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Where Are They Now?
Conversation with Former Penn State Star Brad Fielding
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Penn State University has a storied history when it comes to athletics, with their current chapter in the Big 10 conference starting in 1990. Brad Fielding was a four year starter for the Penn State tennis team, playing matches at No. 1 Singles and No. 1 doubles for the Nittany Lions each of his four years from 1987 to 1991. He was also elected as team captain his senior year - while helping lead Penn State into its new conference home. Harry Cicma of NBC Sports got the chance to catch up with Fielding about what college tennis means to him ...

Harry Cicma of NBC Sports got the chance to catch up with Fielding about what college tennis means to him ...

 

Questions and Answers

Former Penn State standout Brad Fielding
Harry Cicma (HC): What were your best memories of playing big-time college tennis?

Brad Fielding (BF): I had many enjoyable moments playing tennis at Penn State. Looking back on my career, there are two things that stand out the most in my mind: the comradeship from the players on the team and the competition I experienced. For the first time, at Penn State, I felt a deeper sense of belonging. I was part of something bigger then my individual achievements. In addition, I enjoyed playing with top competition on a daily basis.

 

HC: How did college tennis help you develop as a person?

BF: College tennis helped me on and off the court in various ways. On the court I became very focused on improving my game, my conditioning, and my overall strength. I not only grew as a player, but also as a young man. For the first time in my life I was living on my own. The team gave me discipline and a sense of belonging. PSU is a big campus and some times you can get lost. From day one I had friends - my teammates - who I could rely on. I never felt alone on campus, and I had people my age around me with the same goals and ambitions.

Off the court, tennis helped as well. At PSU, the athletic department is very strong and has study halls and tutors designed to help the student athletes. I became very focused on my academics. Because of my very busy tennis schedule, I had to be very organized and disciplined with my time. Tennis forced me to prioritize my day and set goals for my achievements. I had to organize my time so I could get my studying done, play tennis and of course have a little time leftover for a social life.

Tennis also set the ground work for me to become a very successful business man. I was able to apply what I learned from playing tennis at PSU - as well as being captain my senior year - to my career after graduation.

 

HC: What advice would you give young junior players looking to excel in college tennis?

BF: Realize that the most important thing about college is to stay in school and get a great education. It's important not to lose sight of your athletic dreams, but you must always keep a good perspective on the sport, school always comes first. You must be mature enough to handle the pressure and time constraints that go along with playing a college sport. You must stay disciplined and focused at all times. If you're not able to make the sacrifices that come along with the prestige of playing for a big time athletic program, then I would rethink the idea.

 

Fielding with his wife, Sandra Suarez-Fielding, and son, Matthew
HC: You competed at the top USTA National and ETA level. What memories stand out from those experiences?

BF: My fondest memories are traveling around the country with my father. We got a chance to bond over a sport we both loved. Being a competitive person, I loved the competition and still do. I enjoyed being recognized for my athletic ability on the court. I also liked, competing against, and watching some of the best juniors that ever played the sport in the United States.

 

HC: What was the transition like when you went off to Penn State?

BF: The transition for me was a difficult one. It was the first time I was living away from my family. As a freshman, I had to reestablish myself as a player in this new environment. The competition from match to match was tougher. There was no easy matches on the schedule. We played a top Division I schedule from the Ivy League schools to the Big 10 universities. My academic load was heavier than ever, and my travel schedule was full. We were on the road most of the year.

It was a definite adjustment period for me. But once that I emerged from that, I became a much better player - and ultimately a much more mature and well rounded person.

 
 

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About Harry Cicma

When it comes to college tennis, Harry Cicma is your man. Cicma covers tennis and other athletic stories for NBC Sports, writing articles and producing video segments.

He is co-founder and host of World Tennis a weekly tennis show on NESN, and host of of Tennis Live Radio's College Corner.

Cicma competed as a junior in USTA/New England and went on to play college tennis at Rutgers University. As a professional, Cicma competed at the ATP Newport tournament and the San Jose Siebel Open. He reached a career-high #75 in the ATP doubles team rankings and #1262 in the ATP Entry System.

In media, Cicma has run the gamut. He has worked for NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, FOX Sports Net, the Tennis Channel, and World Team Tennis. Cicma has announced NCAA sports as well as the US Open Tennis Championships on both TV and radio.

 
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