The Auburn men's tennis program became a little more 'professional' this summer with the hiring of new head coach Bobby Reynolds. Reynolds professional background is impressive — 12 years, reaching a world ranking of No. 63 in singles and No. 46 in doubles. But it's his experience playing on a team he wants to share most.
"Tennis is always such an individual sport, but, in college, you can play, travel, and work as a team. It's the best four years of your life," Reynolds said..
One may expect Reynolds' pro experience to influence the Auburn players to leave campus early and test out the pro circuit. So many players turn 'pro' by the age of 17, but is that really the key to success as a tennis player?
For Reynolds, the most decorated player in Vanderbilt University history, he describes time in college as some of the best memories of his life.
That's the coach's philosophy. Reynolds believes college allows student-athletes to mature, and, if an athlete is in the right program, they will continue building their game. College is a perfect stepping stone, the coach explained.
If a player graduates, then attempts to play professionally, and for whatever reason does not make a long career of it, they ultimately still have a degree on which to fall back. But the average touring age appears to be increasing — college players are staying in school longer.
With that in mind, Reynolds knows one or two of his three seniors may look to go pro after college, but he's been working with them to stay focused on the year ahead and the match in front of them rather than what comes after this season is completed.
"I want these guys to be fired up and enjoy it. It goes so fast; it's a blast," Reynolds said.
To begin the fall, the Tigers head to Cary, North Carolina September 18 to compete in the Duke Bonk Invitational. One thing is for certain, however: Reynolds will not be discussing future plans for his players, instead remaining focused on allowing his team, especially his seniors, to enjoy their time at Auburn.
"It's just a different aspect when you're playing for a team," Reynolds said. "Tennis is so much better when you're playing for something higher than yourself."
Photo Courtesy: Tigers Athletics