Over the years, more and more tennis players have found their way to the United States to combine their studies with high-level tennis. Several of these players have gone on to enjoy stellar professional tennis careers, while others are currently making their mark. In this blog, we highlight some of the very best college tennis players of all time.

1. John McEnroe

Let’s start with a true standout. John McEnroe is an absolute tennis legend. He won an impressive 77 professional singles tournaments and 78 doubles tournaments. This gives McEnroe the record for the most professional titles. McEnroe won Wimbledon three times in singles and the US Open four times.

The 65-year-old American is known as an “enfant terrible,” meaning he didn’t always behave politely on the tennis court. He often argued with the umpires, and he made sure everyone knew about it. Nowadays, he provides commentary for the BBC during Wimbledon.

McEnroe was also active in college tennis. He played just one year, in 1978, for Stanford University. There, he laid the foundation for an enormously successful career. And, as you might have guessed, McEnroe won the NCAA Championships with Stanford and also secured the singles title.

2. Cameron Norrie

The left-handed Brit, Cameron Norrie, has been a consistent presence in the upper echelons of men’s tennis for many years. In 2022, he reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in his home country.

From 2014 to 2017, Norrie was part of the tennis team at Texas Christian University (TCU), where he studied sociology. In his final year, Norrie won all ten of his matches in the Big-12 Conference. Because of this performance, Norrie was the top seed in his final year at the NCAA Championships. However, he decided not to participate in this tournament as he got the opportunity to compete in the grass season of the ATP Tour. He received a wildcard for Wimbledon but lost in the first round to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Afterward, he did not return to school but successfully launched his professional career.

3. Danielle Collins

Among women, Danielle Collins might be the greatest college tennis player ever. In 2022, she reached the final of the Australian Open. This year, Collins is retiring from professional tennis. However, she will still compete in the Olympics this summer in both singles and doubles.

Collins competed for two different universities in her home country. She started at the University of Florida Gators before transferring to the University of Virginia after a successful year. There, she won an impressive 101 out of 121 matches. This remarkable achievement also translated into the NCAA Championships. She became a two-time NCAA champion by winning the singles title in both 2014 and 2016. Collins graduated with a degree in Media Studies and Business. Later, she earned her master’s degree in Sports Management through a program in collaboration with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association).

4. Ben Shelton

Ben Shelton is currently one of the most popular professional tennis players, a true role model for college tennis, and a prominent figure in the new generation of tennis. Despite being only 21 years old, this left-handed player has reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and even made it to the semifinals at the US Open. As of this year, he is also ranked in the top 20 of the world rankings. He secured his first professional title by defeating Dutch player Gijs Brouwer at a Future tournament in Champaign.

In America, Shelton chose the University of Florida, where Slamstox’s tennis specialist Tanner Stump was his coach. In 2021, Shelton won the NCAA Championships with his team. A year later, he won the NCAA Singles Championship. A few months after that, Shelton decided to continue his finance degree online while pursuing a career as a professional tennis player.

5. Jimmy Connors

The fourth American in this list is also an absolute legend in tennis. Jimmy Connors won a staggering 109 professional singles tennis tournaments, with eight of them being Grand Slam titles. The only Grand Slam that Connors did not win during his career was the French Open (Roland Garros).

Connors had a very brief college career. In 1971, he won the NCAA tournament as a freshman for the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Shortly after this collegiate victory, Connors turned professional and immediately won his first professional title, followed by many more throughout his career.

Ready to take your tennis game to the next level, get prepared for professional tennis, and earn a degree at the same time? Or perhaps you’re looking to have an amazing time in the USA while playing tennis? Fill out this form and let our tennis specialists explore your options with you!