San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Student to NCAA Sport

WHILE just about every Country DaySchool graduate continues to college, fewdo so while playing sports for a NCAA university.In the fall, Nigel Barton, 18, will attendTulane University in New Orleans, La. andwill play tennis for the team, which is currentlyranked 18 in the nation.“I’m a little nervous going into the tennisprogram because they have such a highrecord,” he said.Barton isn’t used to playingtennis for school –Country Day, a college preparatoryschool located inEscazú, southwest of SanJosé, has soccer, basketballand volleyball teams thatcompete in Costa Rica andthroughout Central America,but no tennis team.“What’s good aboutNigel is he’s been able tobalance a very demanding academic programwith many, many hours a day practicingtennis,” said the school’s principal,Kevin Glass.BARTON trains about two hours a day,five-to-six days a week.“It’s kind of hectic because I go toschool, go to practice, come home andstudy,” he said.Barton started playing tennis at age 4when his father started taking him to theCosta Rica Country Club.“I played with my dad for about eight ornine years and I also joined clinicas andplayed with other kids,” Barton said.Although he played other sports, likebasketball, throughout his childhood andteen years, tennis was always his “main”sport.At 16, he moved to Florida to train for ayear with his younger brother, Geoffrey, now16. There, they shared an apartment withseven other tennis players where they weresupervised by coaches instead of parents.They also attended a local high school and,of course, practiced tennis – four hours a day.But academics have also played a bigrole in Barton’s life.THIS year, Bartontook four AdvancedPlacement (AP) classes,which are the high schoolequivalent of acollege class. Dependingon his score on theAP tests, Tulane willgive him college creditfor the classes.He has already beenexempt from taking anyforeign-language classes at Tulane afterscoring a five, the highest score possible, onhis AP Spanish test. Barton added he is notnervous about the academics part of universitylife in the United States – Country Dayprepared him well.And although he does have personalconnections to Tulane – it was the sport thatultimately led him to choose the Louisianauniversity.“I knew I wanted to be in the south andmy grandmother is a Tulane graduate,” hesaid. “I looked at a few other schools whichwere good academically, but the tennis atTulane was far superior.”

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