Yuval Solomon is an incoming senior on Wake Forest's men's tennis team. He is a 2018 National Champion and currently is training in South Florida, anticipating a return on campus shortly.
Yuval was kind to answer some questions for me that I believe bring value to those out there coaching junior players or players themselves.
What misconceptions do you see juniors have about college tennis?
You know, I think some think that it gets easier once you get to college, but time management is really crucial. Moreover, for those that homeschooled this is no longer an option, you have to attend class and keep good grades in order to be eligible. You have to be very efficient with your time. At Wake Forest we practice more than what I did in juniors, so that was an adjustment as well. Most players believe they will have less practice time, but it is not the case.
What would you have done differently in juniors?
Play more futures. I would want to show coaches that I am not afraid to go out and compete at that level. With UTR being so popular these days, I would say it is essential to play strong events like money tournaments and entry level pro events.
What do you like the most about college tennis?
The team atmosphere is amazing, you have an automatic fan base that is with you every step of the way during the matches. The coaches on the sidelines are there for you and help you with a different perspective at times. In juniors you are all alone and it can be very tough sometimes.
How did you deal with the pressure of being a junior player?
I just knew I had to train a lot. For me, I needed to have long sessions with a lot of repetitions. My coaches showed me what my game really is and once I had that self- awareness I was able to improve my game incrementally. I was very self-aware and if I lost I knew what I needed to improve, and if I won I still looked for things to improve. I knew that coaches were looking at results, but I tried to just focus on every match and play my game.
What would be your advice to players that want to follow your footsteps?
Keep playing tournaments after commiting, that shows that you really want to compete and not just using tennis as a means to an end. In order to get recruited I emailed everyone I could. Get in touch with the coaches, show them why you would bring value to their team.
What character issues are detrimental in a player and how do you see the guys lose their spot?
Just being a bad teammate, being selfish and not willing to help out wherever necessary.
If a player doesn't show the support for the team if he is not playing, he does not bring value and ruins the relationships with his teammates. Everyone needs to do their part, do their job on any given day.
Additionally, when being recruited attitude and sportsmanship is extremely important. A talented but selfish player can ruin a team and coaches are very well aware of that.
When did you know that your work paid off?
When I commited to Wake Forest. I always had a goal to go to a great small school with the best tennis program. When we won NCAA's my freshman year I realized that I was so fortunate to have made this choice. All the hard times that I had in juniors going to tournaments, dealing with pressure for over 10 years, it all was worth it.