foregone conclusion seemed imminent.

Despite a stunning loss in #1 singles, Claremont refused to give up. In time, they would rally to gain the lead at 4-3. Rebecca Berger, a freshman competing at #5 singles, was firmly in charge of her match against Williams’ Mia Gancayco, eventually locking up a 6-2, 6-4 win to send CMS into the championship finale.

Again the Athenas faced a perennial rival, and again the women found themselves trailing top-seeded Emory after doubles competition. The see-saw match that ensued was dramatic to say the least, as both teams traded blows early and often.
At #4 singles, CMS’ Kyla Scott notched the first Athena win in singles play, a three-set triumph for the senior.

“It was really surreal playing out there,” Scott told reporters post-game. “I’ve been playing since I was 18 years old and this is probably my last competitive match. I really just wanted to leave no regrets.”

Tiebreak wins by CMS’ Caroline Cox and Catherine Allen balanced a victory by the Eagles’ Daniela Lopez, leaving the overall championship tied at 4-4. Just as it had in the semifinals, all attention turned to court 5 and Claremont’s Rebecca Berger. True to form, Berger tallied a convincing 6-2, 6-3 win to earn CMS it’s first ever women’s tennis title.

“We felt we were good,” Schwarz said afterwards, “but until someone knocked off Williams and Emory… you can’t pretend you are there until you do it. It’s one thing to believe it. It’s a whole other thing to do it.”

The Athenas wrapped up their season at 29-2, but more importantly, they left everything that had to offer on the court. Except, of course, the shiny new trophy.

“Everyone was just determined to give it everything they had,” said Scott. “It turned out to be our day.”


– Darryl Nash

]]> 0
UCLA’s Redlicki-Zhu Win National Doubles Title Tue, 29 May 2018 03:10:03 +0000 Read more »]]> WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – For UCLA senior Martin Redlicki, it was so good to feel like a champion again and end his storied Bruin career on top. For sophomore Evan Zhu, capturing his first national was a totally unreal moment.

The UCLA pairing wrapped up the 2018 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships with a stirring 6-7 (8), 7-6 (4), 11-9, victory over Martin Joyce and Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State. Joyce, a junior from Hinsdale, Ill., and Denmark’s Torpegaard held a championship point at 9-8 in the final super tiebreaker before it slipped away.

UCLA claimed the 13th NCAA doubles title in program history with the win.

The men’s doubles final had it all in terms for suspense and intrigue.

According to UCLA Athletics Sports Information Director Andrew Sinatra, Redlicki-Zhu jumped out to a 4-2 lead, but the 25th-ranked Ohio State combination countered to get back on serve. The Bruin twosome appeared poised to capture the win with the first three-point lead of the set at 8-5, but again, the Buckeye team showed its own resilience. Joyce-Torpegaard, in fact, found itself on match point at 9-8. Zhu and Redlicki each came up clutch with back-to-back forehand winners, though, putting championship point on the racket of Zhu. The sophomore’s serve was too hot to handle. Zhu leapt into the arms of Redlicki, who capped his storied career with the victory.

UCLA Associate coach Grant Chen, Martin Redlicki, Evan Zhu and head coach Billy Martin.

“There is no better way to go out at the end,” said Redlicki, who won his second doubles title in three seasons also taking the title in 2016 with Mackenzie McDonald. “I was just telling Evan that a month ago we were ranked No. 79 in the country and we couldn’t really find our footing. We really hit our stride and got into the tournament as one of the last teams in. We knew we were one of the best teams in the tournament if we got to work, good things would happen.”

Zhu added: “We had played them at National Indoors, we had an idea of how they played, but they also knew how we played. Every set literally came down to one or two points. We each had set points in the first set before they won it. We won the second set and then we each had match points in the third. We were just able to win the last point.”

“It was just like the match yesterday when that Ohio State team beat our other team (Keegan Smith and Austin Rapp),” said UCLA Men’s Coach Billy Martin. “A few points here or there were the difference. It looked like each team had a moment where they looked like they had it, but we caught a line on their match point and we took advantage of ours. It certainly was a fun one to get.”

Arianne Hartono – a senior at Ole Miss originally from Meppel, Netherlands – capped off her college career becoming the first Ole Miss player to win an NCAA women’s singles title as she beat Pepperdine sophomore Ashley Lahey in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

Hartono joined 2009 men’s tennis NCAA Champion Devin Britton as players from Ole Miss to win an NCAA singles title. The SEC Player of the Year trailed Lahey 3-1 and 4-2 in the first set.  But Hartono was able to shift the momentum and held in the 10th game for 5-5 and then broke Lahey twice to steal the first set 6-4.

Ashley Lahey

An ankle injury suffered by Lahey in the third game led to a brief medical timeout and Hartono managed a break of serve to go up 3-1. After a hold she added another break for 5-1 but Lahey wouldn’t quit, breaking back with Hartono serving for match. Hartono then managed a break of her own to take home the title.

Lahey, originally from Colorado who relocated to Southern California as a young junior to train with the USTA, ended her season with 27-5 overall record and 13-4 record against ranked competition.

One of the better storylines of the women’s singles event was the play of Pepperdine, as the No. 17 seeded Lahey was the first Pepperdine women’s tennis player to ever reach the NCAA Singles Championship final and as a result is also the first Pepperdine women’s player to end the season as the NCAA singles championship runner-up.

Looking to join teammate Lahey in the final, the No. 22-seed Mayar Sherif held match points against Hartono before succumbing, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2).

A third Waves player in the women’s draw Luisa Stefani shocked everyone early on with a three-set upset over top-seeded Bianca Turati of Texas, before falling to Hartono in the quarterfinals meaning Hartono beat three Waves in a row en route to the title.

]]> 0
NCAA Championships: Follow Your SoCal Teams! Thu, 10 May 2018 22:11:04 +0000 Read more »]]> The collegiate tennis season kicks into high gear this weekend as the 2018 NCAA Championships begin play, and three local venues will host regional action this weekend. Both UCLA squads are in strong contention, with the men ranked at #2 and the women at #12. The USC Trojan men round out the Top Ten at #10, while San Diego kicks off regional tournament play on Saturday morning. Check out our NCAA Preview below, including Divisions I, II, and III and the Southern California teams who look to end their season with trophies in hand!

MEN’S TOURNAMENT (click for updated results)

Southern California’s top ranked team, the #2 UCLA Bruins, host Division I men’s competition in Westwood at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. They face the international flair of Idaho to open the tournament on Saturday at 11am. Idaho is 15-7 overall this spring, led by senior Mark Kovacs and junior Carlos Longhi Neto. The squad features athletes from Hungary, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. UCLA features the nation’s #1 singles player, senior Martin Redlicki, along with sophomore Evan Zhu and the energetic junior Maxime Cressy. UCLA is undefeated at home this year, and did not lose a match within the conference. Losses to Wake Forest (NCAA top seed) and Stanford are the only blemishes on a spectacular season for the Bruins.

USC’s Brandon Holt

Also in Westwood, #39 University of San Diego looks for revenge against Texas Tech (Sat., 8am). The Toreros fell to the Red Raiders earlier this season in a 4-3 defeat at home, but the young USD roster led by talented freshman August Holmgren will hope to even the score on a grander stage. Meanwhile, Texas Tech (19-10 overall) looks to top singles player, Canadian Tommy Mylnikov, to set the stage for a first round upset.

At David X. Marks Stadium at USC, the #10 ranked Trojans face Big West champions UC Santa Barbara (Sat., 11am) to open tournament play. Brandon Holt and Daniel Cukierman lead the 17-8 Trojans, who won five of their last six matches in 2018, including a shutout win over Stanford. The Gouchos of Santa Barbara feature Big West Player of the Year Moreno de Alboran. The junior was 15-5 in dual match play this year, and 28-10 overall. UCSB has won ten straight matches entering tournament play.

Division II competition is already underway, with #4 Azusa Pacific (27-2) advancing with a win over #5 Lynn. The Cougars come into the tournament with plenty of firepower, featuring three singles players who exceeded 20 wins each during the regular season. Grad students Oliver Frank (23-1) and Christian Schmid (20-2), plus freshman Jakob Schnaitter (23-2), hope to extend their win streak into the semifinals at Surprise, Ariz., meeting #21 Drury in the second round on Thursday at noon.

At Claremont, Division III UC Santa Cruz meets Claremont M/S (Fri., 5pm). The Stags are 28-3 overall and 9-0 in conference play, including a 13-match winning streak. They have lost only three matches at the #1 line that features SCIAC Player of the Year Nikolai Parodi, one of four Stags to earn first team All-SCIAC honors.


WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT (click for updated results)

In Westwood on Friday, #12 UCLA (20-5) begins their trek toward a shot at the national title when the Bruins meet Fresno State (Fri., 1pm) to open the Division I women’s competition. Two-time PAC-12 Player of the Year Ena Shibahara (28-3) and sophomore Jada Hart (25-10) are among five Bruins to earn All-Conference Team accolades, only the second time in school history to honor five athletes with All-Conference status. Fresno State looks to gain an

UCLA’s Jada Hart

early advantage with Emma Wilson & Georgia Lawson, a strong doubles tandem who earned a berth in the NCAA doubles competition later this spring.

In Malibu, Pepperdine hosts Idaho (Fri., 1pm) as the #13 Waves look to build on a 22-2 season, with losses only to UCLA and UNC. Pepperdine held the top national ranking (USTA) for a portion of the spring, led by two players in the national top 25, Ashley Lahey (#18) and WCC Player of the Year Mayar Sherif (#22). Senior Laura Gulbe leads the team with 29 wins. The Waves have lost only seven individual matches in singles 1/2/3. At 15-6, Idaho claimed the Big Sky title this spring, led by Big Sky MVP Marianna Petrei (14-3) and First Team junior Maria Tavares.

Claremont Mudd Scripps is in the second of Division III play, to face the winner of UT Tyler / Whitman on Friday. The Athenas (24-2) received a first round bye and carry a three match win streak against Top 25 teams behind Catherine Allen, SCIAC Athlete of the Year among six Athenas with All-SCIAC honors.

]]> 0
‘THE PROCESS’: Perspectives on Recruitment and the College Tennis Experience Tue, 08 May 2018 19:19:11 +0000 Read more »]]>  

Considered by many as the nation’s top collegiate recruit, Brandon Nakashima has other things on his mind as he hoists the winning trophy at this year’s USTA International Spring Championships in Carson. While reporters want to know about his dominant performance, his competitive outlook, and what’s next on his tennis schedule, Nakashima is preparing to put backhands and topspin aside. He’s got one week to finish preparing for ACT college standardized testing, yet again balancing academics with sports, this time with emphasis more on the scholar and less on the athlete.

College is on the horizon, and like many talented young athletes, Nakashima has decisions to make. Coveted by collegiate tennis programs from coast to coast, the 16 year-old plays beneath a proverbial spotlight. Whether competing at Indian Wells during the qualifying rounds of the BNP Paribas Masters (pushing ATP #75 Canadian Vasek Pospisil to a second set tiebreak), or powering through the draw in Carson, Nakashima is under the watchful eye of coaches eager to add his prowess to their roster when Fall 2019 rolls around.

Brandon Nakashima (USTA SoCal)

He’s not alone. The Tennis Recruiting Network – an online watchdog tracking junior players nationwide – follows and rates promising athletes beginning as early as sixth grade. Sebastian Korda (son of former Australian Open champion Petr Korda) ranks at the top of senior level 18 year-olds and among the world’s top juniors, and is expected to forego a college experience to start his professional career as a teenager. Among girls, New York’s Elysia Bolton is the top 18 year-old; she will head west after committing to the UCLA Bruins earlier this year.

Why did Korda decide against college? Why did Bolton not turn pro? It’s a decision unique to each player, a multifaceted procedure that relies heavily on input from parents, other players, and coaches. What we do know is that every player is different – in skill, in personality, in confidence – and each will carve their own path in competitive tennis.

“Nowadays, many of the players who want to turn pro are just not ready,” according to Stella Sampras-Webster, who this year tallied her 400th win as head coach of the UCLA Women’s Tennis squad. “They are just not mature enough. It’s how they handle situations. The game is so physical now, their bodies still need to mature. But if they are committed, (college tennis) will not hurt their development.”

Sampras-Webster is no stranger to the collegiate experience. Only the second player in UCLA history to earn four All-American honors, she was an NCAA doubles champion in her freshman year and a finalist in her senior year, then turned pro and competed on the grand stages of Wimbledon and the US Open. Her younger brother Pete Sampras is a 14-time Grand Slam champion who, conversely, opted to forego college tennis and turned pro as a teenager.

“Pete had already proven himself at the age of sixteen,” Sampras-Webster recalls, noting that players who excel in such a manner are few and far between. “It definitely depends on the player.”


“The Process” starts as early as a player’s freshman or sophomore year, with varying levels of immediacy based on the prowess of the recruit. A rare find – perhaps, a player who has exceled at an unusually rapid pace – will garner the attention of prospective college coaches as early as three years before they select a college program. The vast majority, however, tend to mature throughout their high school career, proactively reaching out to university programs for consideration. But competition can be fierce, with only a select number of slots available in any given year, for any given team.

UCLA’s Stella Sampras-Webster (USTA SoCal)

When recruiting a talented junior player, coaches are likely to make a proactive connection with the player’s existing private or high school coach. This first step in The Process is rather informative for college staff, who will look to further develop a relationship with the player as time progresses and a mutual interest is expressed.

“Once we figure out that it’s a player who will fit our program and our team,” says Sampras-Webster, “it gets proactive. But we have to continue to be patient. Some will make a big jump closer to junior year, and they come on the radar.”

The Process accelerates toward those latter years of high school, when both the athlete and the colleges assess and focus their goals and expectations. Important campus visits are scheduled (a new NCAA policy will soon allow for high school juniors to make early official campus visits, perhaps expediting recruitment/commitment methods), recruitment regulations come into play, and crucial decisions loom on the horizon as players weigh academics, athletics, and team obligations. Coaches, on the other hand, must strategically fill open spots on their roster.

“It’s like a game,” Sampras-Webster says, just as she and her coaching staff fill the three open slots on the Fall ’18 roster. “So much of it is timing, and you want to be as honest as possible (with recruits).” Admittedly, Sampras-Webster says, it can be difficult to continue to recruit players who are not the program’s number one choice, and keep all of them engaged as The Process plays out.

In other instances, the recruit may be overly steadfast in their selection of a school and tennis program, an approach that could be detrimental to both parties.

USC’s Peter Smith (USC Trojans)

“It is a shame that most kids decide what school to go to before the official visit,” notes Peter Smith, Men’s Tennis Head Coach at the University of Southern California (USC), who looks to fill three slots of his own this fall. “The official visit gives so much information to the recruit and the school.”

For Smith, a Division I head coach for thirty years now in his 16th at the helm of the Trojans, the team benefits from players who are good students not just in the classroom, but on the tennis court. “(I look for) character, grit, the ability to listen, and the ability to work hard,” he says. “If a kid will work hard, listen, and communicate then everything else usually takes care of itself.”

“Reputations are out there,” warns Sampras-Webster, acknowledging that the team can easily determine if a prospect has difficulty getting along with teammates and may not be a fit for the close knit Bruins. Instead, the program flourishes with players who are “coachable, grateful, who enjoy being part of a team and working toward a team championship. Players who love to play, and love the sport,” she says.

The best resource for insight into team prospects? The current roster, according to Sampras-Webster. “They are the ones who know who would fit in here,” she says.


Danielle Lao is a two-time USC All American and 2008 USTA National Open champion, currently touring as a professional at ITF and WTA circuit events. In 2013, Lao co-wrote “The Invaluable Experience” as a resource for players and parents who face the potentially daunting task of juggling life, school, and sports.

“As a teenager,” Lao recalls, “choosing a college was the biggest decision of my life at that point,” adding that the experience was “very stressful, but at the same time very exciting… I didn’t want to take my decision lightly, so I pushed myself to talk to all coaches that contacted me just to give myself an accurate overview on what was being offered at every university that wanted me.”

Danielle Lao (contributed photo)

One of Lao’s most essential resources? Her parents. In nearly all cases, The Process relies heavily on parental input, advice, and guidance. In some instances, selecting a college or university represents the final major decision that a parent will make in tandem with a child who yearns for freedom and adulthood.

For Cris Nakashima, Brandon’s mother, that kind of communication is essential. As she prepares to send her son off to college with lofty aspirations in tow, Cris
assumes not just the role of parent, but also that of advisor, and perhaps her most valuable resources are the coaches who hope to bring Brandon into the fold.

“I think the best college coaches will communicate very effectively and honestly with the parents of their prospective players,” says Cris. “We don’t need to create our own relationship with a prospective coach, but the coach should be able to tell parents and players alike how they will implement their programs in the foreseeable future.”

