Joan Cannon: My Pursuit of a Life-Long Dream

I have always dreamed of attending an Ivy League college and playing on its tennis team.

My entire life from age 13 onward has been focused on achieving this long-term goal. My parents and I moved to Burlington, at the start of Grade 9, so that I could train full-time at the ACE Academy. I competed in all the Selection, Provincial and National tournaments from that point on, as well as in any nearby ITF tournaments. However, I could never afford the time away from school to travel to international events, such as the Orange Bowl. Nevertheless, by Grade 10, I managed to establish myself in the top ten in Canada for my age group and began to focus more seriously on the academic prerequisites for an acceptance to an Ivy League college.

I started to attend the SAT preparation course once a week at the ACE Academy. I also began to take one online course during the academic year and another during the summer, so that I would be able to attend both of ACE’s morning and afternoon tennis training sessions. As result of these strategies, I was able to organize my time so that I could balance both my school and tennis schedules. The process was aided by my supportive parents, understanding coaches, and flexible teachers. I ensured that my parents, coaches and teachers all understood my long-term goal, so that we were all working toward the same objective.

By the end of Grade 10, I had maintained my national tennis ranking and achieved outstanding school grades. During Grade 11, I wrote the SAT I test –mandatory for admission to a U.S. university – and three separate SAT II Subject tests – required for those applying to Ivy League colleges. Fortunately, all my SAT grades were acceptable to the best Ivy League schools, so I did not have to re-write any of them. In anticipation of writing these SAT II Subject tests, I had rearranged the timing of my school courses. For example, I took Grade 11 Chemistry during Grade 10 and Grade 12 Chemistry during Grade 11, so that I could take the SAT II Chemistry test at the end of Grade 11.

In early Grade 11, I registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse and began to research the national undergraduate rankings, admission requirements, financial aid programs, and tennis teams and coaches of the various Ivy League schools. Based on this research, I narrowed my sights down to Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton. I e-mailed each of the coaches to introduce myself and indicate my interest in playing for their schools, sent my tennis video, school transcript, and tennis ranking history to them, and invited them to watch me play at tournaments in Canada. I was fortunate to motivate all these coaches to watch me compete during the summer after Grade 11. Once they had seen me play, they all invited me on official visits to their colleges during September and October of Grade 12. On these visits, I met the coaches and team members, toured the campus, stayed overnight in the dorms with a team member, met with academic counselors, and attended several classes and team practices. Each of the coaches committed to supporting my application to his/her college as a recruited athlete if I chose to apply. In exchange for this commitment, I had to agree to apply to only one school at a time. After consulting my parents, I decided to accept the Princeton coach’s invitation to attend Princeton and play on the Tigers tennis team. I chose Princeton over the other colleges because of the school’s overall atmosphere and college-town setting, my connection with the team and coaches, and Princeton’s outstanding reputation in the sciences – since I am considering environmental sciences as my undergraduate major. I sent my application to Princeton and received my most likely letter (academic acceptance for recruited athletes at Ivy League colleges) a couple of weeks later.

After four long years of commitment and hard work, it’s time simply to maintain my school grades and solidify my tennis game before I head off to college in September. Go Princeton Tigers!

A deeper dive into second serve statistics

The two most widely reported second serve statistics in professional tennis are the number of double faults a player hit, and their second serve winning percentage. If we’re trying to understand the effectiveness of a particular player’s second serve, relying only on those statistics has significant drawbacks. Article by Michal Kokta.

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