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The huddle

November 24, 2015

Half Time Talk: Memphis Tennis Alumn Marjorie Ondeck

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Marjorie Ondeck, former Memphis Tennis standout, gave great insight about college tennis and the recruiting process from the standpoint of someone who had a very successful four years in NCAA athletics. 

Thanks for taking the time to interview with us! Can you tell us a little bit about where you went to college and what sport you played?

Thank you for interviewing me! It’s my pleasure. I went to college at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee and played Women’s Tennis all four years on a full scholarship.

If you did the recruiting process all over again, do you think you would have played at the same place?

If it was my first year, probably not. But as for my last three years, yes. We received a new head coach at the end of my freshman year, I was thinking about transferring and I decided to stay. I loved the university, the team, and the student-athlete atmosphere but the training regimen and level wasn’t where I had expected. I didn’t want to leave, so I was fortunate enough my assistant coach became my head coach. He and I got along very well and he wanted to take the program to be a top program in the country. I changed my mind to transfer and stayed to be a part of the process of turning the program around.

Was your college coach what you expected him or her to be based on your interactions with them in the recruiting process?

In some ways yes, and some ways no. In many ways, the Memphis and the coaching staff was what I expected but I didn’t fully understand until I had gotten to college and practiced with the team and spent time with them. Also in seeing what some of my friends and peers had at other colleges while I was at Memphis, I soon realized that things were much different than what I would have liked.

Would Locker Room Talk have helped you as a recruit in high school?

Locker Room Talk would have definitely helped my search for a college in high school. I think that when you go on recruiting trips interacting with the team, coaching staff, and college, there is only so much you can see. It is not until you’re with them day in and day out at the university, that you experience it firsthand. And when you’re a student-athlete, the sport and coaching plays a critical role in your college experience. You could completely love the college but if you don’t get along with a coach or regime the team has, it could make or break if you stay, transfer, or just quit the sport. If you could find out more information about the coach, good and bad, and even the intensity of the team such as practicing and game schedules, it could inform you much more on what you are looking for. I think there are great coaches out there that could have some qualities that you don’t like or vise versa. When you’re a prospective student-athlete, you need to realize that you will be spending a lot of time with your team and coaches. Also depending what level you will be playing at it could vary, but you will still be spending quite a lot of time with them. If you could find out the pros and cons of each coach, it could be that much more beneficial to you. Even if the cons of the coach to some former athletes might be cons, it could be pros for yourself. Everyone is different, so informing future student athletes of the coach with pros and cons, could help anyone in making their college experience that much better by just choosing between 2 schools they are deciding about.

What advice do you personally have for high school tennis players looking to play in college?

It all depends on what level you want to play at, so first I would figure out level of play and the level of academics. Then pick what parts of the country you also want. As for coaching, I would look for a coach that is going to build you as a player on and off the court. I was fortunate enough to have a coach my last 3 years that ingrained core values into our team that I will have for the rest of my life. When I came to college I thought it was all about doing well in tennis and getting good grades, which you definitely want to do. But it’s more about your character, hard work, and privilege mentality that you have in all of that, which takes you farther in life. I would look for a coach who really tries to instill more core values on top of the tennis and academics. Also play as many junior tournaments as you can. Depending the level of tennis you want to play at, it will depend the types of tournaments you will play. Most coaches look at your USTA or ITF ranking, so focus on doing the best you can at those tournaments and getting as much exposure to college coaches as you can through rankings and playing tournaments where they will be at.

We try to finish most interviews with a funny question, so if you were stranded on an island with someone who would it be and why?

It would be Mother Theresa. I started a book about her recently and to me she is one of the most selfless loving people of our time. I would love to pick her brain on all topics of life. And I think how she lived her life could be used as an example in any area of life, even sports. Just by being a selfless teammate when you are out on the field or court, doing your absolute best through hard work.

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Image courtesy of: Weil Tennis Academy

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