The accolades continue to pile up for Mitchell Frank, who had an outstanding freshman season for the University of Virginia men's tennis team. Frank, from Annandale, Va., ended the year ranked No. 2 nationally in singles after posting a 38-2 record. He won both of the fall's major singles titles, the ITA All-American Championship and the ITA National Indoor Championship, and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championship. In addition, he earned ITA All-America honors, was named the 2012 ITA National Freshman of the Year and was selected to the 2012 ITA Collegiate All-Star Team, as well as to the 2012 USTA Collegiate Team. Frank recently took time to talk with USTA.com about his goals for next season, what he enjoys most about being a Cavalier, how he manages his time and much more in the latest USTA.com College Spotlight.
USTA.com: You are coming off of an excellent freshman year, with both excellent results individually and on your team. What are your goals going into the 2012-13 season?
Mitchell Frank: Yes, I had an exceptional year from both an individual and team standpoint, and it will definitely be tough to improve on my results from this past year. I would say my goals are to win the team and individual NCAAs at the end of this upcoming year. I would love to be a part of the team that gives the University of Virginia its first NCAA team title! Also, I am really going to try to improve my game a lot, even if it requires me to take a couple more losses this upcoming year. There are numerous areas of my game I need to improve on to move towards becoming a successful pro in this next collegiate year.
USTA.com: Was the decision to attend college and not turn pro right away a difficult one?
Mitchell Frank: To be honest it was fairly easy. Although I had done well in juniors in the ITFs and had some success on the pro tour, especially last summer, I knew that my game needed to mature a lot, and as a result, my coaches back at College Park knew that I needed to go to college to work on these areas of my game. I think that the majority of players should go to college because it gives you time to mature mentally, emotionally and physically as a player. So it definitely was a pretty simple decision for me to go to college.
USTA.com: What made you choose the University of Virginia?
Mitchell Frank: I chose the University of Virginia because I really felt like the coaches – Brian, Andres and Scott – were extremely knowledgeable and could help in taking my game to the next level. I can honestly say they have lived up to my expectations and have done even more than I thought when I was getting recruited. In addition, the guys on the team were more motivated than the other colleges I looked at, and many wanted to play pro, as well. They were also very close, which I liked, because everyone really supported each other. It obviously didn’t hurt that UVA has an unbelievable reputation for academics and the people there are incredibly nice, either. I am very happy that I chose Virginia.
USTA.com: What is your favorite thing about being a Cavalier?
Mitchell Frank: I would say it is the support that I feel, whether it is on the tennis court, in the classroom or just around the grounds. Everyone there really cares for each other, and it is a very close-knit group of students. The coaches, the professors and the students all look out for you, which is quite remarkable in my opinion. And it is crazy how much the community supports the tennis program, as often hundreds, if not close to 1,000 come out for the matches. Oh, and I like to try to be tougher than Coach Boland. That’s another favorite!
USTA.com: What is a day in the life of Mitchell Frank like?
Mitchell Frank: Usually I would wake up around 7:30 or 8, and I would either have one or two classes in the morning until around 11. Then I would practice for close to two hours, eat lunch and have class at 2 before heading back out to practice again for a couple hours with fitness following. Then I would usually go eat dinner and do schoolwork before heading back out to the courts at about 9 or 10 and hitting some serves or doing some specific work. I would usually finish up a bit more schoolwork before going to bed around 11 or 11:30.
USTA.com: You have achieved success in academics your freshman year. What were the keys to managing your time so well?
Mitchell Frank: I think the keys for me were getting my priorities straight. I knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could on my tennis, so I would focus on my schoolwork to try to allow myself more freedom to play. In addition, I went to virtually every class, except when we were traveling to matches, so that helped me understand the material better. However, I think that it is important to realize that every freshman goes through a transition period, as college is very different from high school, so it definitely took me a bit of time to see how I should manage my time to prioritize my tennis and schoolwork. While this forced me to give up a lot of the social aspects, I just love tennis, so it was easy for me to give up that aspect of college life.
USTA.com: If you could give high school students one piece of advice as they begin the college search process, what would it be?
Mitchell Frank: I would definitely say to really look beyond the tennis and academics and into the environment of the college. While playing tennis and your academics are very important, you have to remember that you will be living at the school, so it is imperative that you like the people there, the campus isn’t boring and you can enjoy the culture that comes with the university. Also, I think it is important that you like the other players on the team, as they will become some of your best friends at school. While the coaches have influence over the team, every team has its own sort of personality, so definitely make sure that you can deal with that personality.