Some college athletes who sit out a year insist the experience is not at all pleasant.
Then there are guys like Kansas tennis player Carlos Fleming.
"I'd like people to know what taking a year off can do for you," said Fleming, a fourth-year KU junior who redshirted last season.
In his return to collegiate tennis, the Shaker Heights, Ohio, native hammered South Florida's Jamie Benefield, 6-1, 6-2, Friday night at Alvamar.
As a team, KU upended South Florida, 6-3.
"It can be a great experience. Having an extra year, I feel like I'm a man among boys," Fleming said. "It was one of those things where I missed playing, but I enjoyed college life for a year.
"MOST ATHLETES don't get a chance to experience college life. It all goes by so fast. I put all my efforts in a lot of areas, whether academics, student government, working on my game, going out more with friends.
"It would be scary if this was my senior year. My college years would have gone by too fast."
Fleming made fast work of Benefield at No. 4 singles.
"It feels good to come back and play at home," said Fleming, who did play competitively last summer. "It's nice to win like that, but sometimes when it's a close match, it's more exciting. I've been in matches where it's 7-6 in the third (set)."
Fleming lately has noticed a difference in his attitude.
"I'm a little older, more mature," he said. "Before, I liked the glitz. Now I just like to play."
FLEMING DIDN'T loaf in his time off.
"I worked in the weight room and on conditioning," he said. "And I worked on my strokes."
He's played many different roles at KU.
"My freshman year I was anywhere from No. 4 to 6," he said. "At one point, I was No. 1. I was No. 3. I was down to 5. The guys have always been so close (in ability).
"There's never been a real standout player, except John Falbo. He was a great player. Tonight I think you could have flip-flopped the lineup. We're all that close."
Also on Friday, KU's No. 1 player, senior Rafael Rangel, dropped South Florida's Arne Raabe, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3). Rangel stormed back from a 5-2 deficit in the second set.
"I'd rather win easily," said Rangel, a native of Monterrey, Mexico. "I was not too smooth at first. I had butterflies all over the place."
It's actually tough playing in front of the home crowd, Rangel said.
"I'D RATHER play in front of a bunch of people I don't know," he said. "You're looser."
He enjoys playing No. 1. "There's less pressure than at No. 6," he said. "At No. 1, the worst thing can happen is you drop to 2, 3 or 4. At No. 6, you wonder if you'll be in there."
KU won five of six singles matches. Paul Garvin won at No. 3, Rhain Buth at No. 5 and Manny Ortiz at No. 6. KU won just one of three doubles matches.
"I was very pleased we could win the match in the singles," said KU coach Scott Perelman, whose team will face Indiana at 5 p.m. today at Alvamar. "The crowd was a major asset. They really got into the match and made a lot of noise."