Editor’s note: In appreciation of the members of the vast Florida tennis community, all throughout April USTA Florida will pay tribute to the high school, collegiate, and club tennis seniors who have seen their respective seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than let achievements and accomplishments both on and off the court be overshadowed by unexpected challenges, USTA Florida has given some of these seniors the chance to share the positives and successes they’ve had.
A Key Biscayne native, 21-year-old Johann Rapp is a senior at the University of Florida and Vice President of the UF Tennis on Campus club tennis team. The Materials Science and Engineering major has been swinging a tennis racquet for around 15 years after learning to play tennis during his childhood in Austria, where his family lived for a few years. Rapp continued to play after returning to the United States, later going on to play all four years on the varsity tennis team at Coral Reef Senior High School. Additionally, Rapp was a ball boy at the Miami Open for five years, giving him the opportunity to work with some of the top players in the world.
How did you get involved in tennis?
My younger brother played at some courts right next to where I would play soccer. We had a good, healthy sibling rivalry going so naturally I wanted to be better at the sport than he is, so one day I joined in on a practice and have loved it ever since.
What’s your favorite thing about the sport?
I enjoy the individualistic nature of the sport, that you are the sole person who can decide what your future looks like. If you put in the work, you will be rewarded (most times).
What led you to ultimately choose UF when you were selecting the college you wanted to attend?
UF was a great school which was still in state but still far away enough from home to give me an independent life. After visiting the campus, I fell in love with the school and everything it had to offer.
Why did you want to join the club tennis team and be part of the Tennis on Campus program?
It was recommended to me by an older friend of mine. I figured finding a group of people with a similar interest would help me adjust to a new way of life. Plus, I wanted to stay active and have an outlet for when times get stressful at school.
Of all your tennis achievements with UF Tennis on Campus, both individually and as a member of the club, what was your favorite moment and why?
My favorite achievement and memory was reaching the final of the Fall Invitational Tournament in 2018. It was the most fun I have had at a club tennis tournament; I got really close to my teammates, made lasting memories, shared laughs and made it to the finals of the tournament avenging our losses to Georgia Tech and NC State along the way.
What has your involvement with the organization meant to you?
It has brought many great memories, friendships and experiences. It has also taught me the importance of finding a group of like-minded people who share the same passion as you. Finding UF Club Tennis helped me quickly acclimate to life at UF and find a group of friends who all share the same love for the sport.
What do you love about the Tennis on Campus program?
It offers a platform for college students to still play competitive tennis without committing to a full-time varsity program.
What has the experience taught you?
I have learned the importance of finding a group of people you connect with, and the value of staying active and having a sport or hobby which you can use to escape real life from.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
I will be starting my Ph.D. in chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina.
What are your goals for the future?
Get my Ph.D. and keep playing tennis. Besides that, just go with the flow and see what happens.
What advice would you have for high school tennis players and high school athletes, in general, looking to play collegiate athletics?
Regardless of your choice to play for a varsity program or not, you should keep playing the sport throughout your time in college. Everyone has a different situation presented to them but there is always a clear prominent choice as to whether to pursue a college varsity program or take up the sport on your own account at a different university.
About USTA Tennis On Campus
The USTA’s Tennis On Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking, and rivaled competition through tennis without the rigors of a NCAA varsity program. Tennis on Campus offers fun co-ed team-based play (using the World TeamTennis scoring format), regional and national championship competition, and helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Currently the program is offered on more than 500 college campuses. The USTA Tennis on Campus team format features men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles, with a minimum of two men and two women per team.
For more information on the USTA Florida Tennis on Campus series, visit www.ustaflorida.com/TOC.