“College Tennis is unbelievably strong – it is not what you think” – Aditya Vashistha, India’s top player on the US College circuit

Aditya Vashishta became the lone Indian to make it to the Men’s main draw of the prestigious ITA All-American National Championships on the US College Tennis circuit. Aditya represents the St. John’s University Athletics team and was one of India’s best junior talents before pursuing further education in the US. Aditya was ranked in the top-250 in the world on the ITF World Junior Rankings. 

Mahitha Dadireddy, who was one of the top ranked player in India and played for the University of Tulsa on the College Tennis circuit, caught up with Aditya to get his thoughts on his journey so far. 

You were one of the best juniors from India and ranked in the top-250 in the world. For new followers – How would you summarise your junior career and any major accomplishments that you would highlight from your perspective.

Junior Circuit is very important. The coaches on the College circuit look at your Junior ITF ranking and your UTR (Universal Tennis Ranking) and that is how they recruit you. They look at the matches, the 3rd set wins you have and all those things. So it is very important to have a successful junior career while doing well in School.

My major accomplishments were reaching the Grade III finals and couple of semis on the Grade IV events.

What made you take the college tennis route (instead of the Pro tour)?

It came down to the financials. I did not have the money to travel all around the world to play on the Pro tour circuit. At the same time, College tennis offered me the option of taking care of my academics while also nurturing my Tennis.

People say that it is not the right path if you are looking at turning Pro but that is not true. College Tennis is unbelievably strong – it is not what you think. The standards are really high, the training is intense – it is just like a great academy.

How would you review your two years in College Tennis so far vis-a-vis the initial expectations?

I thought it was going to be pretty tough and I was right. In my freshman year, when I was at the Utah state, it was so hard to manage everything by myself. The tennis, the professors were tough on your academics, the coaches would expect similar level of preparedness before you enter the court and just about everything, you had to do on your own. Given my environment of growing up in India, it was all very tough for me.

However, I have grown up and got used to it. I find it really great now.

What are some of the biggest positives so far and areas that could have been better (vis-a-vis Tennis)?

I have improved a lot – getting used to the travel, playing on different surfaces, playing in front of different crowds and so on.

What could have been better – probably the college coaches could have been more tough on us. When I was in India at ARA, it was hard tennis for several hours. Here I do not get to play for like 5-6 hours. Here it is just 2-3 hours of tennis and you have to make the most of those 2 hours.

Other than that, the experience has been great and it has served as an academy kind of environment.

How do you review the match from your perspective today? You were playing the No.3 ranked player. Any key moments in the match?

I lost the first set 6-3 and had a couple of close games with deuce points and missed opportunities. I won the second set and the third set was just a blow out.

Overall it was a good experience. He is ranked in the top-600 on the ATP rankings even though he does not play many tourneys. So he was definitely a good player. It served as a very good experience for me to go toe-to-toe against him.

I had played a lot of matches before that. I had to win about 7 matches (some of them 3 sets) before I was able to make the main draw of this event. Overall it was a good experience and it gave me a lot of confidence to see the way I played against such quality player.

Any biggest accomplishment from the US College Tennis tour that you would call out?

Being ranked. I was ranked at 102 at one point on the US College scene which is a good achievement. There are so many good players out there who are unranked. There are only 125 ranked players and I was one of them, so I am very proud of that achievement.

It gives me the belief that I can also be there on the Pro circuit.

Additionally, getting the opportunity of being at the US Open and hitting with the Pros. Belinda Bencic, Ryan Harrison, John Isner, Sam Querrey and so on. To train and hit with them was a great opportunity.

Aditya Vashishta’s practice session with Belinda Bencic

What are your focus areas for this season vis-a-vis Tennis and any specific goals around them.

My goal is to make it into the top-50 of the College Tennis rankings and also play some Pro ITF events this summer. Then in my senior year, I would like to be in the top-20 of the rankings.

After I graduate, I am definitely aiming to turn pro. 

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