As college coaches develop a relationship with recruits, the same approach occurs with parents. With every new recruit comes a new set of parents, engaged in a journey of their own to put their son or daughter in the best possible environment to grow and succeed.

“It takes a village to raise kids,” says Smith, who has coached two of his three sons at USC, “and parents are the most important people in a teenager’s life. I spend as much time as we need talking to the parents.”

“It’s really important that parents are educated so they can be supportive, and not add to the stress of their child,” advises Sampras-Webster, who makes every effort to meet a recruit’s parents as early in The Process as possible, well before a player commits to the Bruins. “If you let the player deal with coaches and decisions, it helps the player grow up.” If not, she says, kids are likely to bottle up their emotions and challenges, and it becomes tough on the young athlete.

Off the court and aside from the collegiate program, perhaps the most vital communication happens at home, in the private family setting between recruited prospects and their parents. Fielding overtures from schools like UCLA, USC, and Stanford, the Nakashimas may have a wealth of options, but the decision will rely heavily on factors ranging from coaching philosophies and teammates to academic opportunity and school culture.

“We don’t think Brandon can go wrong with the options available to him,” Cris Nakashima confides. “But our family is tight knit, and we will likely discuss his options at length before he decides. Ultimately, Brandon will make the decision and we will be supportive and happy for him… There are countless components and considerations that require attention and no one wants to make a mistake in this big decision, especially us as parents.”

“Chances are this is as new a process to the recruit as it is to the parent, so they need each other to make this big decision,” Danielle Lao adds. Parental consultation is crucial, she says, yet even with invaluable input from parents, the students should make the ultimate decision and begin to carve their own path. “Sometimes parental input starts to outweigh the recruit’s (input),” she warns. “At the end of the day this decision should be based off what the recruit wants, and it’s a parent’s job to help steer them in that direction.”

Parental input was crucial for Ashley Lahey, a former SCTA Player of the Year who in 2016 was the #6 rated female prospect in the country. She’d considered an Ivy League education that would parlay itself into medical school, but ultimately heeded sage advice of her father in selecting a suitable university that would foster both her academic and athletic requirements.

“My dad is a Yale alum,” Lahey recalls, “and he told me that if I chose (an Ivy League school) I would not be able to pursue tennis the way I wanted to. He said studies were vigorous and professors were often inflexible. He wanted me to go to a place where I could thrive in academics and tennis simultaneously and keep my dreams alive in both.”

Lahey made her commitment to Malibu, where she majors in Sports Medicine and competes in her second year with the Pepperdine Waves, a top Division I program. “After visiting Pepperdine,” she says of her recruitment experience, “I had this incredible gut feeling that I belonged at the school. I always tell my friends to follow their gut feelings. You will get a feeling that this is the place where you belong.”


There are multiple schools of thought relating to college athletics and pro aspirations, most notably as a source of ongoing chatter within the football or basketball ranks, where the pressure on highly talented young players to declare pro eligibility is palpable. As a result, pro athletes like Jennifer Brady or Mackenzie McDonald – both UCLA Bruins who turned pro after two decorated seasons in Westwood – regularly opt for an abbreviated university experience and depart after one or two years to embark on a professional career.

Sampras-Webster has seen players join her team, only to embark on the pro tour just two years after arriving at UCLA. Still, she does not see the practice as a recruitment deterrent.

“It’s OK, as long as they are up front with me (about their professional aspirations),” she concedes. “We’re trying to get the best players out there. Having Jennifer Brady on our team helped our program.”

But Sampras-Webster is quick to remind about the pitfalls of best-laid plans. “It doesn’t always work out,” she says of players anticipating a shortened college career. Instead, the recommended approach is to reevaluate after two years to weigh the athlete’s preparation and ability to acclimate to the demands of a pro lifestyle.

Pepperdine’s Ashley Lahey (Pepperdine Waves)

“Good academics is just as important as playing tennis at a given college,” says young Nakashima, who is smart to consider the entirety of a college experience but won’t rule out an accelerated path to the pro tour. Heeding Sampras-Webster’s advice, he agrees that academics will remain a top priority. “I don’t look at a good education as my backup to a tennis career; I see it as a strong base for what I will do after I stop playing competitive tennis.”

“I made my college choice based on the team culture, school reputation, and overall quality of life I envisioned students had at each school,” recalls Lao, a Southern California native. “Heavily weighted academics was not ideal, nor was heavily weighted athletics. There had to be a nice balance between the two to yield a balanced quality of life. I wanted to grow as a person, not just as a tennis player or as a student.”


At any given match, recruiting staff from a handful of schools could be in the shadows, watching from the sidelines while gathering their own insight and opinions on Southern California prospects. For a sixteen year-old like Brandon Nakashima, that alone could be a source of stress and pressure, yet he takes it very much in stride.

“When I’m practicing or playing tournaments,” Nakashima says, appreciative of the interest and attention he’s received, “I am pretty focused on the tennis in front of me because there is only so much court time I have to get better.”

From a coach’s perspective, the goal is to witness potential without adding any pressure to the situation.

“I always tell kids when I am watching them that I am always rooting for them,” Peter Smith says, “and not to feel pressure from me watching. I am there to support them because I believe in them. I never try and pressure kids to make a decision. I always want them to feel like they made the right decision, in their time.”

By this time next year, Nakashima and his tennis peers will have come to that much-anticipated conclusion. Some will commit to the university of choice, while others will wait and hope for a roster invitation. A few faces may even jump to the pro tour, banking on reward over risk. Each will determine if their return on investment was worth The Process.

“I know there are no guarantees,” Nakashima admits. “But if I work hard and keep improving, I hope that there will be more opportunities to play at the pro level. One of my main goals is to become a top college player, since this will signal my readiness to compete at the highest pro tennis level.”

Of course, he’s already dipped his feet in the pool. At Indian Wells opposite the skilled Canadian Pospisil, Nakashima took a little time to shake off the nerves and eventually fell into his groove before reaching the decisive tiebreaker.

“It was an experience I’d love to go through again – hopefully next time as a better player who can pull off an upset.”

And, perhaps, with his college teammates cheering him on from the sidelines.


– Darryl Nash




]]> 1
The Ojai ROAD TRIP – A Rite of Passage for Tennis Lovers in the Spring Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:47:56 +0000 Read more »]]> When Scott Cleere first became the Director of Tennis at the Templeton Tennis Ranch back in 2015, he wanted to introduce some of his new members at the new facility just south of Paso Robles to a one-day tennis-watching experience that they would never forget.

And The Ojai ROAD TRIP he and his buddy Franky Curiel had started a few years prior was the perfect fit for his new membership.

Cleere first experienced The Ojai in 2013, and said his first trip to the tournament started in 1896 was something special.

“It was magical,” Cleere said. “The setting, the trees, the tea. It was like something you couldn’t even describe. And then the tennis. I mean, just unreal that you could go to a place and see the Pac-12 Championships, the other colleges, the open players AND SoCal’s top juniors. Libbey Park is a special place. You can feel the history. It’s a place of reverence and deep respect for the most essential heart of the sport of tennis.”

Scott and Franky wanted others to see and feel what he did. So a few years ago, Cleere began talking up The Ojai ROAD TRIP to anyone who would listen. Soon, they filled a van of 12 to 15 local San Luis Obispo County tennis fans who made the three hour one-way trip all day trip on the last Saturday in April. He said his goal is to someday charter a bus and fill it with 50 fans and bring them on The Ojai ROAD TRIP to sip tea from the Tea Tent, and watch tennis all day under the huge oak trees that hang down on Libbey Park.

The Ojai’s PR and Marketing Director Steve Pratt soon learned about The Ojai ROAD TRIP and was eager to help Scott and Franky promote it with discounted tickets, and a special welcoming at the front of the park where Pratt talked about the past history of The Ojai. Both Cleere and Pratt currently serve on the SCTA’s Volunteer Marketing Committee.

Scott and Franky would love to have other tennis clubs or community groups start an Ojai ROAD TRIP, and Pratt said he would assist any way he could. Anything to get more people to experience The Ojai, Pratt said.

If your group is interested in doing an Ojai ROAD TRIP, there is a little time before next week’s tournament, which begins on Wednesday with the finals running till Sunday, April 29. But there’s always next year! Please feel free to contact Scott or Franky if you have any questions.

]]> 2
SoCal Shines at TOC National Championship Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:14:16 +0000 Read more »]]> Southern California schools were forces to be reckoned with at the 2018 Tennis On Campus National Championship in Orlando. USTA Southern California sent four teams to the event, each of them earning incredible wins during the tournament and making names for themselves at the national level. In the end, three Southern California teams finished in the top eight of the country – a feat not many other sections have ever achieved.

