Friday, September 25, 2015

My American Collegiate Invitational Recap; Additional Comments from All Eight Men's Participants

My recap of the second annual American Collegiate Invitational is available now at the Tennis Recruiting Network. On Wednesday, I published photos of the eight women's participants along with quotes and updates on their schedules. Below you'll find the same information for the men, five of whom are still in school and three who have completed their eligibility.

Dennis Mkrtchian
Mkrtchian, 22, graduated from UCLA this summer after majoring in both International Development and Political Science, and is not currently considering professional tennis as a career. "I’m taking the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) next month and I’ve been studying pretty hard for it with the goal of obviously going to a good law school. I also have some post-graduate scholarships that I didn’t want to waste. Never say never, but as of right now, I’m not planning to play. Maybe I’ll play some tournaments before I go to law school, some Futures here and there in California, some Men’s Opens, just enjoy the sport, but my main goal is not pro tennis."

Winston Lin
The 22-year-old Lin graduated from Columbia this spring with a major in economics. He has been playing professionally this summer, and plans to continue to do so indefinitely. "I’ll keep playing until I reach my potential or stop getting better. It’s like anything, if you do it, just do it 100 percent. It’s been really different since graduating, because it’s been full time tennis, no school. There’s been a lot of adjustments I’ve had to make, I’m still learning a lot: how to handle myself playing every day, having this be my job, taking care of everything myself, because in college, the school does it for you, the coaches do it for you. Managing your own practice, your body, travel, everything that has to do with tennis, so there’s a lot to learn."

Jared Hiltzik
The senior at Illinois is taking the fall off to build his game on the pro circuit, and today he reached the semifinals of a $15,000 Futures in Canada with a three-set win over Lin.  Hiltzik said former Illinois star Kevin Anderson has had a major influence on him: "Kevin is an outstanding man. He’s given me a lot of advice. I talk to him as much as I can and he’s definitely an inspiration for me. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. So I’m striving to do that and be like him." Hiltzik said he is not concerned about a reaching a particular ranking while playing this fall.  "My goal is just to get better, I don’t have any number in mind. There’s definitely some things I need to improve on going into the [dual match] season and I definitely want those things to be accomplished. We had a team meeting and everybody’s shooting big for this year, so it should be exciting."

Quentin Monaghan
Monaghan, a senior at Notre Dame, is planning to play the All-Americans, Regionals and Indoor Intercollegiates this fall, perhaps adding a pro tournament as well. After graduating in the spring with degree in Management, he plans to play professional circuit.
“That’s always been my goal and dream. I just want to keep on getting better this year. I haven’t necessarily fully committed to going pro, but I don’t see what would prevent me, unless I’m seriously injured or something. My junior year in high school, I went to [JTCC] College Park, Maryland, trained there for two years, and that changed my mindset. Then going into school, I went with the approach I’m going to play pro tennis and get the most out of my time at Notre Dame."

Thai Kwiatkowski
The junior at Virginia, who is planning to play the ITA fall majors, was excited to return to New York for the ACI. "My goal here is to really showcase college tennis. Just to be at the Open again after playing juniors for many years is really special, I never thought I’d be back playing on these courts. Second of all, we’re here to help college tennis and make it more popular and I think we’re doing that. It’s really special that the USTA is doing this college event for us here."

Ryan Shane
Shane, who today reached the semifinals of the $10,000 Futures in California, didn't waiver on his decision to return to school for his senior year after winning the NCAA singles title back in May. "[Brian] Boland runs an amazing program there so going back another year, I feel I’ve just been getting better each year. I’ve been on an upward trajectory and one more year is not really hurting me too much. I’m playing professional events in the fall, so I can play those tournaments and still go to school. And one more fight with my team and hopefully a wild card to the US Open is still on the line, so I think it’s worth it to go back. DT(assistant coach Dustin Taylor) and Boland have been working to get me ready for the pros, so I think another year with them will really help me."

Gonzales Austin
Austin, 22, graduated from Vanderbilt last spring with a double major in economics and political science, but after during his time in Nashville, he decided he wanted to make a career out of tennis. "I don’t think of it as something to fall back on, because I’m very certain tennis is my career, in what ever facet that may be. My sophomore year I wasn’t that serious about pro tennis. I had taken an internship in Washington DC that summer and I didn’t play a lot of tennis. I came back and I realized it wasn’t really time for me to sit in an office yet—not that there’s anything wrong with that for some people. But tennis is something I’m really passionate about, I’ve been doing it all my life, so why not keep going and play? I’m never going to be 22 years old again so now’s the best time to do it."

Mackenzie McDonald
The junior at UCLA is currently playing Futures in California, where he reached the final last week, and will then compete in the Northern California Challengers. He is not entered in the All-American Championships and would need a wild card to play the Indoor Intercollegiates. "This summer I took a little bit of a mental break, it’s a long season in college and I’d been going for a while. I am in school, but I’m trying to play a lot of the pro events, as many as possible and stay in school, work with the team and Billy [Martin] and Grant [Chen]. I’m going day by day now, just wanting to play good tennis, doing the right things and just keep getting better."