EXETER Tennis Centre's Howard Scott is heading to America to pursue his dream of becoming a professional tennis player.
The 18-year-old from Newton St Cyres has accepted an offer of a tennis scholarship from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, where he will also study business administration.
Scott will spend four years in the States, where he hopes to emulate the likes of British doubles specialists Dominic Inglot and Ken Skupski, who also crossed the Atlantic to combine tennis and university.
John McEnroe – winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles – and current world No. 13 John Isner are amongst other high-profile names to have passed through the American university system, and while Scott is not quite anticipating that level of success, he hopes the move will lead to a career in the sport.
"The ultimate aim is to get to the point where I can earn a living on the tennis court," said Scott, currently ranked No.2 in the Devon men's rankings.
"I know I am never going to be the No.1 in the world, but I do think I can make a living from tennis.
"Also, I can get a degree as a back-up plan and hopefully earn a living for a few years on the tour before having to go out into the real world, so to speak."
The move brings to an end a busy period for Ashburton-born Scott, who started applying for places in America almost a year ago after enlisting the help of Sarah Borwell – a British professional tennis player who studied at the University of Houston.
Borwell now helps young players like Scott make the move to the States to further their tennis careers while also gaining academic qualifications.
And Scott feels the former doubles world No.67 has played a crucial role in securing his place in Wisconsin.
"It all started around March or April last year," Scott explained. "I got in touch with Sarah, who runs her own business putting young tennis players in touch with American universities, and she helped me sort it out.
"She studied out in the States as well and played in some Grand Slams as a player, and was really helpful in getting my application out there.
"There was a lot to go through and it's a fairly long and drawn-out process. I had to build up a sort of tennis CV.
"I remember the first time Sarah sent it out, I woke up the next morning and had about 12 offers or so, which was a surprise.
"I chose Green Bay though because it just looked the best for me, the coach really convinced me plus there are already some other Brits out there too."
Achievements on that CV include a second place at the AEGON British Tour Tier Two event in Swansea in November, where he lost to Exeter hitting partner Jack Findel-Hawkins.
That helped Scott secure a place at the Masters, where the top 32 men of the British tour face off, although he went out in the first round.
Such experience will stand him in good stead, as he is likely to find himself busy once classes begin.
Lectures will have to be squeezed around more than two hours of tennis a day, as well as an additional hour of fitness and conditioning training.
There will also be tournaments for Scott to play in, but an intense training regime with LTA performance coach Will McNally has left him well prepared.
"I have been training full-time at the university (in Exeter) with my coach Will McNally to get myself ready for going out there," said Scott, who lists Tim Henman as the player he most admires.
"I've also just completed a three-week fitness block and am about to start hitting again. It was a sort of pre-season with no hitting at all, but I'm back to hitting now and feel ready to play again."