Vanderbilt sophomore Ryan Lipman was named to the All-SEC First Team for the second consecutive year earlier this week after an outstanding season, in which he posted a 15-7 record this spring playing at the No. 1 singles position. Lipman, who is currently ranked 29th in the ITA Division I National Singles Rankings, also notched a 16-8 doubles record in dual matches, going 10-7 with Adam Baker and 5-1 with Bryant Salcedo at the end of the season. He recently took time from his busy schedule to talk with USTA.com about playing in his hometown of Nashville, his goals for himself and his team this spring, what he will be doing 10 years from now and much more.
USTA.com: As one of the top-ranked juniors in the nation, you were recruited by a number of top programs. Why did you select Vanderbilt? Did you think about going somewhere further from home?
Ryan Lipman: I selected Vanderbilt University for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I wanted a school that had a great mix between academics and athletics, and Vanderbilt has both. My main aspiration is to be a successful professional tennis player, and the coaching staff at Vanderbilt has proven that they can develop players into successful professionals on tour.
Yes, I considered a number of other schools, but when it came down to it, being close to home and having family nearby was big in my selection process.
USTA.com: Your mom played college tennis at Vanderbilt. What kind of influence did she have on your decision?
Ryan Lipman: I definitely grew up a Vanderbilt fan because she played here, but when it came down to making a decision, she had no impact on what I decided. I knew she was going to be supportive no matter where I decided to go. She was actually pushing me to get out of Nashville and go to an unfamiliar city, but being in Nashville was the best choice for me.
USTA.com: Did you ever think about going pro right from juniors, or did you always know you wanted to go to college? Was that a hard decision for you to make?
Ryan Lipman: You know, it is every kid’s dream to be a professional tennis player, and for me it was no different. So, yes, I thought about going pro before going to college, but coming out of high school, I wasn’t physically ready for the tour, so going to college was an easy decision. I also knew the importance of getting a great education because the chances of making it as a professional tennis player are pretty small. A Vanderbilt degree is a great degree to have, so in case tennis doesn’t work out, then I will still have a pretty great plan B.
USTA.com: Now going into the end of your sophomore season, what do you think is the biggest difference between junior tennis and college tennis?
Ryan Lipman: The biggest difference for me is the depth of the competition. In juniors, I may have had some easier matches, but playing No. 1 singles in the SEC, I have to be ready to battle every week. Also, players in college have way more weapons and far fewer weaknesses.
USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and for your team this spring?
Ryan Lipman: First and foremost, I want the team to succeed, and by doing that, I know my individual accolades will follow. More specifically, I want to become an All-American and help the team advance to the Sweet 16 or further.
USTA.com: Vanderbilt has an excellent academic reputation. Have you selected a major yet?
Ryan Lipman: I have gone back and forth with a couple of different majors already because I can’t quite figure out what I want to do with my life after tennis. But I have chosen Organizational and Financial Management, which will be a great major for me to have when my professional career is over. I feel like this is a good major for me because it teaches me about finance and how money works, as well as how organizations are structured.
USTA.com: How do you balance your academics and tennis, especially in the spring?
Ryan Lipman: At Vanderbilt, it is very important to stay on top of your work, and if you do that, balancing academics and tennis becomes very manageable. I have to give a hand to our academic center because they do a great job in offering tutors and helping with time management, which makes it easier to juggle school, tennis and a social life.
USTA.com: Ten years from now, what will Ryan Lipman be doing?
Ryan Lipman: Ten years from now, I will hopefully have had a successful professional tennis career, reaching top 50 in the world. I would love to be settled down with a family, coaching college tennis at a top university, where I can use my love for the game to help develop future talent.
USTA.com: Your younger brother, Maxx, is a sophomore in high school and a top-ranked junior player. What advice do you have for him and other junior tennis players as they begin the recruiting process?
Ryan Lipman: I would tell them to have fun with the whole process. At times, it can become overwhelming, but if you stop to think about it, it really is an incredible experience. Normal kids are doing everything they can to sell themselves to the school, but being an elite tennis player, the role is reversed. The school is trying to do everything they can to sell what they offer to you. It is also very important to really get to know and establish relationships with the coaches to find out who they are and what their program is all about. But, like I said, just enjoy the process.