BRADENTON, Fla. – Luke Smith hopes that spending his final year of high school at the IMG academy will get him ready to be a successful collegiate tennis player.
Smith, a Toronto native, joined the southern Florida boarding school after suffering a rash of injuries through his first three years of high school. He hopes training and playing tennis for his grade 12 year at the highly-renowned institution will revitalize his game.
“I kind of decided I had to pick it up; catch up for missed time,” the 17-year-old said. “This is the best place to play [with] a lot of kids. I get the most time on the court here.”
Collegiate tennis is on Smith’s mind as he hopes to make the jump to the NCAA ranks next year.
“I have applied to multiple American colleges, and narrowed it down to three or four choices,” he said. “[I’m] just waiting on acceptances to a couple of them.”
Fairfield, Bucknell, and Trinity College are three of the American post-secondary institutions which he has applied for. Fairfield is a NCAA Division-I tennis program.
The high-school senior suffered injuries to both wrists, his right hand, and had a bout of mononucleosis before his senior year. He hopes to participate in more tournaments before he graduates the preparatory school.
“I definitely would like to create some results in tournaments, I haven’t been able to play too much,” Smith said. “It’d be nice to kind of get out there and get some results before I’m done.”
He also plans to compete in the under-18 International Tennis Federation All-Canadian junior championships on April 7-12 in Burlington, Ontario. The tournament is at a convenient time for Smith, who will be home for spring break a week prior. Smith has also attended many of the tennis camps available at the academy.
Smith will look to improve on his No. 129 status in the Rogers under-18 Ontario junior tennis rankings.
He trained for tennis at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, a place where Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic also crafted his skills.
The guitar enthusiast also spent Grade 9 and 10 at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, so the move to Florida for private school wasn’t as large of an adjustment.
“It definitely prepared me a lot for this; helped me transition,” Smith said. “This has been a lot different, a lot further away from home. You’ve got to be a lot more independent.”
The schedule for Smith is a lot different at the academy then at a normal high school.
From Monday to Thursday, Smith has classes from 7:30 in the morning to just after noon, and Friday’s schedule starts at 8:20, also ending in the early afternoon. His routine also includes three hours on the tennis court each weekday and an hour-long fitness session.
Smith credits his newfound awareness of what’s going into his body to the nutrition classes at the school, and commended the state-of-the-art vision program.
The world-renowned institution is home to 950 students and imports students from over 80 countries. It also has 52 tennis courts. Lacrosse, basketball, baseball, soccer, track and field, golf and football are also featured sports at the school.
The academy also offers training grounds for many pro sports teams, and Smith is in good company with notable tennis alumni Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and Andre Agassi to follow.