Tom O’Brien – Villanovia Men’s Tennis
Career: Tom earned All-BIG EAST accolades after finishing with a ’20-20′ season in 2013, ending with 20 wins in both singles and doubles play. He settled his career with records of 59-60 (.496) in singles and 81-51 (.614) in doubles. As a doubles player, went 51-36 in dual matches and 30-15 in tournaments … All but two of the doubles dual match victories have come at the No. 1 spot. Tom’s stats as a singles player was impressive, he finished 25-9 in tournaments and 34-51 in dual matches. Most of Tom’s dual match victories (30) have come at the top spot in the lineup, where he ended 34-51 during his career.
Often potential recruits might only have the opportunity to show off their skill-set one or two times for head coaches, which means it is go-time. One of the quotes that was drilled into my brain after my freshman year of high school was something I will never forget. The words were heard at a high school fundraiser dinner by Brian Cashman, the General Manager for the New York Yankees. As an all-boys high school, he was making the connection between performance both in the classroom and sports and the work-life. “Always put in your best efforts, you never know who is watching.” – Brian Cashman
From that night on, my father was relentless with repeating that statement. It did not click until the summer before my senior year of high school. I had played numerous tennis tournaments in the New England region in front of parents and independent coaches who had ties to numerous college teams.
In the beginning of the summer, I played in a college showcase to which coaches came to watch juniors from all over the of the country compete. As I had easier matchups, coaches were less interested in me at the time. The big tournaments of the summer were coming up and I would get a chance to showcase my talents on the big stage.
Before each match, even if not physically present, I would hear my fathers words, “you never know who is watching.” The national clay court championships was finally here with Junior Davis Cup following, and I was ready to go. Coaches from all over the country were there, and my first match at Clays put me on a center court against a player who was ranked top 75 in the country (I was around 250). I received a beating in the first set which only lasted about 30 minutes. Coaches walked away; parents walked away. Nerves were were settling in, but I had to remind myself that my future was on the line, and it wasn’t over.
While it was a struggle my mind would not allow me to lose, to my excited I came back in the second, one more set to go. As coaches passed by and saw that I was still alive with a win under my belt, the seats began to fill up. I ended up losing in the third set, but after the match, I had coaches writing my name on their clipboards.
After speaking with seval coaches, they all asked for the results. I told them the score, and although I lost, most of the coaches reiterated that they loved the fight that I had displayed and were impressed with the potential that I showed. Tennis coaches in the top 50 programs had my name, and were eagar to watch in my next match. My name was on the lips of some of the top DI coaches in the country, I could not have been happier.
As much as players think coaches do not collaborate on the side about recruits, that rumor is false. Therefore, You never know who is watching is the perfect mantra for any high school prospect. If you are losing, go down with a fight, if you are winning, go for gold but in a professional manner.
So whether it is the one match against a superior foe or inferior foe, remember, it is not only about the win or loss, it is also about the attitude displayed.
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