Connie Hsu, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, has 42 victories on the year to date and is a perfect 6-0 in Ivy League play. Currently ranked 26th in the ITA Division I Rankings, Hsu recently took time to answer questions for USTA.com about how she got started in tennis, how she balances her academics with her tennis and personal life and much more.
USTA.com: How did you get started in tennis?
Connie Hsu: My father used to be pretty athletic and could play many different kinds of sports. Whenever there was free time, he would take the whole family to the park to play some kind of sports. He introduced tennis to me when I was around five. I didn't like it at first because I was terrible at it. But after two years, when I started beating my parents and my brothers in matches, I started to like it and became more serious about it.
USTA.com: You were one of the top recruits in the class of 2010. Tell us a little about the recruiting process and why you chose Penn.
Connie Hsu: Tennis, academics and distance to home were the three important factors in my selection of colleges. Since I lived in San Antonio at the time, at first I mainly considered good tennis and academic schools around Texas. After a while, I started looking at Penn, not only because the academics there are exceptional but also my brother was studying there. After I got to know the coach there, Sanela, and her tennis program, it became clear to me that UPenn was the right school for me because she used to be a top tennis player, and that really made me believe she could help me improve my game tremendously in college.
USTA.com: You spent the year after you graduated playing pro events. Did that make the decision to go to school easier?
Connie Hsu: I think playing those pro events definitely helped me make the decision to go to school easier. While traveling and playing those tournaments, I got to understand the life of being a professional tennis player a lot more. Even though I liked it, I realized I didn't want to go straight to professional tennis without experiencing some form of college education first. As a result of these tournaments, I became determined to go to college.
USTA.com: You have had an outstanding spring so far. What are your goals for yourself and for your team this season?
Connie Hsu: So far this season, our team has improved so much. But at the same time, we have been so close to winning some of our matches. So the goal for my team right now is to keep improving, and hopefully that will help us win more of those tight matches. My personal goal right now is to win and improve as much as possible so that I will be able to participate and do well in the NCAAs!
USTA.com: Penn has an amazing reputation academically. What do you like most about your student experience there?
Connie Hsu: I rarely do anything outside of tennis and academics because there is always so much work that there is no time for leisure. But the one thing I absolutely love is the friends that I made in my classes and in my dormitory. We always help each other out by studying together and discussing any problems in school. Once in a while, we make time to hang out or go to one of those school events, which is always a lot of fun.
USTA.com: As a student-athlete, free time is tough to find. How do you balance your academics, tennis and personal life?
Connie Hsu: As mentioned before, it is really tough for me to find free time to relax or have fun. I constantly have to stay conscious of my time management, but from time to time I would start slacking off and spend more time on relaxing or fun. So having my family near me helps a lot because they are always checking and quick to point out any imbalances.
USTA.com: What’s the best thing about college tennis?
Connie Hsu: The best thing about college tennis is the experience of being a part of a team. Most of my teammates, like me, grew up playing for themselves, so at first it felt really awkward just to be around each other. But gradually we started to care for one another, and after the fall semester, our team has gotten much closer and more supportive of each other. Now it seems our time together is flying by so quickly.
USTA.com: You and Arizona State freshman Jacqueline Cako came down to Boca in January for a camp. How was that experience for you?
Connie Hsu: Training with the USTA has always been helpful because their training schedule is always so much tougher and stricter than my training schedule at home. I am really glad I came this year because since there were very few college players there, I got a lot more attention from the coaches, and that helped me improve a lot. I also had a good time hanging out with Jacqueline and a couple of the people training there at the time.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Connie Hsu: I think it's important that you don't get too stressed out about choosing the right college for you. The process is actually pretty simple; all you have to do is to filter out a list of colleges and just be yourself on the official visits. When the time comes, you will know instinctively which one is right for you.