UCSD at the Tennis on Campus Nationals, Lake Nona, Fla.

UC San Diego finished best of the SoCal teams – 4th in the country – after a heartbreaking loss in the semifinals to eventual National Champions Ohio State. A veteran Triton squad earned their bid to Nationals after finishing third at the Section Championship in San Diego back in February. Heading into the tournament, the Tritons looked relaxed yet confident, which might have been their key to success.

On Day 1, UC San Diego was listed as the second seed in Pool “O”. They drew Iowa State and University of Delaware before getting their chance to topple #1 Wisconsin. While the Tritons had not dropped a set through their first two matches of the day, they were wise not to underestimate Wisconsin, the Midwest Section champions. Women’s doubles launched into the match with a dominant win and men’s doubles were able to get the Tritons six more games after a slow start in their set. The team struggled in men’s and women’s singles against two Badger backboards, but maintained a slight lead heading into mixed doubles. That’s when UC San Diego took control of the match. Aggressive net play from Senior Ryan Lee and powerful serves from Mina Vukovic put UC San Diego into the Gold Bracket.

On Friday, UCSD faced University of Pennsylvania, and pulled out a 24-16 win. The match standout was JP Boyd, who posted six unanswered games for the Tritons.

It’s never easy to play a Southern California team at the National Championship, but due to the strength of SoCal teams and their deep runs in the tournament, it happens almost every year. That’s what happened when UCSD and Cal Poly SLO faced off in a critical match, with a semifinal berth in the balance.

UCSD and Cal Poly both wanted the win and entered the match fired up. San Diego started slow in doubles, but managed to pull out victories in both men’s and women’s doubles with big comebacks. Two UCSD women’s singles players got their crack at Cal Poly, but only earned one game all together. Boyd put up another 6-0 win in men’s singles, which helped neutralize the loss on the women’s side. The Tritons had a cushion going into mixed doubles, and sealed the deal, thrusting them into the semifinals against Ohio State.

UCSD at the Tennis on Campus Nationals, Lake Nona, Fla.

Saturday morning was tense. Everyone knew what was at stake. Ohio State had won the Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational earlier that year, so they were ready for battle. UCSD started slow, but kept the doubles matches competitive, losing 4-6 and 5-6. The Tritons faced another backboard in men’s singles and dropped the set 4-6. The match MVP was Smita Sabada, who played incredible tennis against a worthy adversary. She nabbed a 6-4 win, keeping the Tritons within striking distance. Dynamic duo of Ryan and Mina entered into mixed doubles down just three games. A 6-2 win in mixed doubles would win them the match. UCSD had the momentum and was up 3-1 on the first changeover, but Ohio State was not going down easy. The match went back and forth with switches in aggression and dominance, both teams fighting to remain in the hunt for TOC title.

UCSD won the set in a tiebreak, taking the match into overtime. They needed just two consecutive games to take the match to a Super Tiebreaker. They got one of those games, but ended up falling just a few points short. Ohio State went on to play UNC in the championship final and made easy work of the Tar Heels late Saturday night.

The Tritons finished in fourth place overall.

UCLA earned their bid to the National Championship as the Southern California Section Championship winners. They traveled to Orlando this year with most of the same squad from their 2017 run at Nationals – a run that earned them third place overall. Heading into 2018, the Bruins had their eyes on the number 1 spot.

They entered into pool play on Thursday as the top seed in Pool B. They faced Colorado State, University of Rhode Island, and University of Texas at Austin. The Bruins cruised through their first two matches of

Team UCLA at the Tennis on Campus Nationals

the day, but to earn their place into the Gold Bracket, they had to beat a confident Texas team who was ready to battle. The match was close, but the Bruins were up going into mixed doubles. Texas fought back and won the mixed doubles set, sending the match into Overtime. Texas had to win three consecutive games to bring the match to a final Super Tiebreaker, and they looked like they had enough momentum to get it done. UCLA gave up one shaky game in Overtime, but ultimately cut Texas out of the Gold Bracket. Bruins won 26-23.

Friday, UCLA faced Maryland in the first round of the Gold Bracket. Elyse Pham was the MVP of the match. The Bruins subbed Elyse in for women’s singles, and she somehow managed to come back from match points at 3-5 to win the set 6-5 in a tiebreaker. The Bruins never felt threatened though, and earned a comfortable win of 26-19.

Their next opponents, however, were not going to roll over. The UNC Chapel Hill team is no stranger to the National Championship and the Tar Heels were just as hungry for the National Title as the Bruins. Every set was close, winning or losing by one or two games. Heading into mixed doubles, UCLA was down one game. They faced a fierce mixed doubles team and ended up losing the set, sending them into a playoff for 5th place.

UCLA took out Cornell Friday afternoon and faced Midwest Section runners up Illinois Saturday morning. The Illini wanted 5th place and put up a serious fight against the Bruins who mixed things up in their line-up giving graduating seniors a chance to play for their last TOC match of their career. In the end, the Bruins got the “W” after a close mixed doubles set to a team who hadn’t lost during the whole tournament. UCLA finished 5th in the nation.

Cal Poly SLO at the Tennis on Campus Nationals

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo finished 2nd at the Section Championship and was excited for play to start in Orlando. The team had a mix of veteran TOC players and some fresh blood who proved to be serious assets during the tournament.

In pool play, Cal Poly faced Northeastern, Rice, and University of Maryland Baltimore County. They cruised through all three matches and found themselves in the Gold Bracket on Friday morning playing against the 2016 National Champion Auburn. Many credited Auburn’s 2016 victory to the strength of one former varsity player who was dominant in women’s singles and mixed doubles through the tournament. By the end of day 1, everyone at the tournament site knew this girl was back, and that she brought her little sister to the team with her.

The Mustangs knew what they were up against, both with Auburn and their history at the Championship. For the past three years, Cal Poly had lost in the first round of the Gold Bracket, but the Mustangs were determined to break the streak. President Alex Braksator loaded the team up with Starbucks early Saturday morning, so the Mustangs started the match caffeinated and ready. Women’s doubles pulled out a quick 6-0 win. The team struggled in Men’s Doubles, but turned things around after a mid-set substitution. The match standout was Jenna Bloom, who played women’s singles against the feared Auburn player. She played hard and fast from the baseline, and earned a 6-1 win. Adam Langevin played an arduous match in men’s singles, but was able to add six games to the Mustangs’ lead. Cal Poly closed the door on Auburn in a fiery set of mixed doubles, breaking the three year curse in the Gold Bracket.

Their next opponent was UCSD, which the team ended up losing in a hard-fought battle. They played Illinois and Cornell in the Northern portion of the Gold Bracket backdraw. Cal Poly went into these matches focusing on the team camaraderie and allowing all players to compete in the final matches. The Mustangs finished 8th in the country.

San Diego State at the Tennis on Campus Nationals

San Diego State earned their bid to the National Championship at the 2017 Spring Invitational. While the Aztecs were not playing with the complete roster from the Spring Invite, this group of Aztecs did not disappoint. Since the team did not earn a bid to the championship from their finish at the Section championship, the Aztecs were placed as the number 4 team in their pool. In their first match of the tournament – an early 8 a.m. match – the Aztecs played the number one team in their pool Columbia. They ended up winning this match in a Super Tiebreaker. They then had to face the eventual national champions Ohio State, where they put up a good fight, but lost 16-24. They finished out pool play against Colorado School of the Mines, putting the Aztecs into the Silver Bracket.

First up, the not to be underestimated 2017 Gold Bracket semifinalists Minnesota. Not a problem. Aztecs win 26-18. In the quarterfinals, they faced a rowdy team from Rutgers and won without dropping a set. In the semifinals, Wisconsin was the team’s next victim. It was a much tighter match, but the team came together and pulled out a 26-24 win. In the final, San Diego State battled against Florida, but one player from the Gators proved to be too much in men’s singles and mixed doubles. SDSU fell to Florida in the final of the Silver Bracket, but finished as the 18th best school in the nation.

In the end, the Southern California teams left Orlando with a lot to be proud of. The tennis was incredibly memorable, but it’s the time spent with their teammates that TOC SoCal players will take with them forever.

For more information on the USTA’s Tennis On Campus National Championship, click here.

]]> 1
CTC Program visits UCLA, meets top-ranked Bruins Fri, 13 Apr 2018 20:16:08 +0000 Read more »]]> Some of the most talented young tennis players in Southern California recently enjoyed a visit to Westwood and L.A. Tennis Center on the campus of UCLA, where they got a first-hand look at one of the finest college teams in the country.

