Five-time Dutch champion Lodewijk Weststrate goes to America. Lodewijk, who achieved a highest global ITF ranking of No. 39, has decided to pursue his tennis career at the University of Southern California (USC). The 18-year-old topper from Voorschoten will finish his high school this year and will officially start in September as a Trojan in Los Angeles, where he will follow in the footsteps of former ATP # 21 Steve Johnson, grand-slam winner Robert Farah, among others. , Slamstox tennis player Laurens Verboven and Slamstox colleague Peter Lucassen. Lodewijk will be part of an international team of boys who have made it far in the tennis world before they left for America. For example, future teammates Daniel Cukierman and Mor Bulis were already number 525 and 488 on the ATP World Rankings.
In this interview Lodewijk talks about his choice for college tennis and USC, his ambitions, and gives tips to boys and girls who are also considering combining sports and study in America.
“College tennis a great way to become prof “
You have long been number 1 in the Netherlands in your age category and have won many major national and international tournaments. What is your best memory from your junior career?
My best memory in the Netherlands is my 5 national singles titles – especially the first few were special. At an international level, I think participating in all junior Grand Slams the best memories, especially reaching the last 16 in the single at the Australian Open.
Who thaught you the most in your carreer so far?
I have been training with Marcel Kokshoorn since I started playing tennis, so I learned the most from him in my tennis career. Marcel works with Nick Carr, from whom I also learned a lot. Both trainers have a lot of (international) experience and can transfer their knowledge of technique and tactics in a very good way.
Other trainers with whom I have worked very well and pleasantly for a longer period of time are Leonne Heffels, Frits ten Bruggencate, Eddy Bank and Dennis Schenk. Unfortunately I was only able to experience Raemon Sluiter for a short time, but that was also a very positive experience.
You have decided to pursue your tennis career at the University of Southern California in America. Why did you decide to play college tennis in America?
Because college tennis is also a good way to turn pro later on. The facilities at American colleges are excellent and very professional. And you also follow a good education in addition to your sport.
Why did you choose USC?
A number of reasons. Firstly, I had a good feeling during my ‘official visit’ to USC in September 2019. I had a good click with the coaches and it seems like a nice team to play in. In addition, the facilities are excellent. I see USC as a top environment to further develop my tennis. Finally, USC is also a very good academic university, and Los Angeles is of course a beautiful city to live in.
You were able to visit three universities in America via Slamstox during your ‘official visit’ to make a final choice. Can you tell us something about your trip and your impressions?
The American coaches are known for spending a lot of time scouting for players they might want on their team. They know almost every player in the ITF Junior tour. In the past 2 years I have been approached by many universities and coaches and in these conversations I got a good impression of the American college tennis and the differences between the universities and coaches. In the end I made a choice to visit Wake Forest, University of Texas and USC. All three fantastic schools with a very good tennis program.
The week-long trip was very intensive, but very interesting and educational. You get a better impression of the lectures when you are there instead of looking at photos and having telephone conversations with the coaches. A lot was arranged for me and I was able to see and experience everything that belongs to the lectures. You will meet the players and talk to everyone who will be dealing with you if you choose to go to that university: from tutors to physios, strength & conditioning coaches and the nutritionist.
During your ‘official visit’ you also got to know Belgian Slamstox player Laurens Verboven. How helpful was it to speak to him about his experiences at USC?
It was very useful to speak to Laurens because he played for USC for four years, so he went through everything there. He was very enthusiastic and that definitely helped me in my choice.
What are you looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to training a lot with the team, the fun of playing in a team and making each other better, and playing games all over the United States. I am also looking forward to living in Los Angeles.
Is there anything you dread or are nervous about? If so, what?
What I find exciting, is what my place in the team will be, because there are many good players. I will have to work hard for my place on the team.
What are your goals during your college tennis career?
Getting the most out of my tennis and winning many matches. Playing for titles is, of course, a goal as well.
Many fans often come to watch USC’s matches. These are university students but also tennis fans from Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Do you enjoy playing in front of a large audience?
Yes, I enjoy playing with an audience because there is a nice atmosphere that gives me extra motivation. I have already seen a few videos of college competitions on Youtube. The public is very involved in the competitions and this gives an extra dynamic to the competitions.
What are you planning to study?
What do you expect from life in Los Angeles, apart from study and tennis?
It is a large and energetic city so there is always something to do and it is close to the ocean. I also enjoy playing golf now and then. However, I expect to spend a lot of time on the USC campus to attend lectures and train. For the first year I will also live on campus – it is mandatory.
What are your tennis ambitions after completing your studies in America?
My goal is to become a professional tennis player after college.
“I see USC as a perfect environment to develop myself.”
How did you come into contact with Slamstox and what was your experience like?
Slamstox helped me very well. There is a lot involved in preparing for the departure to America. I have worked very intensively with Slamstox in the preparation and am impressed by their knowledge of the universities and coaches of the American college tennis. The Slamstox app is a useful tool for this.
If you advise tip boys and girls your age when choosing college, what would you advise them?
Choosing a college requires a lot of preparation. There are many universities to choose from and it pays off to determine for yourself what is important to you in advance. You can determine for yourself what you expect from the coaches and players, which conference you prefer, what the balance is between academics and athletics, the location (outdoor play all year round or indoor in winter), and if the university, next to the individual and team championships also facilitates playing of other (ITF) tournaments, etc. I would recommend getting in touch with coaches early as they keep an eye on a lot of players and because the lead time from first contact to signing your contract can take months (or sometimes more than a year).
If you can, I would definitely recommend attending your preferred lectures (through ‘official visits’). If you are talking to a college coach, also ask when they will come to Europe. This offers the opportunity to meet without having to travel to America. In my case, coaches also came to the Netherlands to meet me (and my family).
In the past, several Dutch people have been very successful at USC Men’s Tennis. Our Slamstox colleague Peter Lucassen has won two NCAA Championships and Max de Vroome has also won an NCAA Championship with USC. Are you going to continue this tradition?
I certainly intend to and I will do my very best for it!
Lodewijk, thank you for the fun and inspiring interview! Do you want to play college tennis in America, just like Louis, and study at university at the same time? Then contact us. For more photos and videos from USC, check out the “USC” highlight on the Slamstox Instagram page.
More about the University of Southern California:
Number of students: 45 thousand
Studies offered: Click here to see which studies are offered at USC
Sports offered : Check the athletics website by clicking here.
Sports conference: Pac-12 Conference, one of the strongest sports conferences in college sports.
Famous people: comedian and actor Will Ferrell and astronaut Neil Armstrong