Ran Amar

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Anyone who’s been a student-athlete, especially at the Division I level, can appreciate the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to succeed.

The physical training, early-morning workouts, and balancing school and athletics can be overwhelming. Many student-athletes throughout the years, if only jokingly, have compared their strenuous and disciplinary schedules to being in the military or a boot camp.

Ran Amar, having served in the Israeli army for three years after high school, knows there’s a clear distinction.

“I was born in Israel, and the State of Israel requires everyone above the age of 18 to serve in the military,” Amar said.

“Tennis has been a passion of mine since I was just a little boy and watched my older brother play, but I couldn’t continue my tennis career upon graduating from high school. I first had to serve my country.”

In countries that don’t require military service for their citizens, it’d be easy to look at Amar’s situation as a setback, but Amar doesn’t see it that way. He was happy to serve and gain valuable opportunities and experiences from his service.

“My time in the military taught me so many life lessons,” said Amar. “It taught me to be more patient, disciplined, and most of all, mature. I’ve been able to take all of those attributes with me to the tennis court.”

“While I had to wait a few more years to continue my tennis career, I wouldn’t be the player I am now without my military service.”

As a tennis player and junior for University of the Pacific, Amar came to the United States as an older and more mature student-athlete than many of his peers, which has certainly given him an advantage both on and off the court during his collegiate career.

A true balancing act

While no one is disputing the tremendous balancing act of school and athletics as a DI student-athlete, it pales in comparison to serving in the military and simultaneously training for tennis.

“Once I graduated from high school, I was fortunate to receive permission to continue playing tennis professionally,” said Amar. “I was ranked high enough nationally that they allowed me to continue to train and play in tournaments, which I was incredibly grateful for.”

While he had an enormous amount of gratitude, it was far from easy. He’d often spend up to seven hours a day performing his service duties before heading to practice.

“It was exhausting trying to do both at times,” said Amar. “But after a while, I got used to it. I was passionate about both ventures, so it was all about giving everything I had to both, to the best of my abilities.”

Upon completion of his military service, he looked forward to the immense opportunities ahead of him, including coming to the United States to continue his tennis career.

It was exhausting trying to do both at times. But after a while, I got used to it. I was passionate about both ventures, so it was all about giving everything I had to both, to the best of my abilities.

Familiarity and growth

Amar knew playing tennis collegiately in the United States would come with its fair set of challenges. Most notably, he was worried about the culture shock and language barrier, but he was put at ease early in the recruiting process.

“A major reason I enrolled at Pacific was the influence of the volunteer assistant coach,” said Amar. “He’s also Israeli, so I knew by coming to Pacific, I’d have at least one person that knows what it’s like to come to America from Israel.”

Once he arrived at Pacific, he enjoyed the familiarity of speaking with his volunteer coach in Hebrew. But he also looked forward to practicing his English to better speak the language.

“My English was very rough when I first got here,” said Amar. “It was frustrating because I didn’t feel like I could properly express myself and display my personality.”

“But my teammates and coaches were so patient with me. I kept improving my English over time through their understanding and encouragement, and I give a lot of credit to them for speaking English quite fluently now.”

Valuable life experience

For many incoming freshmen, college is one of the first big tests in their lives. It’s the first time being away from their family and experiencing life for themselves.

In Amar’s case, he already had that real-world experience by serving in the military for three years, which gave him a leg-up when he arrived on campus as a ripe 21-year-old.

In addition to that, Amar learned how to be independent from an even earlier age.

When he was just 12 years old, Amar spent most of his weeks away from home to further develop his tennis game. He moved from the south of Israel to the center of Israel in order to practice with some of Israel’s top talent and take his skills to the next level.

Being away from family throughout most of his teenage years added another layer of maturity and growth to Amar’s personality.

“Almost all of my freshmen classmates were 18 years old, and I’m not saying I was more mature than them, but I had a little more life experience than many of them,” said Amar.

“My time in the military, for example, taught me how to handle high-pressure situations, which helped me out quite a bit at Pacific, too, as I was dealing with the stress of balancing academics and tennis, learning a new language, and meeting new people.”

Managing time is also a key lesson student-athletes learn during their freshman year, which Amar was already well familiar with. He believes the time management skills he picked up in the military have done wonders for him at Pacific.

“Between the classroom, sports, and social life, sometimes it feels like you have to be everywhere at once as a student-athlete,” said Amar. “But the military prepared me for that by managing my time effectively and focusing on the tasks at hand.”

Whether it’s studying for a major exam or preparing for a pivotal tournament, it’s clear the maturity and life experience he obtained during his military days have served him well both in and out of the classroom at Pacific.

Focused on tomorrow

While it’s difficult for Amar to be so far from home, he knows that no one is able to live out their dreams without making sacrifices along the way.

His parents hope to make the trip over to America once he graduates. Until then, he plans to continue making them proud as he ponders his future in tennis.

“Once I graduate, I wouldn’t say I have immediate plans as of this moment,” said Amar. “Whether I stay in America or go back home to Israel kind of depends on how far I can take my tennis career as a professional.”

“I try not to look too far ahead. I’ve always taken things day by day and remain focused on tomorrow.”

Regardless of his future plans after Pacific, he’s already achieved so much. By coming to a new country, learning a new language, and receiving a high-quality education, he has set himself up for success for the rest of his life.

Whenever he serves his last tennis shot, it’s evident that the skills, opportunities, and experiences he’s gained in the military and at Pacific will extend far beyond the tennis court.