As part of the USTA Competition Training Center (CTC) program – an elite team training and competition for youngsters ages 10-13, comprised of six SoCal regional teams – two squads from Central Coast and Orange County competed against each other on UCLA courts. Following their games, both teams enjoyed a Meet & Greet with Bruin players before settling in to experience a showdown between top-ranked Men’s UCLA Bruins and the California Golden Bears.

Yet while the on-court competition was engaging, these young boys and girls gained valuable experience when meeting with coaches and players from UCLA. Head coach Billy Martin talked to the youngsters about maintaining school grades and working towards a college experience, before the CTC players found themselves hitting live ball and drills with Bruin players.

“That’s the best part of the program, to be honest with you,” says Hank Lloyd of Costa Mesa Tennis Center, who leads the Orange County CTC squad. “The players are great. They just grab a kid to go out and hit. Imagine going out on the court with Martin Redlicki (UCLA’s top singles player) to hit live ball. That’s interaction you can’t buy.”

Other college programs, including Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, have also welcomed CTC players to experience college tennis.

“All the Bruin players were having as much fun as the kids were during the hitting sessions,” says Mark McCampbell, who heads up the Central Coast team. “(The kids) enjoyed rooting for the Bruins… and truly enjoyed hitting with the team.”

The collegiate players themselves are no strangers to CTC tennis, as many of them (including UCLA associate head coach Grant Chen) have emerged from CTC teams. Pro names like Steve Johnson and Taylor Dent have also been part of the CTC program.

To learn more about Competition Training Center in Southern California, please contact Megan Heneghan at

]]> 0
San Diego Christian College Men’s and Women’s Teams in the Hunt for Conference Championships Thu, 29 Mar 2018 17:30:12 +0000 Read more »]]> The San Diego Christian College women’s team recently defeated Arizona Christian College, 6-3, thanks to “Team Sarah.” The freshmen duo of No. 1 Sarah Schaerer from Switzerland and No. 2 Sarah Urbanek from Germany helped the Hawks to their 4-0 record in the Golden State Athletic Conference this season. San Diego Christian College is 7-5 overall, and are the defending GSAC Conference Champions.

With the season coming to a close, San Diego Christian College Women’s Coach Jim Bodor has encouraged his team to keep playing solid tennis. The Hawks previously lost, 6-3, to Arizona Christian College in an earlier match to even out their meetings 1-1 this season, and were thrilled with this victory.  The San Diego Christian men’s team defeated defending GSAC conference champion Arizona Christian College, 6-3, in an upset victory. They are now 6-5 overall, and 3-1 in conference.  


Schaerer and Urbanek, also nicknamed “Team Sarah,”are excited to be living in San Diego and experience life in the United States. Both enjoy playing on California hard courts  in the sunshine.

“I grew up playing on outdoor clay and indoor carpet,” said Urbanek, from Hamm, Germany. “It’s nice to have a consistent bounce on the hard surface and I’m glad I don’t have to think about sliding.”

Other observations from “Team Sarah” include playing sports at the university level, which is not available in their respective countries. San Diego Christian College offers athletic scholarships as part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) association that promotes teamwork, sportsmanship, respect, fairness and doing one’s best regardless of the outcome.



“Back at home we play on our own,” said Sarah Schaerer. “Here we play for our team and we are part of something really great. There are people who care about you. It’s like having a family in America.”

San Diego Christian College hosts Hope International University on April 7 at Lake Murray Tennis Club in San Diego. The GSAC Tournament will be held on April 19-20 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“Every match is so critical,” said Bodor, also the San Diego Christian College men’s head coach. “We have a shot at a repeat (conference) title but much depends on what happens with the next few weeks.”

]]> 0
SOCAL’s #1 Junior: Build A High IQ Tennis Player Tue, 27 Feb 2018 01:35:53 +0000 Read more »]]> Cali Jankowski of Southern California is SoCal’s #1 ranked junior as well as the #5 nationally ranked junior. She recently shared her College Administration Essay, when asked to write about the college admissions process. Her message? Build a high IQ tennis player, and the results will follow. Here’s a look at Cali’s insightful essay!

Photo Credit: SD Union Tribune

College Admissions

As an athlete, my college admissions experience was incredibly different from the average teen. I was fortunate enough to receive multiple full scholarships offered to me by the best universities in the country. My college search started during my freshman year, as I began researching schools that had both a competitive tennis program and good business program.

To anyone who is starting the process, I recommend beginning the search process by creating a list of everything you want in a university. What kind of weather is most comfortable to you? Which majors are most appealing to you? Is a big city or a small college town more desirable to you? Are you more comfortable with a small or large school? Does the school have a strong football team which affords more money to other sports? What kind of academic support do the athletes receive? Outlining your “dream school” makes it is easier to eliminate schools. The smaller your pool of schools, the less overwhelming it will be to find a good match.

Once I identified the schools that I was most interested in, I started sending out emails to express my interest in their school and hopefully get an idea if I was on their radar? (High-performance athletes often are known entities to college coaches.) I carefully formulate an email that outlined my tennis and academic successes, what I was looking for in a school, and why I was interested in their school. Taking the time to create a thoughtful email shows a strong work ethic and responsibility- two crucial life skill sets college coaches look for in recruits. Be sure your email is written by you, the athlete, and not the parent. One final piece of advice in regards to sending out emails is to include a tie to the university if you have one.
Luckily, I did get some responses, and I was able to call a few schools to set up unofficial college visits. (Note: that a school cannot legally call you back if they miss your call until September 1st of your junior year.) A few months into my sophomore year, I took unofficial visits to two of my top schools Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Arizona (U of A). I loved both schools.

Fast forward to my junior year; I received dozens of emails and letters from schools like UNC-Chapel Hill, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, Virginia, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia, Michigan and many others. My parents made it clear from the beginning that they could not afford to visit all the schools on my list and so I needed to narrow down my list. I started to nitpick schools and became more precise about what I wanted. I took the time to respond to all emails to let them know my level of interest. (Remember to be responsible: All offers need a response- positive or negative. Politely rejecting a college coach’s offer allows them to move on to the next recruit.) At this stage in the process, all signs pointed to Arizona, Arizona State and Ohio State. I then arrange for an official visit all three schools.

I walked away from my first visit to U of A absolutely in love. Then, I visited ASU a week later and to my surprise, ASU topped U of A. I couldn’t make a final decision just yet, as I still had one more visit to Ohio State planned two months later. Despite having one more school to visit, I was feeling destined to be in Tempe, Arizona at ASU. So, I cancelled my visit to Ohio State. My parents encouraged me to take some time to think through my choice to make sure I wasn’t making a rash decision. So, I had been thinking about it for about a week, when my father received a call form a university coach questioning my interest? The coach told my father that I seemed distant… At this point, I decided it was time to pull the trigger and make my decision known. My heart was set on ASU and I felt terrible stringing along the other schools. So that night I called the head coach of ASU, Sheila McInerney, and happily accepted the scholarship. I haven’t looked back since.

The college search process for an athlete is much easier when the athlete has taken the time before the college search process to develop their game and become an accomplished athlete- working hard for countless hours on-court and off-court refining their physical, mental, emotional and athletic skill sets. College coaches are aware of accomplished athletes and their potential contribution to their team and school, making the search process much simpler for the elite athlete.

So to all the parents reading this: If you build a high IQ tennis player, the college coaches will come by the masses. I thank my parents for supporting my athletic dream and helping me maximize my potential in every aspect of the game, but, not demanding perfection. There should be no part of their game that can break down by counter punchers, cheaters or pushers- the “gate-keeper” of elite junior tennis development.

While the college search process is a stressful time, parents, coaches and children alike should enjoy every second, as it is an unprecedented process that many families may never get the chance to experience. It’s not every day that universities throw scholarships at you!

Now, in the second semester of my senior year of high school, I can proudly say I was accepted to the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. I will be majoring in Sports and Media Studies with the hopes of becoming a sports agent or working on the marketing side of a professional sporting organization. I have no regrets as to how quickly I chose a college because it took a massive weight off my shoulders which then caused my tennis game to improve immensely. I cannot wait to begin my new journey of being a college athlete. Go Devils!

