Chicago native Evan King was one of the top recruits in the country heading into the 2009-10 season. The University of Michigan freshman, who was the No. 1-ranked player in the USTA boys' 18s as a junior, has had an impressive start to his collegiate career, playing at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles (with junior Jason Jung) and clinching the win over No. 10 California earlier this monthwith an upset over No. 59 Christoffer Konigsfeldt. King, who turns 18 on March 25, recently spoke to USTA.com about why he decided to attend Michigan, his biggest challenges in college so far, his goals for himself and his team and more.
Michigan freshman Evan King
© U-M Athletic Media Relations
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 Michigan?
Evan King: I chose Michigan for a couple of reasons. I really got to know both the head coach and assistant coach pretty well during the recruiting process. I thought that Bruce and Sean complimented each other very well. I also asked as many people as I could about them, and all of the feedback that I received was positive. When I took my visit, I felt very comfortable with everything and got along with the team well. The icing on the cake was the fact that Michigan is a great academic school.
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?
Evan King: I always knew that I wanted to go to college to play tennis. I have watched dual matches for a long time, and I knew that someday I wanted to be a part of that. It was a no brainer for me when it was time to choose. The competition in college tennis is great and is getting deeper. The environment of the matches is one of a kind. The coaching, training, resources that are available in college are extremely helpful, and on top of that, I am getting a great education. It was definitely the right decision for me.
USTA.com: You joined the team this past fall. What were some of the biggest challenges in adjusting to college life and college tennis?
Evan King: The biggest challenge is definitely balancing practice, traveling and school work, while still having some time left over to relax. There are some weeks where it is barely possible, but my time-management skills have definitely improved since I got to school. The biggest adjustment in college tennis is having a coach on the court with you. It is a little bit different at first, but it can be extremely helpful in tough matches. Also, every single match is a battle; there are no first or second rounds in a dual match. From the first point, you have to be pumped up and ready to go. It’s so good.
USTA.com: What is the biggest difference between junior tennis and college tennis?
Evan King: The biggest difference between junior tennis and college tennis is being a part of a team. It is extremely fun to go onto the court knowing that I am not playing only for myself but trying to get a win for the University of Michigan. I love going out on the court and screaming, “Let’s go BLUE!”
USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and for your team this spring?
Evan King: Individually, I would like to earn all-American honors and win as many matches as possible for my team during the season. For the team, I want to win a big fat Big Ten ring to wear on my hand. That would mean that we won the Big Ten.
USTA.com: Michigan has an excellent academic reputation. What’s been your favorite class so far?
Evan King: My favorite class so far has been Sport Management 111. The class talked about the history of college sports. The lectures were really interesting, and I learned a ton about all college sports and how big of an impact it has on Americans today. None of my other classes have come close to that so far.
USTA.com: Free time doesn’t really exist for a student-athlete, but what do you like to do in your moments away from the classroom and the courts?
Evan King: My days are extremely jam-packed in Ann Arbor, but in the little free time that I have, I like to catch up on sleep. I love days where I can sleep in. Other than that, I like owning people in ping-pong, listening to any artist from Chicago and watching “24” and “House.”
USTA.com: Ten years from now, what will Evan King be doing?
Evan King: Ten years from now, hopefully I will be in the middle of a great tennis career and helping other kids achieve their dreams at the same time -- in a warm-weather climate.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Evan King: The biggest advice that I have for junior players is not to stress during their junior year of high school. Enjoy the recruiting process, keep improving your game and have fun playing. I would recommend taking as many visits as you can, official and unofficial. I also think it is important to gather as much information about the school and the coaches as possible because that could be your home for four years.