Basic Recruiting Information
How do I start the recruiting process?
In terms of starting the process, the earlier the better!
Visit USTA.com/College to discover all of the opportunities college tennis provides.
As early as your freshman year, you should start thinking about your academic and tennis criteria – as well as other criteria for your college experience. See the sample list of questions in the "Choosing a Path That Works for You" section to help you start shaping that list.
It is also important, particularly if you are attending or have attended an online or non-traditional school, that you verify that your school and coursework are approved by the NCAA to meet their initial eligibility standards. ADVERTISEMENT You can find this information through the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Once you have started to narrow your criteria, you can start building the list of schools that you are interested in. From there you can begin contacting the coaches of those teams.
By junior year, you ideally should have a shorter list of schools, preferable categorized by tennis and academic fit, that you are interested in and also have initiated contact with the coaches at those schools. Email is the best way to contact a majority of coaches (See the "Sample Email to a College Tennis Coach" section).
What is more important to a coach, TennisRecruiting.net star ratings or a USTA standings list? And how many matches should I be playing?
Both are great tools for a coach to initially assess a player’s level. But both are just that: tools. Other tools coaches utilize include: Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) rankings.
Coaches are much more interested in players’ results; much more so than the number next to their name – regardless of who publishes that number. They also notice if a player withdraws from tournaments, especially from the backdraws.
A majority of coaches prefer to see someone play more than anything and will make an effort to do so for all the players they are considering seriously. If a coach can’t watch a player, often he or she will request a quick video of some match play. Watching a player play a competitive match can help a coach gauge a player’s talent level, competitiveness, attitude, desire, love of the game and ability to improve much better than looking at a ranking or even looking at results.
In terms of how many matches should a junior play during the year, it depends on a variety of factors such as resources and determining how much is too much without burning out. Players should try to map out a schedule to play 50-70 matches, if possible.
How do I contact the coach at the school I am interested in?
Email is generally the best way to contact a college coach, although we recommend the student, not the parent, initiate the email. NCAA Division I coaches are able to email a prospective student-athlete back following the start of his or her junior year of high school.
Coaches may also be contacted by phone. If you initiate this contact, phone calls may be made at your convenience. Keep in mind, however, that an NCAA Division I coach is unable to provide any recruiting materials, make phone calls or send any form of electronic correspondence (emails, text messages, etc.) until Sept. 1 of your junior year in high school. After this date, there is no limit on the number of phone calls that can be made.
Visit the NCAA Recruiting guides and calendars for more details: http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/recruiting
What do I say in an email to a prospective coach?
In an initial email, a player should introduce himself or herself, indicate his/her graduation year and provide a link to his/her biography. We recommend linking to a player’s FREE bio on the Tennis Recruiting Network. Through this bio, coaches can access a player’s information, such as USTA tournament results, test scores, GPA, intended major, etc. If you do not link to your Tennis Recruiting Network bio, make sure you include that information in your email or in an attachment.
In your email, address the specific coach that you are reaching out to (i.e., "Dear Coach John Smith" or "Coach Smith," not "Dear Coach"). And finally, you should express your interest in the school and ask the coach what other information they would like from you. Most of the time, the introductory email should be short to ensure that the coach does read it. If he/she is interested, he/she will follow up requesting the information needed.
How do I know if the college coach really wants me?
Ask questions about scholarships, playing time and expectations up front. By answering these types of questions, a coach will be giving you a good idea of where you would potentially stand on his/her team.
Once I have narrowed down the list, what is next?
Once you have the list of colleges that meet your academic and tennis criteria, it is time to fill out the applications. Many colleges use the Common Application along with a supplement that is specific to the college.
There is a main essay on the Common Application and usually one or more essays on the supplement. It is important to use these essays to give the admissions officers a real sense of who you are as a person. It is not necessary to write a tennis-oriented essay, although you can if there was a tennis situation that really gives the reader an insight into your personality or values. Make sure you have someone proofread your essay not only for content but for grammar!
Also, there is a part of the Common App entitled, "Additional Information," that you can use to give the admissions officer a complete picture of who you are.
There are different categories of admission decisions:
Early Decision application deadline is usually Nov. 1 and is a binding decision. If you are admitted, you must attend that college. You may only apply to one Early Decision college.
Early Action deadline is usually Nov. 1 also, but it is not a binding decision, so you are not required to attend if you are accepted. Decisions for both Early Decision and Early Action are sent out mid-to-late December.
Early Decision II or Early Action II is usually in January.
Early Evaluation is an informal non-binding “heads up” on your application.
Rolling Admissions means that a number of weeks after you apply you will be notified of the admission decision.
Regular Action applications are due in early January with notifications in late March or early April.
It is important to know the application category and deadline for each college you are considering. Write deadlines down!
How many hours are devoted to playing college tennis?
Playing a college sport is very demanding of an individual’s time. Between travel, practice, matches, strength training and meetings, college athletes’ days are filled with activity.
The NCAA at the Division I level has implemented rules to limit the amount of time a student-athlete is required to participate in his/her sport each week.
During the off-season, this number is eight hours, and during the season, the number is 20 hours. Even though each week may vary in the schedule, at least players know how much time may be blocked out of their schedule.
