- School: Stanford
- Year Graduated: 2018
- Current Job: Investment Banker
Tom Fawcett was born on October 18, 1995 in Skokie, Illinois. He was raised in Illinois and graduated from New Trier High School in 2014. After graduating high school, Fawcett enrolled at Stanford.
Tom had a very successful junior career. Before heading to Stanford in the fall of 2014, Tom was ranked #2 in his recruiting class. He had great success for his high school team as well, leading his school to a state title. He also reached the doubles final of the state championship while representing New Trier High School.
Tom Fawcett played at the #1 singles position throughout all four of his years at Stanford. One of the most impressive aspects of Tom’s college career was his consistency. His freshman year, Fawcett was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a member of the PAC-12 First Team, ending the year ranked #35 in the country. His sophomore year, Fawcett was named an ITA All-American in singles, finishing the year ranked #10 in singles and #16 in doubles. His junior year, Fawcett was named the PAC-12 Singles Player of the Year and was once again an All-American in singles. His senior year, Fawcett was named an All-American in singles for the third straight year, finishing at #13 in the country.
After graduating from Stanford, Fawcett began to play professionally. He reached a career high ranking of #440 in the world in January of 2019, winning one futures title. After playing over a year on tour, he realized that the tour was not for him. He took a job as an investment banker and is currently working back in Chicago.
Tom has always been a good tennis player and a great competitor. He is a well-rounded guy with a lot to offer, but you’ll read in his interview that he learned a lot outside of the classroom while he was in college. He provides great perspective on the “there is more to life than tennis” mentality, and that is important to understand. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Fawcett!
7 Questions With Tom Fawcett
#1) What was your recruiting/school selection process like?
When I was in 6th grade, we were given an assignment to write a letter to ourselves to read once we turned 18. My letter started off “Ok, so you’re probably playing tennis at Stanford by now…”. I had always wanted to play tennis at Stanford. I worked hard pursuing this goal both athletically and academically starting at a young age.
By the time I was a junior in high school, I started to have some solid USTA results and, as a result, I had some good options when it came to my college decision. I visited and held conversations with several coaches at schools mostly in the Midwest, but ultimately when I was offered a spot on the Stanford team, the decision became quite easy for me.
#2) What was your favorite moment/story/aspect of college?
There are so many incredible memories from college that it is hard to condense it into a paragraph. One moment that comes to mind was my first 4-3 team win my freshmen year. Our team was ranked close to 40 at the time and we were playing USC, a team ranked inside the top 10. The match, tied at 3-3, came down to our captain, John Morrissey’s court. John ended up winning in a long back and forth match, and after storming the court with the team and celebrating properly that night, I realized how special this team was and what a remarkable experience I was a part of. This moment was when I fell in love with college tennis. There were many more amazing moments that followed.
#3) How did college tennis prepare you for the rest of your career/life?
For most people, college is the first time they are allowed freedom and leniency with their schedules. As an athlete, it’s a little different since class, practice, and fitness dictate most of the time during the day, but there is still more free time than ever before. As a result, college really helped me develop my time management and prioritization skills. In order to truly excel in the classroom and on the tennis court, I relied on these skills.
After school I played professional tennis for a year, and time management became even more vital. There is a lot of downtime on tour, and motivating to be productive with that time isn’t always easy. Now, I am in investment banking, and those skills are still extremely essential. Balancing long hours and a heavy workload becomes more manageable with these skills I learned from college and tennis.
#4) A lot of juniors and parents worry that tennis will suffer because of the academic demands of college. What advice would you give an 18-year old in terms of balancing academics and tennis?
I believe that a healthy balance in life produces the best athletes and people. As a result, demands outside of tennis really helped my tennis game. It forced me to be productive with the time I had in the gym or on the court, and gave me an outlet to mentally challenge myself. I would advise incoming college tennis players to embrace the challenges that come with being a student-athlete, since those challenges are unique and will only help in the long-run.
My tennis game actually began to suffer when I was on tour, and I struggled to find an outlet to get away from the game. My day was consumed with tennis. I found myself missing the balance that college allowed me, and I was provided with a new challenge in terms of figuring out a way to replicate the balance I had in college.
#5) Another thing we see parents worrying about is how the social component of college will affect their kids tennis. What would you tell an 18-year old going to college in regards to having fun without compromising their tennis/academics?
I am most grateful for the relationships I built in college. It is definitely achievable to have a fun and social experience without sacrificing grades or tennis performance. Choosing the right school with a good team dynamic and a coach who provides guidance on and off the court is a huge benefit. As a result, team culture should be one of the first things a recruit considers when looking at perspective colleges.
#6) Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you were starting college again today?
There is very little that I would change from my college experience. All four years were surreal and I have lifelong friends and memories because of it. One aspect of college, which is almost inevitable because of all of the demands, is that student-athletes sometimes try to just “get by” in some classes. If I could go back, I would try to take some classes that weren’t a part of my major and path towards graduation. College is a rare opportunity to learn about truly anything, but at times it was difficult for me to have that mindset since I was just trying to survive the demands of each day while striving for a good GPA.
#7) In your case, why did you think that college tennis was a good option as opposed to going directly to the pro tour?
For me, going pro in tennis was something I realized I wanted to do only after I started college. Therefore, I never thought about going directly to the pro tour (also because I wasn’t nearly good enough to consider it). That being said, my tennis greatly improved over my four years in school, and that time helped me gain the maturity to prepare for a life on tour.
Ultimately, I knew that as much as I loved tennis, it eventually would come to an end. And I knew college would help me prepare for a professional career outside of tennis. I do not believe my tennis career was cut short because of my time in college. In fact, it is because of Stanford tennis and my coaches Paul Goldstein and Brandon Coupe that I ended up playing professional tennis at all. I owe it all to my coaches, teammates and family for pushing my tennis career to the high levels I was able to reach.