]]> 2
UCLA Takes TOC Section Championship Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:53:48 +0000 Read more »]]> At USTA Southern California, Assistant Director of Adult Tennis Madeline Segura is the face of Tennis On Campus. After a raucous weekend in San Diego for this year’s Sectionals, Madeline found time to decompress after a wild weekend and provide a glimpse at the TOC experience that led to UCLA and Cal Poly SLO in a battle for Sectional bragging rights…

I could not have asked for a better weekend for the Tennis On Campus Section Championships. A small contingent of SCTA staff and volunteers arrived midday Friday at San Diego’s Balboa Tennis Club to prep the site. The sun was shining and the courts were busy as we started setting up. Dozens of players drilled and rallied throughout the 25-court facility. Members relaxed and watched Tennis Channel in the Club Lounge. Facility staff chatted with passersby near the reservation desk. It was the typical Friday afternoon at Balboa. Despite the activity, there was a casual and routine calmness in the air. I knew, however, that in less than 24 hours, Balboa would feel like a completely different place. The grounds would be filled with more than 250 club tennis players, friends, and family. The place would be buzzing with excitement and fiery competition.

Saturday morning came and so did the hordes of Tennis On Campus enthusiasts. 14 schools and 24 different teams took to their courts. The schools to watch out for were UCLA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego – deemed the event’s “top seeds” based on 2017-2018 tournament results and their 2018 Sectional roster. As adoring fans settled into their viewing areas, off we went into pool play. With three teams in each pool, their finish in pool play decided their respective placement into bracket play Saturday afternoon.

The schools to watch out for were UCLA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego. Those teams were deemed the event’s “top seeds” based on 2017-2018 tournament results and their 2018 Sectional roster.

For most of Saturday, the energy around the grounds was high-spirited and busy. When the teams weren’t battling on court, they found themselves in a haven of activity – posing for crazy team photos, snapping selfies for tournament contests, purchases TOC swag from the NetKnacks booth, and playing intense games of giant Jenga or water pong.

Once pool play ended, teams advanced into brackets: Gold for each pool’s first place finisher. Silver for each pool’s second place finisher. And Ruby for each pool’s third place finisher.

Heading into Gold were UCLA, Cal Poly SLO, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, USC, University of San Diego, and San Diego State.

Into Silver went UCSD-B, UCI-B, UCLA-B, UCLA-C, Pepperdine, USC-B, UCSB-B

UCR, Claremont Colleges, Cal Poly SLO, Cal State Fullerton, USD-B, LMU, Pepperdine-B headed to Ruby.

The sun began to set as the first matches of bracket play went to court. The atmosphere had an edge to it that was absent during the day. In the Gold Bracket, three bids to the National Championships were at stake and all eight teams wanted them.

After the first round of play, the tournament’s four seeds remained. UCLA would play UCSD and Cal Poly would play UCI. All four teams competed at the 2017 National Championship, which at this point, seemed like a distant memory. It was there that UCI and UCLA finished 2nd and 3rd in the nation respectively. So, as our final four Gold Bracket teams headed into the semi-finals, all four knew that just one more win would ensure their spot back at the National Championship.

It was UCLA and Cal Poly SLO that came out victorious. They were slated to face each other in the Southern California final for the third straight year. In the past two contests, Cal Poly came out on top. However, it was UCLA that was better prepared for battle this year. The Bruins took the Gold Bracket trophy, dropping only one set and finishing 25-16.

UCI and UCSD dueled for the third and final Nationals bid. In the end, the Tritons claimed the W beating UCI 30-8.
In the Silver Draw, UCLA-B took down UCSD-B in the final. That win earned them paid entry to the 2018 Spring Invitational, which will take place in March in Surprise, Az.

Cal Poly-B won the Ruby Bracket, which earned them a case of balls and a gift card for the team.

Though competition ended Sunday afternoon, it did not mark the end of the Tennis On Campus season. There were still several events for students to look forward to as they left the courts at Balboa Tennis Club. USD will host their first section tournament at the end of February. A handful of schools will compete at the Spring Invitational in Surprise, AZ in March. And of course, for UCLA, Cal Poly, UCSD, and SDSU (who earned their own bid to Nationals from their 2nd place finish at the 2017 Spring Invite) are heading into a busy training season before Nationals.

The 2018 Tennis On Campus National Championship will run April 12-14 at the USTA’s National Campus in Orlando, FL. Follow our teams on Twitter (@ustasocal) as they represent Southern California on the grandest scale this spring!

]]> 0
Fun and Fierce Competition at the TOC 2018 Sectionals Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:12:05 +0000 Read more »]]> Fun and Fierce Competition at the Tennis on Campus So Cal Sectionals in San Diego

After a successful junior tennis career, Carissa Bernhardt of San Diego decided to focus on academics when she attended San Diego State University.

Now a sophomore, she’s back on the court competing for SDSU in its Tennis on Campus program recently at the TOC Southern California Sectional Championships at Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego.

Bernhardt, a two-time CIF San Diego Section Doubles Champion, is in her second TOC season. She helped her team qualify for USTA TOC Nationals on April 12-14 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

“I like TOC because it’s competitive but it doesn’t have the same time requirements as a Division I team,” Berhnardt said. “It’s a good balance.”

For Bernhard, however, Tennis on Campus is a family affair. Her brother, Christopher, will be representing the University of Arizona at the upcoming TOC Nationals. Christopher, architecture major, is the captain of his team.

“You make a lot of friends from all of the other schools,” Bernhardt said. “The tournaments are great because you get to see them all at the same time. I am super excited to go to nationals with my family.”

A total of 13 different schools sent 24 teams to compete in the recent Southern California Sectional Championships. The top 3 finishers qualified for Nationals. UCLA beat Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the final, and UC San Diego clinched third over UC Irvine. San Diego State University qualified at the 2017 Spring Invitational. Other participating schools included the University of San Diego, USC, Pepperdine, Claremont College, Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside, Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara.

SDSU qualified for TOC Nationals in April.

Off the court social activities were plentiful with fun photo props, water pong and a giant game of Jenga. While waiting to play teams mingled and enjoyed lunch on a beautiful San Diego weekend.

“The competition was as fierce as always in So Cal,” said TOC Tournament Director Madeline Segura. “There was a different kind of buzz throughout the grounds this year.

Whether the teams were on the court or battling in an intense game of water pong, there was great energy the entire weekend.”

Special thanks go to Balboa Tennis Club for hosting the event. Great appreciation to Balboa Tennis Club Director Colleen Ferrell, whose kindness and hospitality made it a fantastic experience for all. For more event photos, please go to  Good luck to the four teams who will represent So Cal in April.

]]> 0
USTA’s College Knowledge Inspires Players and Parents Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:11:58 +0000 Read more »]]> What does it take to get a college tennis scholarship? Outstanding answers came from tennis professionals at the recent College Knowledge Workshop held at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego. The event was sponsored by the USTA and organized by USPTA Pro Amanda Fink, a former tour player and ITA All-America pick. The goal was to hear from the professionals about many types of tennis opportunities at the collegiate level including NCAA Division I, II & III schools, USTA’s Tennis on Campus program, NAIA opportunities, the importance of fitness, and the benefits of Community College tennis.

Over 50 coaches, parents and players attended the free workshop. It was a great opportunity to ask key questions to expert panelists including USC Assistant Women’s Coach Chris Wootton, San Diego Christian College Women’s Coach Priscilla Jensen, USD Assistant Men’s Coach Rich Bonfiglio,  San Diego City Men’s and Women’s Coaches Brandon Lupian and Jami Jones, Andrea Tyndall of Athletic Evolution, and Madeline Segura of USTA’s Tennis on Campus (TOC).

Fink opened the workshop by sharing her personal story of how tennis helped her in college and beyond, as she now holds a prestigious teaching position at the Santaluz Club in San Diego. She works with high school athletes on and off the court.

“Parents this is your chance to get real answers from some of the best,” Fink said. “You can ask the coaches questions in general but can’t specifically ask about your child.” General information that was shared includes the following:

  • Women’s NCAA Division I and NAIA programs offer full scholarships where Division II schools typically offers partial rides to female athletes. Men’s Division I and II colleges usually offer partial rides. Men’s and Women’s Division III schools can’t give athletic aid.
  • Community Colleges are great opportunities to get an almost free education and play college tennis while in pursuit of an Associate Degree or transfer to a four-year school.
  • USTA’s Tennis on Campus (TOC) is a USTA Program at 25 colleges across the country, and they offer great tennis at a high levels while not being a varsity sport. Perks include great competition and travel. Scholarships are not needed to play TOC.

“The level of commitment is the biggest difference between Division I, II and III schools,” Wootton said. “Tennis is a fulltime job in Divisions I and II. In Division III, academics come first. “

All coaches on the panel agreed high school athletes making the transition to college need to learn how to find balance in their lives. Organizational skills and learning to live away from home are big adjustments.