Other divisions and sometime conferences have similar sets of rules – some are even more strict.
How can I make up classes I miss due to away matches?
While classes are usually not able to be made up, teachers and professors are usually more than willing to work with student-athletes.
The key to balancing the relationship between academics and athletics successfully is communicating with teachers ahead of time. If students let their teachers know that they will be missing classes but would like to make arrangements to complete the work, there is not usually an issue.
Where can I get academic help?
Most institutions have an academic center that is solely for use by their student-athletes and/or one for all students needing additional academic help.
While each school may have different resources, the basics usually include a study center/computer lab and an academic counselor(s). These counselors are in place to help students learn study skills and successfully navigate their way through their courses.
In addition, academic support centers for student-athletes generally hire tutors to assist in studying.
What is the ideal parental involvement in the college tennis recruiting process?
One great thing to remember is that the student, not the parents, will be the one actually attending college and playing on the team. College coaches and recruits forming a solid relationship is key in the recruiting process and hopefully will help the student select the best school for him/her.
In addition, coaches will be impressed with the initiative that the student is showing – something that they are definitely looking for when recruiting student-athletes for their teams.
With all of that in mind, parents should be there to support and guide their children through the process – but not to run the process!
Should a player attend a summer tennis camp on a college campus to be recruited?
Summer camps can be a wonderful opportunity for young players. Taking a break from the individual nature of junior tennis, summer camps allow players to interact with others, spend multiple hours a day practicing, and compete in a team atmosphere that mimics that of college tennis.
It is also a great opportunity for you to start to get a feel for colleges – and their campuses.
However, attending a summer camp should also be something that you want to attend, as coaches rarely use their summer camps for recruiting.
What should parental involvement be once a junior player transitions to college?
Parental support and encouragement is always appreciated by both players and coaches. However, keep in mind that this period of your student’s life is one of much development. He/she is, in essence, becoming an adult throughout the college experience.
Therefore, parents should encourage their children to assume responsibility for both their schedules and their actions. If parents step in and assume too much of a role in assisting their children, they are actually hampering their child’s development.
This is actually a great question for a parent to ask a college coach during the recruiting process. Some have very specific parent policies for their teams.
What should we be doing each year to prepare for college?
Successful college recruitment and decision making takes 100 hours. A prospective student-athlete must take ownership of the process.
- This is a transition year. Start early in looking for the college that fits you best.
- Grades, Grades, Grades! Every year counts, and the top academic schools want strong RIGOR and a good balance of classes all four years.
- Clearly understand the NCAA core classes for DI and DII.
- Be professional when using social media, email and voicemail.
- Plan your tournaments wisely, and play at least 25 matches per year, especially to start building up your UTR.
- Keep your TennisRecruiting.net profile updated each year.
- Understand the NCAA rules (visit the links at the top of this page).
- Grades, Grades, Grades! Every year counts!
- Meet with your coach and college advisor and explain the attributes you want for the college of your choice and make a list of 25 colleges that really appeal to you.
- Take the PSAT.
- Follow the teams where you can realistically play, and keep an eye on openings and possible scholarships. Visit the schools' team pages on MyUTR.com to learn what levels of players are on the rosters.
- Start to prepare for the SAT/ACT. If you want to achieve a good score, you will need 100 hours of preparation.
- Look into financial aid options. Start with FAFSA and collegeboard.org.
- Create an athletic resume and post it online.
- Set up a meeting with your coach to work on your tournament schedule, and continue to talk about college tennis options.
- Visit local colleges to gain an understanding for college campuses, facilities and the tennis teams.
- Rewrite the list of important elements in your college selection.
- Take the PSAT, schedule your SAT/ACT dates and continue to study for these standardized tests.
- In November, start to have weekly meetings with your college advisor.
- Create a college video that is no longer than 5 minutes, and post it online.
- Ask your registrar for an unofficial copy of your transcript so you can send it to coaches.
- In January, write a four- to six-line email and send it to 40-50 coaches stating your interest in their college and the athletic team.
- Start taking unofficial visits.
- Participate in college admissions visits to your high school.
- Determine the number of credits needed for graduation & choose solid RIGOR for your senior year.
- Set up phone calls with college coaches that are interested. In this process you are trying to build a relationship with the coaching staff.
- Set up a meeting with your coach before summer to make sure you have the schedule you need for the best possible exposure.
- Update your profile and make a new college video if necessary.
- Continue to research and contact college coaches.
- Fill out the common application.
- Write your college essays (this can be done in the summer too).
- Retake the SAT/ACT if necessary.
- Take official and unofficial visits.
- Identify and confirm teachers who will write you a letter of recommendation.
- Organize in advance to have your transcripts sent to colleges.
- Fill out college applications (Early Decision and Early Action is November 1 and Regular Decision is January 1. There are exceptions to these dates!).
- Determine which schools are the best fit and start to narrow your list.
- Start to review scholarship options with your family, coach and college advisor.
- Make your decision! Notify and thank the coaches and colleges where you visited.
- Graduate! Keep up your grades and continue to train and play tournaments.