Senior Nick Andrews recently took time to answer questions about why he chose Cal, how he balances tennis with academics, rivalries in his tennis-playing family, where he sees himself in 10 years and much more.
USTA.com: This fall you took the title at the Napa Valley Tennis Classic, besting some of the top collegiate players as well as a number of top junior players. What was that experience like? Are you a fan of these combined events?
Nick Andrews: The event at Napa this year was incredible. The atmosphere and setup make it a very unique event, and it was definitely the highlight of our fall season. I especially liked how every player was housed by supporters of the event, as I was able to get to know some amazing people who made my experience even more memorable. The tournament was set up in a way that made the players feel very welcome and really allowed us to fully enjoy the Napa Valley experience.
I really like the way Napa is a combined event, with the top junior players competing against the top college players. I think it is very beneficial for the junior players to experience a college event, and it is very nice for the college players to test themselves against the best juniors. I was able to perform very well this year, and it was very exciting to take part in the shootout tiebreaker tournament. I was lucky enough to come up with the right shots at the right time, and this tournament turned out to be very memorable. I am very proud to have won it my senior year.
USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and for your team this season?
Nick Andrews: Our team goal this year is to make a run in the NCAA tournament. We lost to Tennessee 4-2 last year in the round of 16, and this year our goal is to outdo that. Last year, I finished in the ITA ranks, and my personal goals are to compete in both the singles and doubles NCAA Championships and also make a run for the title in each event.
USTA.com: What’s a normal day for you on campus – practice, class, strength and conditioning, fun, etc.?
Nick Andrews: A normal day for me on campus begins with class from around 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then tennis practice every day in the afternoons starting at 2:30. After practice, I will do homework and hang out with my teammates. We’re a very close team, and we all live within a block of one another. I love that we are such a close team. I think it can play a huge role in our team’s success and give us an extra edge when we get into close matches.
USTA.com: Cal is well-known for its academics. How do you balance tennis and your studies?
Nick Andrews: One of the reasons I chose Cal was for its highly regarded academics. It is difficult to balance the workload with the intense tennis schedule, but it is very doable if you put the work in. This means doing a lot of work on the road and putting in an extra hour of studying here and there, whenever I have the chance.
USTA.com: As a senior, you’ve played on the road a lot. What’s the toughest venue to play?
Nick Andrews: I enjoy traveling, and I don’t find it more difficult to play in one place than the next. However, if a school has a big crowd cheering against you, it always makes the match a bit more difficult, as well as satisfying if you can get the win. We already had a very tough match on the road this year when we played at Tulsa. The fans there were really loud and very vocal. These types of situations are what make college tennis great, though, because when you are playing at home, you always want to have a great home base of fan support, also.
USTA.com: What’s your biggest accomplishment on court?
Nick Andrews: I think my biggest accomplishment on court has been to play consistently well at a top-level Division 1 school for all four of my years in college. It has always been my dream to play college tennis and also professionally. I am on my way to accomplishing that.
USTA.com: You come from a tennis family, with a number of relatives playing collegiately and even on the tour. How are family tennis matches? Do things get heated?
Nick Andrews: It is very nice to come from a tennis family because everyone is so involved in my progress and successes. I am very lucky that my dad is also a top professional coach with many years of competition experience from his college years, as well as playing on the tour. He has brought me to where I am today, and he continues to help me with my game when he watches me play and when I am home during summer and the holidays.
As for family rivals, there have been some battles between my brother, who also graduated from Cal in 2010, and I when we were younger. One match I will never forget was on Father’s Day, when we were playing in the final of an open tournament in the boys’ 16s. My brother and I were extremely competitive, and he came out with the victory that day. I was extremely upset at the time, but I can see now how special of a day it must have been for my dad to have had both of us perform so well. Now, when we play, it is always for fun, and we really just enjoy the experience of playing with each other.
USTA.com: Any desire to try the pro tour after college?
Nick Andrews: Yes, I plan on playing some Futures tournaments immediately after I graduate, starting in the summer. I am lucky that the first one is in Sacramento, so I will be able to stay at home for that one. After that, I plan on traveling and playing the USTA Futures schedule for about six months and will mark my progress and make a decision on what to do next at that point.
USTA.com: What will Nick Andrews be doing in 10 years?
Nick Andrews: In 10 years, I will hopefully have finished a successful tennis career and be working in the Bay Area or Sacramento, doing something in the business field. I may choose to go to business school in a year or two, also, but I will see where my tennis takes me first.
USTA.com: You were a top recruit in the class of 2008. Why did you choose Cal?
Nick Andrews: During the recruitment process, I was given some good scholarship offers from other schools, but I wasn’t offered any scholarship from Cal as a freshman – it was left open-ended, with an opportunity for scholarship in the future. However, I chose Cal because of its strong academics and top tennis program. I really believed that Cal would push me and motivate me to succeed; I did not want to go anywhere else. I have had a lot of success during my time here. I have been able to earn a scholarship during my last three years and have grown a lot as a player.
It is also very important for me to get as much experience as I can while in college, and Cal really offers that from the personal, social, academic and athletic perspectives. There is a lot of tough competition in the Pac-12, and I am very fortunate to have competed against some of the best players in the country. It has been tough to balance school and tennis throughout my time here, but I believe I couldn’t have found a better place to succeed. Cal has really pushed me in all areas, and I have really benefited from the opportunity to attend this university. I couldn’t have made a better choice.
USTA.com: What advice would you give to juniors on the recruiting process?
Nick Andrews: I would advise junior players to look at colleges for more than just the tennis. Players should see if it is really a good environment in which they believe they can succeed. Also, it is very important to get along with the guys on your team. You will be spending a lot of time with them on and off the court, and chemistry is a big part of being on a team.