|Postcard from Ithaca - Flecky in the Ivy League|
GSTC member Sam Fleck reflects on his first term on a tennis scholarship at Cornell University in New York State, where he is studying economics. "The tennis has been amazing, but the schoolwork....
“The tennis has been amazing, but the schoolwork is tough and that’s taken up a lot of my time. Unfortunately it’s not just tennis. I’m working into the early hours of the morning some nights. It’s usually just bad scheduling by me. But the social life is really good.
“Cornell’s campus is in Ithaca, upstate New York, three or four hours drive inland from New York City. Winters are horrible, snowy windy and really cold. There’ll be snow there for the next three months or so. I haven’t got any warm clothes, I need to buy some. We’re playing tennis indoors at the moment but we’ll be outside in March or April.
“On my team there are nine freshmen (first year students) this year including me. Normally there are only about three, so it’s great I can hang out with all of those. I went home with one of them for Thanksgiving. He lives in Maryland where his parents have got a really nice place. Also there are a couple of asian guys on the team who are massive lightweights (joke).
“Next term we’ll play the other Ivy League teams like Harvard, Yale and Columbia. Last term was all individual events, singles tournaments and so on. But next term we come up against all the other colleges in the NCAA championships. Cornell’s never going to win, it’s tough. It’ll be the big universities like USC (University of Southern California). They’re really good; a couple of their players are going professional.
“We’re ranked about 40, so even qualifying is tough. This year we’ll aim to qualify and maybe win a round because we’re a young team. Then maybe next year we’ll make the last sixteen.”
“I’m really glad I came here. It should set me up for life hopefully, although with a lot of debt. Without a scholarship, tuition fees here are about $35,000 (£20,000) per year, so it’s a lot more than at home. But I think it’s a lot better for me than an English University because they work you harder, which means hopefully a better degree at the end. The tennis is great, the social life’s great. It’s quite a big campus so I’ve got to know a lot of good people.
“Of course I miss Shelford. I miss coming down to the club sessions, and the matches and Sunday nights and those horrible early morning lessons with (head coach) Hamid.
I’ll stay a club member, come back each summer and winter and play when I can. So long as I can make the team.”