Questions included: What is the recruiting process to identify players? All agreed they look at a combination of USTA rankings, UTR ratings and TennisRecruiting ‘s star system.  However, there are additional factors.

Jensen said  her NAIA program in San Diego can offer scholarships and it is typically for those suited to those seeking a smaller private school. “We are looking for that unique individual who has tennis skills plus the right personality to make it a perfect fit,” Jensen said.

Jones, the San Diego City College Women’s Coach, suggested Community Colleges are great options for many student-athletes. “It’s the perfect time for recent graduates to grow as individuals and players in lower pressure atmosphere.”

Segura is the Assistant Director of Adult Tennis at the Southern California Tennis Association. She said TOC is a step down from NCAA varsity tennis yet a step up from recreational club tennis. They are student run programs that are lively and social. Practices are held during the week and players participate when it works into their schedules.

Another angle of preparing for college tennis includes fitness, which is an area of specialty for Andrea Tyndall, a strength and conditioning coach based in San Diego. She has worked with other high profile programs such as Tennis Australia.

“If tennis is your toolbox, fitness is a massive part of your program,” Tyndall said. “If you can’t get to a ball it doesn’t matter how good you are.”

Other tips came in the form of how to contact coaches, when players can expect responses, questions to ask coaches, and  the importance of creating players’ resumes. One reality changer included player behavior off the court.

“I’m looking for good character,” Bonfiglio said. “A tennis team is a culture. We are looking for players who really like tennis. I know that sounds silly but it’s not always the case. Some players have a long list of accomplishments but there are over the process by the time they get to college. We want players who will take it upon themselves to get better. That reveals a high level of character.”





]]> 0
Sip N Serve Returns To Westside Sat, 11 Nov 2017 19:59:33 +0000 Read more »]]> After a successful run in Santa Monica last month, Sip ‘N Serve is back to the Westside with another series for millennial tennis players in Marina del Rey.

Sip ‘N Serve is a non-competitive tennis program that encourages networking and fun tennis. The series is open to anyone and everyone who loves tennis or is looking to learn how to play.

Some programs are geared more heavily toward match-play and some are structured like an adult clinic with drills and games. No matter the format, after tennis the group heads to a local bar for more socializing.

The Marina del Rey series runs like a high-energy tennis class with music and group games. SNS: MDR will take place Thursday nights at Marina City Club (4333 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292) November 2nd through December 7th. The cost is $25 per session for non-members and $80 for the full series. After the tennis each night, players are invited for drinks and grub at the MCC restaurant.

The Sip ‘N Serve Series is USTA Southern California’s take on a nationwide initiative to engage young adults in tennis. No USTA membership is required to participate and all levels are welcome.

Keep up to date on all of the Sip ‘N Serve happenings around Southern California on Facebook and on the program website. Contact Madeline Segura for any additional information on USTA Southern California’s young adult initiatives.

]]> 2
College: Sanchez brings tennis back to Marymount Wed, 08 Nov 2017 21:53:20 +0000 Read more »]]> On the campus of Marymount California University, at the peak of a hillside overlooking the Pacific with Catalina Island imposing off the coast, four newly surfaced tennis courts sit in waiting. In less than a year, the courts will gladly welcome back groundstrokes, service aces, and overhead lobs for the first time in over a decade. Mariner Tennis is returning to Rancho Palos Verdes, and head coach Jamie Sanchez is hard at work building a Men’s and Women’s tennis program scheduled to play its first collegiate matches late in 2018.

Marymount has grown substantially since ending its tennis program in 2006. Enrollment has doubled, with about 1500 students from more than 20 states and 20 countries, and with a multi-tiered campus of classrooms and apartments both atop the hill and along the waterfront. With its pristine surroundings, Marymount aims to increase the daily activity of its student body, and the resurgence of athletics is a substantial move in that direction.

With soccer, baseball, cross country, and golf programs firmly in place, Marymount will look to volleyball, lacrosse, and tennis as the next wave of opportunity for scholar-athletes. Having evolved from a two-year college program to a four-year university, athletes seeking a bachelor’s degree can now consider Marymount as an ideal venue to remain competitive in sports while gaining a high quality education.

For Sanchez, the process is long and arduous. A longtime tennis coach and administrator with Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, Sanchez has no trouble selling his love for the sport. But a brand new program at a small, discreet university may well be his biggest challenge.

“I have experience doing this sort of thing,” says Sanchez, who started Loyola Marymount’s women’s program in the 1970s and logged 40 years at the helm, including 21 years in the dual role as Men’s/Women’s head coach. In the first year at Marymount – what he calls the first of three “stages” in developing a new program – Sanchez firmly believes the Mariners “could be winning our conference. The recruits who write back to me ask that question. We’re going to compete to win (in the first year), to win our conference.”

The tennis program would play under the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) umbrella, an alternative to NCAA competition which includes schools like Westmont College and Hope International University. Competing within NAIA paves the road for a diverse spectrum of players, from polished competitors to developing talent.

“The larger schools (like UCLA or USC) naturally target a certain level of player,” says Sanchez. “A program like ours affords many opportunities for players of all skill levels. There are so many players in Southern California who don’t achieve the high level they could, because they don’t have the opportunity. This is the opportunity.”

Sanchez will spend the bulk of early 2018 reaching out to schools, parents, and students who would be ideal for the Marymount program. Junior college athletes, players in need of guidance and development, and high school tennis programs are on his immediate radar, with hopes of introducing Marymount California University to athletes who will inaugurate the school’s modern foray into competitive collegiate tennis.

“I want players who love the game, and who want to improve competitively,” Sanchez says. “I have no hesitation showing them how to win, but players are the ingredients.”

Of course, Sanchez’s new role also marks his return to on-coaching, and he’s clearly motivated by the challenge and looking forward to next fall.

“I’ve missed it,” he says of coaching. “Once you do it and love it for so long, the reward is intangible. Awards and results, they are tangible. But the experience is intangible.”

Learn more at

]]> 0
SoCal Athletes to Rep U.S. at Global Collegiate Tourney Tue, 31 Oct 2017 16:51:18 +0000 Read more »]]> SHIBAHARA, HOLT, REDLICKI TO HELP LEAD U.S. IN 2017


 Americans Look to Win Seventh Straight Master’U Title

November 30-December 3 in Marcq-en-Baroeul, France


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., October 30 2017 – The USTA today announced the top American collegians selected to represent the U.S. in the annual Master’U BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team Competition November 30-December 3 in Marcq-en-Baroeul, France.

Competing for the U.S. are: Ena Shibahara (Soph., UCLA; Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.), the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s No. 1-ranked women’s singles player; Ashley Lahey (Soph., Pepperdine; Hawthorne, Calif.), the ITA’s No. 3-ranked women’s singles player; Alle Sanford (Fr., UNC; Westerville, Ohio), women’s singles champion at this fall’s Oracle ITA Masters event; Brandon Holt (Soph., USC; Rolling Hills, Calif.), the ITA’s No. 11-ranked men’s singles player and 2017 Oracle ITA Masters men’s singles champion; Alfredo Perez (Jr., Florida; Miami), the ITA’s No. 7-ranked men’s singles player; and Martin Redlicki (Sr., UCLA; Chicago), a 2017 ITA Men’s All-American Championships singles finalist.

Boise State men’s coach Greg Patton and Ohio State women’s coach Melissa Schaub will travel with and coach the team, which will compete against teams from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Russia. Last year, Shibahara was a part of the U.S. contingent that won its sixth straight Master’U title and seventh in the last eight years. Past U.S. representatives in the Master’U competition include Steve Johnson, Irina Falconi, Austin Krajicek, Maria Sanchez, Mackenzie McDonald, Danielle Collins and Chris Eubanks.

“Master’U is the Davis Cup and Fed Cup of college tennis, and we are excited to have another strong group of student-athletes and coaches to represent Team USA,” said USTA Collegiate Tennis Director Stephen Amritraj. “Being part of Team USA has evolved into a rite of passage for the best American collegiate players, along with the goals of winning an NCAA team and individual title.”

Each team match consists of two men’s and two women’s singles matches, one women’s and one men’s doubles match and a mixed doubles match. Complete results from all three days can be found by visiting the Master’U BNP Paribas website.

]]> 0
Azusa Pacific’s Oliver Frank notches upset at SoCal Intercollegiates Mon, 30 Oct 2017 22:27:22 +0000 Read more »]]>

Finalists Oliver Frank (APU) and Brandon Holt (USC) at the SoCal Intercollegiate Championships.

