American Millie Nichols: I would recommend to study and play tennis in the USAl4tAdmin
The tennis player Millie Nichols is from Austin, Texas, USA and she was born in Amarillo city. She was practicing in the LOVE 4 TENNIS Academy in the summer so we interviewed her about her tennis career, university studies, scholarship, tournaments and much more. If you are hesitating to play and study in the USA, Millie Nichols has a piece of advice for you…
How do you feel in Slovakia and how did you get here?
“My teammate Monika Sirilova is from Bratislava, we developed a relationship and she is now my good friend. I came here to visit her; I am staying at her apartment. It‘s my first time in Europe. I like it here a lot, it’s a different culture, and everything is different.”
What exactly is different?
“The food, the atmosphere, the environment, the people, just different mentality. For example, the food is much better. I had goulash the other day (smile)… It’s been great so far.”
Where did you study in the USA?
“Texas Christian University, TCU. It’s a small private school, great academics, with a good tennis programme. I studied kinesiology with the emphasis in health and fitness. It was hard but I’ve learned a lot. Before that, I started to study at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), and then I transferred to TCU after my freshman year. I chose TCU because my two siblings, brother and sister, were there and I decided to follow their footsteps. And it’s closer to my family.”
Tell us more about your school, scholarship and so on…
“You have there zero or 100% scholarship. I had a full ride. My education, my books, dorm, for everything was paid for. It was based primarily on my tennis. My academics were good enough to get in without the problem.”
Your typical day at the university…
“You wake up in the morning, you have workout, then you’ve got a class or practice. In the afternoon you have practice again, after that you may have another workout. Some kids may have to go to the study hall, the school requires to sit there and study for certain number of hours for a week, typically freshmen have to do it.”
What is the level of the coaches, are they good?
“The top 10 universities in the country usually have pretty good coaches. Majority of them generally are ok. They know something about tennis. My coach at TCU, he was a great coach. He had great results. But during my last year, he was removed because of personal problems and a new coach is doing a great job so far.”
You have graduated, but what are your next plans? Playing on the ITF level?
“In a perfect world I would like to go and play. But I don’t know yet, first I will come back to the USA and then I will see. I have no idea. I’m studying to become a certified fitness coach. After that, I will probably become a tennis fitness trainer. Preferably for athletes, I don’t care about their age if they want to become the better athletes.”
Is it complicated to play and study?
“It’s very tiring to balance school and tennis. It can be pretty hard because you train physically and mentally, then you have to force yourself to be disciplined enough to understand your studies, it can get tiring.”
How many tournaments do you play in one tennis season?
“In the fall, we played five tournaments. It’s for individual results, singles and doubles. And in spring it’s about the team. You have 25 duel matches, and depending on how well you do, as a team and as an individual, you go to the NCAA tournaments and play until you are out.”
Is it possible, right after the university studies, to be on the top ATP or WTA level? There are very few players who achieved that like John Isner…
“You have also Steve Johnson, but I can’t think of any girls who are in the Top 100. It’s a hard transition, you don’t see a lot of players coming out of the university and playing on the Tour to be successful. A lot of friends of mine have played but their tennis didn’t improve enough.”
What is the best thing about playing and studying at the university?
“You learn a lot of life skills. You learn to manage your time, you have to grow up faster. You have to be disciplined. It’s a great opportunity to play and to do studies; tennis gives you the opportunity to get an education. For me, it was free. So it’s great, too.”
Are there any more Slovaks there besides Monika Sirilova?
“Yes, Simona Parajova, Lucia Kovalova, but we have more players from Russia, Romania and a lot of players from South America.”
Are players from Slovakia different than the other ones?
“Their mentality is much different than American. They are more hardworking, they do well in school, they do what they were told, and they get the things done. They don’t complain. We, Americans, we are lazy, we take a lot of things for granted.”
Have you ever played on the ITF level?
“Maybe three tournaments. I couldn’t do it financially. I played some tournaments in Texas, 10Ks. My parents have four other kids to care about. Three of us played tennis at the university, two of us just for fun.”
How do you like the LOVE 4 TENNIS club?
“It’s very a nice club, I’ve never seen bowling alley in the restaurant connected to tennis courts. I’ve never played on red clay before. We Americans play on hard courts. I like to play on clay but I’m not good at it. Clay courts are mainly in Florida.”
Is tennis popular in Texas?
“In Texas, tennis is getting more popular. Children are playing, we have several academies, and it’s getting more popular and growing.”
Will you recommend to Slovak players to come to the USA to study and play tennis?
“I would recommend it if they know somebody who is from the US. He or she can tell them more about the schools and coaches. It’s a really fun experience. They can make a lot of new friends, experience a lot of different things.”