What is the correct pathway to playing collegiate tennis? Let me start off by saying that this is a bit of a trick question. I don’t believe there is one single path to playing in college. I believe each person’s path might look a little bit different. Taking my personal experience as an example, I gained a passion for tennis in my teens, and had no idea until very late in high school that I might be on a path to playing in college. Others love the sport from a young age and understand very early that college tennis is in his or her future! I also believe that in general, the path might be a little different depending on what NCAA/NAIA division you are aiming for, and what level of college team you hope to play for (and some of you might even have aspirations of playing beyond college)!
With that said, I will suggest pointers to keep in mind in order to give yourself the best opportunity to play college tennis (by no means will this be a comprehensive list). As a starting point, please know that college coaches absolutely love recruits that will represent the team and university well both on and off the court. The college experience is much more than your time on the tennis courts. College will certainly include difficult academic work, many new social settings including playing on a team (which is new for some tennis players), service and volunteer opportunities, leadership opportunities, internships, and more. College coaches and college admissions officers place high value on candidates that demonstrate their ability to represent the school and team well in these areas. You should be doing everything possible during high school to make sure you are a well-rounded candidate. This will give you the best opportunity at tennis scholarships as well as merit-based scholarships.
What does this mean exactly? You should be excelling in classwork, and possibly finding clubs or extracurricular activities or volunteer opportunities in areas that interest you. Tennis wise, you should be a great teammate, a team leader, and play with great sportsmanship. You should build great habits on the court and work hard to improve all phases of your game, including strength and conditioning. This is what will be expected of you in college. Your high school and/or private coach should be able to speak highly of you in these areas to college coaches. If you can demonstrate that you have excellent academics, character, sportsmanship, work ethic, etc., many coaches will value that just as much as a great tennis ranking. These are all things that are easy to say you want to do, but much more difficult to put into practice. These qualities that college coaches are looking for are built on everyday actions; not just when you have an important match.
When it comes down to actually getting recruited, there are also many areas where a player might make a mistake. One major hindrance is quite simply underexposure. In order to truly pursue your dream of playing college tennis, you definitely have to do more than contact a few local schools or use a free website and hope coaches reach out to you. To successfully navigate this once in a lifetime recruiting process, I highly recommend using a trusted service like College Prospects of America (CPOA) to market your skills to College Coaches and help find the perfect school for you.
CPOA has helped student athletes for nearly 30 years stand out from other recruits. If you would like to find out if you are on track in the recruiting process, or have any questions, please leave your comments below or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website, www.cpoaworld.com.
Dream big, keep practicing, and aim for your goals - you never know where you may end up! See you on the court!