College Tennis Spotlight: The Five Myths of College Recruiting

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1. Junior players should write long e-mails to college coaches
From the player’s perspective, he/she wants to introduce themselves to their prospective coach, and nowadays, it seems that e-mail is the easiest way to communicate with coaches. Long e-mails are considered more than three paragraphs.

The reality is that coaches are extremely busy, therefore, a short introductory e-mail is best with pertinent information, including name, rankings, GPA and SAT scores. After a month or so, then follow up with another e-mail. Then wait and see if you get a response. Keep in mind that many coaches are receiving in upwards of 50 e-mails per week from potential recruits.

2. Junior players need to focus on their rankings more than developing an all-court game
Many times, the top juniors focus so much of their energy attaining rankings believing the college coach is always looking for the highest ranked player. The truth is that coaches want players who are able to win in singles as well as doubles. Most college coaches want players who can play the net and have the ability to serve and volley. But most personal coaches, parents and players are too focused on the “win now” mentality, believing that the college coach only uses rankings as an indicator. Overall, college coaches take many variables into account when deciding on who they want to recruit.

3. Receiving a scholarship does not always indicate a full scholarship
Many times, juniors hear that a particular player received a scholarship to a particular university and the assumption is that it is a full scholarship. For Men's Division I, the scholarship allotment is 4.5, which means that the coach usually divides that amount amongst the players on the team. But since there are usually eight players, each player receives a different amount; usually based on the number they play on the team. For Women's Division I with eight full scholarships, the scholarships cannot be divided!

4. The most important ranking criteria is the USTA ranking, Tennis Recruiting, or ITF ranking?
One of the most important parts of the recruiting process is the ranking. Obviously, the ranking serves as a baseline measurement to a players ability. But is one ranking more important than another? When evaluating a player, the most valuable area is who the player beat and when they beat them. Some players play great locally but struggle nationally, while others thrive when they are playing away from home. All of these factors are taken into consideration when recruiting a certain player. In addition, players who play in ITF events will give the coach another variable that will help in the recruiting process. Overall, all three types of rankings are used by the college coach in the recruiting process.

5. Junior players should not play on their high school team if there are conflicts with sectional, national or international tournaments.
College coaches like players to play for their high school team to understand how the team dynamic works. Tennis is an individual sport, but in college, the team is where a player spends the most time and teams that come together are more likely to succeed than a bunch of individuals. When the match is on the line, you want your teammate to fight for that point just as much as you would. The camaraderie that is established in a team environment is essential for all players to learn as early as possible. If a conflict occurs, try to work it out with the school so that not only is the player helping the team, but the school is helping the player succeed off the court.