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Which College Tennis Stars Will Make it to the Big Time?
Saturday, 09/11/2021
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Trying to predict who will make it to the big time and who won’t make the cut is tough. You can take any of the greats, including Roger Federer, and argue about their progression. It only takes a small incident to throw young tennis stars off their game and put their futures in jeopardy.
Still, even with that in mind, it’s exciting to think that the next Grand Slam winner is currently in the US collegiate system. Who is he and why will he make it? That’s not easy to put a finger on, but we’ve made a good attempt by taking a look at all the latest on tennis matches and concluding the following players are in with the best opportunities.
Sam Riffice, University of Florida
Sam Riffice is the current NCAA Division 1 Men’s champion, which is why he is at the top of the list. At 22, the American has plenty of time left to develop on the college scene before he considers turning pro. Admittedly, the latter is already something that’s crossed his mind, but the fact Riffice has committed to the 2021-22 season is a sign of his maturity. So was Riffice’s journey to the 2021 final. Within seven days, the University of Florida player helped the Gators to beat Baylor, knocked out the number one and six seeds, and won the final in three sets. And he did it with little recovery time. Determination and mental strength are two must-haves in the pros, so they will hopefully take him far.
Liam Draxl, University of Kentucky
The Wildcats’ hopes will rest on the slight shoulders of a 19-year-old Canadian who propelled up the rankings when he beat former-number one, Daniel Cukierman, in three sets in February 2021. Since then, his game has gone from strength to strength, and he was deservedly the number one seed for the Division 1 Championship last May. We already know that Sam Riffice bested him on that occasion, yet you shouldn’t let it get in the way. After all, Riffice has a couple of years on Draxl from a progression perspective, so you can expect the Canadian to improve markedly. Don’t forget that Draxl has played on the ATP Tour already, beating Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev and receiving a wild-card to the Delray Beach Open. Draxl’s dad is an ex-college tennis player, too, so the Canadian has an excellent support staff guiding his career.
Daniel Cukierman, University of Southern California
At 26, Daniel Cukierman certainly isn’t jumping the gun as far as his professional career is concerned. Of course, you can view it as a plus point seeing as he has had the wherewithal to learn this craft on the college scene before making the leap to the pros. During his time at the University of Southern California, the Israeli has dominated the landscape and was ranked the number one seed for the entirety of 2020 and 2021, before Liam Draxl usurped him. An All-American, Cukierman’s record suggests he possesses all the skills necessary to break on to the ATP Tour. When he does leave college, he’ll have lots of experience to lean on, which is always healthy.
Anyone can jump the queue and realize their potential. Currently, though, the players on the list above have proved they are at the top of the college game.