Emma Murphy.

Emma is an all round athlete who happened to concentrate on tennis, she could have had scholarships in both running and soccer.  Her hard work and dedication to the game moved her through the ranks very quickly and moved her to the top of ladies tennis here in Ireland.
Emma's article will give you an insight into college tennis in America and how hard work pays off.

Tennis in the USA

Imagine waking up every morning, winter, spring or fall and seeing the sun splitting the stones. As tennis players when the sun is shining all we want to do is grab our rackets and grind in the warmth of the sun. This was my feeling every day when I lived and trained in San Diego, California.
I first arrived in San Diego when I was 18 on a scholarship for 4 years.
The value of my scholarship was worth $50,000 a year, that would be considered a good salary for a working man here in Ireland. 

College Tennis was the best experience. When you are an athlete in college in America you are treated like royalty, anything you want you get. If you have so much as a little hole in your new adidas barricades there will be a brand new pair waiting for you at practice the next morning.
If you have a niggle in your left finger, you will be sent to the training room (the physio) and they will look after you. You are treated like a professional athlete and therefore you start to think and act like one. 

When I first arrived I was in shock at how I was being looked after so well. If I was having difficulty in class, there were private tutors available for me. If I had any sort of problem with anything it would be solved right away.

College tennis involves competition, friendship and hard work. You are working hard every day, training around 2hrs every day, followed by a gym session. But it’s not quite as gruelling as it seems as you have your friends nearby to spur you on.

The best part of my experience as a player, were the matches. You play 1 singles match and 1 doubles match. My natural competitiveness, helped me out a lot, I rarely lost.
I became known as 'the fighting Viking'. I was not necessarily the best tennis player in college but I had the fight and the guts to earn me the ranking of number 15 in college tennis. Not bad considering there are over 3,000 division 1 tennis players. 

My greatest achievement as a college player was reviving 'west coast conference player of the year' meaning I was picked as the best player in California 2 years in a row.

Great Irish players have gone to America before hoping for success but failing. The reason for this I think is the change of surface. Here in Ireland we play on the omni. Its fast, the ball stays low and the rallies are 3, 4 shot rallies. On the contrary in America, you play on hard court. Hard court is slow, ball bounces up and rallies are usually between 10 and 20 shots.
Basically it requires working the point, being fitter and more patient. I loved hard court because I was willing to stay out there and grind in the heat until I wore my opponent down!! That’s what we lack here in Ireland, patience and working the point!!

After college I played professional for a year, I travelled around the States earning ranking points getting me into some good tournaments. The highlight of my pro career was winning a wild card tournament to play in the $100,000 Acura Classic in San Diego. I lost in the first round to the 78th ranked player in the world 7\5, 7\5.

Of course playing Fed Cup for Ireland was a great experience, we won our group much to the delight of our captain Gary Cahill!

This summer I coached one of the best junior players in America. She was ranked number 4 in the u 18's in USA. I travelled with her to all the junior tournaments and the junior grand slams. It was a fantastic experience. Getting to mingle with the who's who of tennis was a treat!!

There is so much more to my experience in America, people I met along the way, friends I made and the wealth of knowledge I gained about the tennis world but I cant fit it all in!! But for any tennis player, who loves the sport and has the chance to play college tennis, go for it!! It is an amazing experience.