The Senior Spotlight is a look at 50 rising seniors who could make an impact in the 2013-14 school year.
The summer is exactly like the rest of the year for Waldwick tennis player Nick Bradley. There’s just more of it.
“It’s practically eight hours a day with fitness and playing on the court,” the Warriors’ rising senior said. “All the big national tournaments are in places like Florida and California, so you have to have those tough days to be able to handle the heat out there.”
This is an important summer for Bradley. He is out to plant his game in the minds of some of the top college coaches in the nation.
“All the college coaches are at the national tournaments that I’m playing at,” he said. “And this is the first time they’re really going to see me, because I’m playing in the 18s [age group] and not the 16s. You have to get yourself into their heads.”
In the little more than two months since he dropped a three-set thriller in the state final at Mercer County Park, Bradley has played in two major tournaments at Mercer and in Florida and will be heading to a third later this week in Michigan.
In June, he and partner Kelly Williford, a Virginia Tech freshman from Basking Ridge, reached the semifinals in mixed doubles at a U.S. Open qualifier at Mercer County Park. And earlier this month, he reached the third round of the U.S. Clay Court Championships in Florida before falling to a player who will be heading to UCLA in the fall.
Beginning Friday, he will be playing in the USTA Boys National Tennis Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., with a trip to the U.S. Open going to the winner.
“I kind of like the pressure of playing in big matches,” Bradley said. “It doesn’t make me nervous. I enjoy being on a big stage and showing what I can do.”
And he’s out to do just that as he shoots for a Division I scholarship.
“I’d like to play somewhere down South,” he said. “A lot of the guys I’ve played against are going Ivy or staying local. I want to get away and look for different challenges.”
His first challenge is to make a good impression on the coaches of the tough Atlantic Coast Conference, where he hopes to end up. The ACC features some of the top tennis programs in the country, such as those at Virginia, Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech.
“The ACC is probably the toughest conference in the country along with the Pac-12,” said Bradley, who is also talking to coaches from Big Ten schools. “It would be an awesome challenge to play in the ACC because no matter where you play, you’re going to get great competition.”
Bradley, one of the most dominant players in the state last season, still has one piece of unfinished business before he can take the next step in college: winning that state championship that just eluded his grasp.
“I’m still going to be intense when it comes to the counties and the states,” he said. “I want to win the states.”