Ryan Colby’s Unstoppable Pursuit of Pro Tour Tennis Goals

3/1/22

[caption id="attachment_14293" align="aligncenter" ]Ryan Colby didn’t let a potentially career-ending elbow injury get in his way of playing at USC. And he continued to excel academically… Photo Courtesy of USC Tennis[/caption]

When recent Laurel Springs graduate Ryan Colby is playing tennis, the only thing stronger than his determination is his focus. He has fought for every chance to be on the court, and a victory claimed against him is not one taken easily.

Ryan is an Alexandria, VA, native and a former student of the St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes private school before joining Laurel Springs School at the seventh-grade level. He needed a flexible schooling option to work around his tennis schedule. While still at the brick-and-mortar school, he often had to leave in the middle of the day and struggled to catch up on assignments.

Now, with his education and athletic aspirations meshed together, Ryan has honed in on his tennis career, and his goals. They’re up there.

To be on the Pro Tour,” Ryan says when asked of his five-year goals. He adds, “if not [the Pro Tour], then something like sports management.”

With tenacity like his, the backup plan comes as more of an afterthought. A spot on the Pro Tour is more of a when than an if for the University of Southern California tennis star—Ryan joined the Trojans on the court in January 2022.

When Life Served Ryan Colby a Curveball…

…he volleyed them back with all he had. When he sustained a tennis-related injury to his elbow resulting in doctors insisting that Ryan’s tennis career had been cut short and that he’d never see another state- or national-level court.

Ryan’s injury required surgical intervention, during which bone was taken from his knee and placed in his elbow. He couldn’t walk for a couple of months, which took huge mental tolls from someone who’d always enjoyed a life of movement. Ryan went eight months without hitting a ball, and even then, he reentered the sport playing with red balls—foam or felt versions that bounce lower and move through the air slower, meant for beginners or those in injury recovery—and needed an entire year and a half before playing tennis with his full strength again.

For that reason, every victory, every advance, tastes 10 times sweeter.

I try to stay humble with it,” Ryan says of each W he carries off the court, “but I do feel a lot of emotions. Mostly happy. Especially because the elbow thing has been a big part of my life. Coming to where I am, even today has been a big accomplishment, especially since they said I would never play tennis like that again.”

After months of grueling recovery, Ryan will always consider his greatest accomplishment to be his health. His tennis record, however, comes in a close second. He signed with USC in November of last year. At the time of his signing, he ranked 82nd in the International Tennis Federation World Rankings and was the No. 2 player in the 18s for the U.S. Tennis Association. He has traveled the globe to compete, fine-tune his athletic skills, and, most importantly, broaden his understanding of the world.

“[When I travel] I see perspective on how kids don’t have a lot in some of the places I go and I try not to take things for granted,” Ryan says.

LEVELING UP: ONE DAY (AND MATCH) AT A TIME

[caption id="attachment_14283" align="alignleft" ]Ryan Colby won't let anything stop him. Photo Courtesy United States Tennis Association[/caption]

Tennis runs in the Colby blood. Ryan picked up one of his dad’s rackets as a child and quickly carried on the affinity for the sport into a second generation. Tennis, Ryan explained, is partially endurance of the mind and partially endurance of the body.

“It’s a combination of physicality and being mentally tough,” he says. “You’re out there for so long, but you have to play every point as hard as you can to try and win the match.”

The days of training are long, and the mornings are early for Ryan. He starts his day with two hours of schooling and two hours of tennis practice at the College Park Tennis Club in College Park, MD, followed by a quick lunch break. The second part of his day includes two more hours of school, two more hours of tennis practice, fitness training, and more school work in the evening.

The daily demands are all worth it in the end, especially when the hard work pays off. See his most recent stats. First in Virginia 18s, second in the US 18s, 49th in the world ranking, and a recruit of the Blue Chip Tennis Academy, and Boys 18s Clay Court Champion. He also gets to connect with tennis pros like Francis Tiafoe, who Ryan says has served as a huge inspiration in his budding tennis career.

“He just balances tennis so well,” he says. “You see some guys who are just so focused and they don’t do anything else but tennis. Personally, I wouldn’t want that, and Francis does a very good job of balancing tennis with his life.”

At Laurel Springs, Ryan is thankful for all of his peers.

“They push me every day to be a better person,” he says.

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Read US Tennis Association’s Spotlight on Ryan Colby.