College Recruiting Tips for Serious Tennis Players
Do you really love playing tennis and can’t imagine your life without playing it? Everyone’s goals are slightly different when it comes to the sport of their choice, but a popular one is a desire to play varsity tennis at the college level.
Young tennis players always want to know what they can be doing to put themselves in the best possible position to get recruited when the time is right. So, we thought it would be helpful to provide a general timeline on what you should be doing throughout high school, from freshman year to senior year.
Whenever a freshman in high school asks what they should be doing to help their future, there are always three things we mention specifically:
- Keep developing and improving your game on the court.
- Make sure you keep your grades up.
- Spend some time being a kid!
Even if a student-athlete at the age of 14 or 15 is thinking about playing college tennis, it’s important to realize that it’s still rather far in the future. Indeed, it will come much faster than anyone realizes, but there will also be a lot of growth between this time and being on the verge of going to college.
Some may say that other years are more important – whether it’s from an academic or athletic standpoint – but the reality is that they’re all important and should be treated as such. You can’t build a great house without a solid foundation, so think of your freshman year in this way.
This is when you can start to do a little more forward-thinking with regard to your future in tennis. If you’ve come to the conclusion that playing tennis in college is something that you absolutely want to do no matter what, then there are a few things you can do!
- Start creating a list of tennis programs that you have an interest in.
- Investigate these schools beyond tennis to make sure they’re interesting to you from an academic and social standpoint, as well.
- Make a standardized testing plan that involves taking either a practice SAT or ACT.
- Register with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Center.
Some student-athletes may want to start reaching out to coaches at this point but remember that you still have a lot of growing to do – the player you are today will most likely not be the player you will be in a year or two. It’s perfectly fine to wait as you continue developing.
This is the point in your high school career when the idea of playing college tennis actually becomes realistic. If you’re a top recruit, Division I and Division II coaches are now allowed to start initiating contact with players they’re interested in. If there are certain schools you’d like to explore that you haven’t gotten contact from, here’s what you can do:
- Contact coaches via email or phone.
- Try to find showcases you can attend where there will be schools in attendance that you’re interested in.
- Stay in touch with coaches who have expressed interest in you and keep them in the loop with regard to your schedule.
- If you’re able to, make unofficial visits to colleges.
Time is of the essence once you get to your senior year, but there’s still time to find a college tennis program that fits your needs (along with a college that makes sense for you on all other levels). If you’re still unsure of what you’re looking for, there’s nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board:
- What’s your level of play? What schools make sense from an athlete and academic perspective?
- Do the schools on your short list have the academic programs you’re looking for?
- How much of a role will financial aid play into your decision?
- What are you looking for in a coach? Do they still have open roster spots at this point in the process?
We hope this helps you on your journey to playing college tennis. Above all else, remember that you should be having fun throughout this process!