***Aws Laaribi is a Tunisian-Canadian Junior tennis player born in Québec City, Canada in 1994. He has since lived in Tunisia and New York. In September 2010, he moved to Burlington, Ontario to train at ACE Tennis, an academy run by Pierre Lamarche. Winning three ITF doubles titles and one single ITF title as well as finishing 3rd place at the U18 Canadian Outdoor Nationals, Aws has been able to become as high as #4 in Canada U18 and as high as #199 in ITF juniors. After three years at the ACE Tennis Academy, he fulfilled his objective of receiving a scholarship at Wake Forest University, starting in August 2013.***
Congratulations on your scholarship to Wake Forest! Are you happy with your decision?
Thank you very much! Yes, I am very happy with the decision and am looking forward to being a Demon Deacon this upcoming fall.
What were the steps you took to make it a reality?
The college process was a long and quite stressful one for me personally. I started communicating with schools at the beginning of grade 11 (Junior Year). If the coach is interested in you, they typically will come to one of your tournaments and watch you play. Apart from the tennis, the academics play an important role in the process as well. Many Americans as well as Canadians have to take what is called the SAT’s, a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. Certain schools accept certain scores of SAT’s according to the academic level of that school. Within the Canadian schools’ academic calendar there is no preparation for the SAT test, this is another major detail which ACE Academy has helped tremendously with in terms of preparation.
What was the most difficult challenge you faced throughout the process of acquiring a tennis scholarship?
Acquiring a good scholarship isn’t very easy these days especially with the increasing level of competition in college tennis and getting to that level. With more highly ranked international players choosing the path of college tennis, the availability of scholarships has decreased. Luckily, I had received a great offer from Wake Forest.
What made you choose Wake Forest?
The Universities’ tennis program is currently ranked #19 in the country and the school is nationally ranked top 25 in academics; making Wake Forest the ideal choice. When I went on an official visit in mid-November 2012, what hit me first was the friendly and welcoming environment of the school, especially from the tennis players and the coaching staff. I prefer smaller schools where students receive more individual attention just like at ACE, which is why Wake Forest was also a great choice.
Did you have any help along the way?
Of course, I couldn’t have done this without the help and support from ACE Tennis and my parents. Since joining ACE in 2010, I have made a big jump in my tennis career where I was able to make it top 5 in Canada for 18 & Under, as well as cracking it in the top 200 in the world juniors ranking.
What do you plan on studying at university?
I plan on studying Business at Wake Forest.
Do you have any advice for players who are looking to follow a similar path?
I would suggest that all junior players looking to play college tennis should start the process as early as grade 10. In other words, start emailing coaches about your interest in joining their team and start working on your SATs. It is important to start the college process early because it will open up more options in the future.
What do you know about the Wake Forest Tennis Team?
During the official visit, I met with all the players as well as the coaches. They all seemed nice and cool to be around with. Looking at their results in this year’s season, the Wake Forest Men’s Tennis team has tremendously improved, jumping from #69 to #19 in the ITA rankings, which shows that they are a very hard working team. Indeed, Wake Forest Men’s Tennis is the most improved team of Division I in 2013; its Head Coach was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year, and three players were named to the All-ACC Team.
How do you think your game will match up in college tennis? Do you feel confident about how you will perform down south?
As most of you know, the level of tennis in Division I is getting tougher and tougher by the year, especially the schools down south. I believe that my tennis and fitness level have improved in the last couple of months spent at ACE and with more tournament play this summer, I feel confident going in as a freshman and competing against the top college players of the country.
How have you prepared over the last few years to be ready to handle the heavy demands of being a student/athlete for a division 1 team?
Over the last three years at ACE Tennis Academy, I have been training two hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon as well as attending school during the day. Playing in the tennis academy involved participating in national and international tournaments. One of the great aspects of playing tennis internationally is the opportunity to meet new people. I have traveled to South Africa, Egypt, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and many other countries, and in the process made friends from all over the world. It has particularly taught me how to be more independent and more disciplined throughout the years. I believe that this will be a great preparation in handling the heavy demands of being a student/athlete for a division I team.
If you would like to learn more about Aws and his tennis journey, please follow him on his website www.awslaaribi.com.