After an entertaining weekend of Men’s singles action at the 2017 SoCal Intercollegiate Championships, Monday’s finale featured a perennial NCAA Division I favorite and an underdog from Division II Azusa Pacific University (APU).

The unique format provided such an opportunity for APU’s Oliver Frank, the 6’1” native of Germany who holds the Cougar’s all-time record for combined winning percentage in singles and doubles (46-4, .920). In this week’s event at Marks Stadium at USC, the unseeded Frank notched main draw wins over three seeded opponents – all of them USC Trojans, including #2 Laurens Verboven. In the final, he faced another Trojan, the top seed Brandon Holt.

Holt, a sophomore from Palos Verdes, is a familiar name in collegiate tennis. He ranks in the top 20 nationwide both in singles and tandem play, was an All Pac-12 First Team selection in his second year, and is widely regarded as an exceptional talent headed to the professional ranks.

Still, the day belonged to Frank, a straight set victor in the championship finale. Both players held serve early, focused on fundamentals and methodic play. The big, muscular Frank punished the ball with heavy groundstrokes while Holt moved fluidly and seemed unfazed by his opponent’s command of both the baseline and the net.

The first dent in armor came at 4-3 in the first set, when Holt committed a double fault to give his opponent two critical game points. Frank prevailed for a 5-3 lead, and combined the finesse of drop shots and a powerful forehand winner to tally the first set, 6-3.

In the second frame, Holt came out strong and looked to regain momentum with an easy hold. The two would remain on course until Frank broke the Trojan serve for a 3-2 lead. But Holt, his team’s primary number one player, was quick to answer. At break point, Frank ripped a ball off the net cord, leaving an easy winner in Holt’s wheelhouse, at the set was even at 3-3.

Holt pushed even harder on his next service game, running Frank side to side, stroking winners into the open court and adding pace to his service game. At 4-3, Holt looked poised to force a third set.

Frank thought otherwise, holding serve at 4-4 and then breaking Holt for a 5-4 advantage. By the tenth and decisive game of the second set, Frank continued to pound away at groundstrokes, surging to victory with a powerful forehand that sealed the win, 6-3, 6-4.

The All-USC doubles final at the SoCal Intercollegiate Championships.

“I knew it would be faster than D2,” said Frank of the challenge facing and ultimately dispatching upper echelon opponents. “(Holt) is a great player in Division I and in California. I like to play those opponents, when I’m the underdog. I play way more loose. I knew I needed to move better and be more focused. If I lose focus, I lose momentum.”

Concurrently on an adjoining court, four Trojans battled for the doubles title in an all-USC final. Laurens Verboven & Tanner Smith earned a convincing 8-3 win over teammates Jake DeVine & Logan Smith.

“We just know each other’s games really well,” Tanner Smith said after the match, complimenting his USC Trojan squad. “We had three of the four finalists (today), everyone’s playing well, and we’re seeing great results.”


The Trojans move next to Indian Wells for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. Oliver Frank and Azusa Pacific return to action in the new year, facing CalTech in February.

]]> 0
What A College Athlete Eats For Peak Performance Wed, 11 Oct 2017 00:07:01 +0000 Read more »]]> By Lucas Chmielewski

It’s anything but junk food and empty calories for college athletes looking to perform at their peak.

Today’s ultra-competitive college environment requires banking every advantage you can get, and a nutritional diet in combination with a fitness regime is essential to generating the best results.

Now imagine being a competitive junior tennis player newly arrived at college, endlessly tempted by late-night dorm and party food, but with the added challenge of having Crohns Disease, requiring you to eat small healthy portions every few hours, while altogether avoiding so many foods that are not healthy to consume. Welcome to the world of college athlete Lucas Chmielewski!

Formerly a top-ranked player at La Canada High School and now a freshman at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, CA, Lucas has been playing tennis since the age of four, training locally with long-time coach Tomas Bubilek at iTennis Arroyo Seco Racquet Club. During his junior playing career, Lucas was fortunate to travel and compete throughout the U.S. and internationally, gaining a well-rounded perspective on dietary habits and options from around the world to manage his condition. “It’s really enlightening to see how food is purchased and prepared in countries other than the USA” Lucas says. “There’s so much more availability to fresh produce and non-processed foods which are much healthier for athletes, and in turn can result in better performance”.

Balancing his Chrons Disease with a tennis player’s elevated need for proper nutrition and high energy, Lucas regularly follows a strict diet regimen that includes lots of simple proteins like chicken, fish or pork, carbs in the form of rice or potatoes, and always a portion of veggies for essential vitamins. He specifically avoids consuming beef, eggs, gluten and dairy because of headaches, tiredness and overall sense of heaviness on court.

Before a workout or match Lucas typically eats a light meal, usually a small portion of chicken and rice. Meals cannot be heavy because they take too long to digest and decrease speed or reaction time. During a match Lucas consumes Gatorade gels, bananas and nut bars with dark chocolate, the latter providing a much-needed dose of replenishing sugar to maintain energy levels. Following or in between matches, Lucas would repeat the same menu as above as part of his program for nutritional restoration and recovery.

The bottom line? If you want to compete as a tennis player in the college ranks you’ll need every advantage you can get, avoiding all those collegiate temptations and focusing daily on a healthy regimen that pays dividends. Fuel for the body, as well as the mind, is an essential component to on-court success, and Lucas Chmielewski follows best practices on all fronts to compete at his peak!

]]> 0
World University Games a Special Trip For Coach Chen Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:30:53 +0000 Read more »]]> Community Spotlight: Grant Chen

Being a part of Team USA this summer and coaching at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan, had extra special meaning for current UCLA associate head men’s coach Grant Chen.

Chen traveled with four UCLA players – Logan Staggs, Martin Redlicki, Terri Fleming and Jada Hart – and the Bruins represented the United States admirably, with Staggs and Hart taking home the bronze medal after falling in the semifinals to Slovakia, 10-7, in a super tiebreaker after splitting sets. Staggs and Redlicki advance to the Round of 16 in singles and doubles and Fleming and Hart won two rounds in singles.

Grant Chen, centered, coached UCLA’s Jada Hart and Logan Staggs to the mixed doubles bronze medal.

“I was very proud of how our players represented themselves and country—on and off the court,” Chen said. “While tennis was why we were there, the trip also gave them an opportunity to experience a different culture.”

It was also meaningful for Chen, whose family is from Taiwan, it represented a home away from home.

“It was very special for me because I have family in Taiwan,” Chen said. “My mom came out to practice the first day and I had dinner with my cousins. My uncle is a physician and was in charge of the sports medicine for the entire 20-sport event.”

The World University Games are held every two years and are a mini version of the Olympic Games. Chen said experiencing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies were the highlights, as each of the countries marched into the stadium in front of 40,000 or so fans.

“When the guys and girls weren’t playing they watched table tennis, basketball, baseball and softball,” Chen said. “We stayed in the Athlete’s Village and were roommates in the dorms with other athletes. The athlete dining area was the size of two football fields and you got to dine with other countries and other athletes who have excelled in their sport. So that was pretty fun.”

Chen is a familiar face to UCLA tennis fans as he has been associated with the program now going on 17 seasons having entered the program as a freshman in 2000. In fact, Chen has attended the NCAA Championships all 17 season’s he’s been a part of the program. As the student manager as a senior in 2005, the Bruins won their first NCAA team title under longtime Coach Billy Martin. Elevated to assistant coach by Martin five seasons ago, Chen watched as the Bruins fell to the University of Virginia after holding championship points in his first season as an assistant.

“I had no intention of coaching college tennis,” Chen said. “But Billy took me under his wing as a mentor, and we’ve maintained a friendship and working relationship that we hope and think is helping these student-athletes grow as players and men.”

Chen has helped coached two Bruins to NCAA national singles titles the past few years in Marcos Giron and Mackie McDonald. “I’ve been very lucky to work with some tremendous student athletes at UCLA. Former players who are now competing for Grand Slams and many from our own backyard of Southern California,” Chen said. “To be able to be a part of this tennis journey with these players and helping them reach their dream of playing collegiate and eventually professional tennis has been very rewarding for me.”

The Bruins finished No. 5 in the nation last season and are loaded up once again this year, including four incoming freshman from SoCal. “I am a product of So Cal tennis having grown up in Santa Barbara. We’ve been able to keep a lot of the SCTA kids close to home,” he said. “It’s been great to recruit in our own back yard.”

Chen called the two weeks at the World University Games, held every two years , an “unbelievable experience and one of the most amazing multi-sport events I’ve ever been a part of.

“It’s something the athletes will remember forever.”

As will Chen.

]]> 0