Written by: Dominique Harmath
***Dominique Harmath is a former Canadian Junior Champion who has always been at the top of her class in Canadian rankings. She is coached by Ben Armstrong and just finished her freshman year at Rice where she played primarily at #2, had a 15-8 record in singles and 14-9 record in doubles.***
US University and Tennis is my answer…
My decision between attending a university or playing on the professional circuit was not easy. I took the time to put things into perspective and to set my priorities straight. I contemplated what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and knew that I wanted it to involve tennis. Even so, I needed a backup plan if playing professionally did not work out or if I simply decided I wanted to do something else with my life. The option of attending a university with a scholarship looked like the perfect plan.
By enrolling in a university, I would be able to play just as much tennis and continue with my intense fitness and strengthening program. On top of that, I would receive an excellent education. With that education, I would have many more opportunities throughout my lifetime. After graduating from a university, I could become a professional tennis player, find a job, or go to graduate school. With these considerations, I chose Rice University in Houston, Texas, for its academics and top tennis program. I went into my freshman year at Rice believing that I would improve my tennis and grow intellectually. Thankfully, I was wrong; it was much more than that. I was able to experience the thrill of competing on a team in a traditionally individual sport. No feeling can compare to the one when you are playing the deciding match against another college and all of your teammates are cheering at the top of their lungs. You see them jump up and down with encouragement and exhilaration after you win a big point and you use that to win that next point. The intense energy that your coaches and teammates bring to the match creates a new kind of fight and drive inside of you, and when you win, you no longer win only for yourself, but you battle to win for the entire team. You strive for the moment when all of your teammates are racing towards you ready to embrace you with excitement.
Along with these incredible tennis experiences, I had many more off the tennis court. From parties to sporting events, to the epic annual Rice traditions, I had the time of my life last year. However, I still am intently focused on my tennis and have not given up all of my hopes of going pro. I learned how to manage my time wisely between tennis, studying, and socializing. I worked hard every day with my team and we pushed each other to reach our potentials. Then, after a tough day of training, we would hit the books to maintain one of the highest GPAs in our conference. If by the end of the week we felt we had done our jobs, we would relax for an evening before continuing the cycle.
Going to university is giving me the best of both worlds. Each summer, I will still have the opportunity to play professional tournaments before continuing my studies and the collegiate tennis season in the fall. I do not regret my decision at all. People call it the best four years of your life for a reason, and I simply did not want to miss it.