College tennis recruiting attracts talent from all over the U.S. and internationally. Earning a roster spot at one of the 900+ colleges offering men’s tennis programs is no easy feat. Finding a men’s tennis program which fits the player’s skill level can be a bit daunting, but with proper research, student-athletes can find programs that meet their needs and match their level of play. The process doesn’t stop there. Recruits need to know how to market themselves to programs that they are most interested in. What exactly do we mean by marketing a recruit? Our guide to men’s college tennis recruiting walks recruits and their families through each step of the college recruiting process, from building a recruiting profile to receiving an athletic scholarship offer and everything in between.
Given the changing landscape of tennis recruiting during COVID-19, it’s essential that prospective recruits who hope to compete in college tennis keep up with new developments, including NCAA tennis COVID-19 rule updates, college tennis breaking news and more. Check out the video below to hear from two NCSA recruiting experts, former D1 tennis player Heather Gage and former D1 swimmer Danny Koenig, on how tennis players can continue to practice and (safely) improve their skills, adjustments to the tennis recruiting timeline and more!
Each year, the NCAA releases a set of recruiting rules and a calendar that establish when and how college coaches and student-athletes can engage throughout the recruiting process. After a 2017 NCAA survey revealed college coaches across various sports had been contacting and extending verbal offers to athletes as early as freshman year, the association made significant changes to the recruiting rules. These new rules are meant to support and maintain a positive recruiting experience for all parties involved.
NCAA and NAIA college coaches search for both American and international student-athletes during the recruiting process. As a result, the fight for a roster spot and an athletic scholarship package is extremely competitive. Recruits who are set on playing college tennis need to study up on what college coaches are searching for in potential recruits, including tennis rankings, competition experience and physical advantages. These criteria vary from division to division, so we’ve created a section that outlines what skills make a recruit stand out to college coaches at each level.
Fully funded Division 1 and Division 2 NCAA tennis programs have a maximum of 4.5 full-ride equivalent scholarships to award to recruits and current roster holders each year. But not all programs are fully funded, which means college coaches may have fewer scholarships to award. This makes it very unlikely for a recruit to receive a full-ride tennis scholarship unless the recruit is an international athlete, in which case college coaches may be willing to award a full-ride scholarship as an incentive to compete in the U.S. At the Division 3 level and Ivy League schools, athletic scholarships are not available; only merit-based scholarships are awarded to student-athletes with a strong GPA and test scores.
To make a college tennis roster, recruits must be proactive during the college recruiting process. The process starts with researching college tennis programs to identify a list of reach, target and safety schools. Then it’s time to build a recruiting profile and capture footage for a recruiting video. Starting June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year when communication is permitted between coaches and athletes, recruits need to focus on building relationships with college coaches at their target schools. Throughout the entire process, recruits should be competing and ranking well in tournaments and keeping up with the NCAA academic eligibility requirements. Visit our section on how to get recruited by college tennis coaches for a more detailed look at each of these recruiting steps.
Even if a college coach is unable to watch a recruit compete in person, they are still able to evaluate the athlete by watching a recruiting video. This video lives on the athlete’s recruiting profile where college coaches can easily access it while searching a recruiting database. For many athletes, this will be a college coach’s first introduction to their skillset, so it’s important to highlight what college coaches are looking for in an athlete. In this section, we provide tips on how to create a strong recruiting video that will catch college coaches’ attention.
Because of COVID-19, tennis coaches are spending more time at home rather than getting on the road to visit prospects and evaluate them at events. But when tennis coaches can’t take part in in-person recruiting, that also means they have more time to stay home and analyze recruiting videos. Even though it can be hard to get fresh footage without playing in matches, there are still things athletes can do to get noticed. That’s why NCSA recruiting expert and former D1 tennis player Heather Gage shared some tips for how to get creative with video footage.
Recruits can increase their exposure to college coaches by attending tennis tournaments and camps. These events offer recruits the opportunity to develop aspects of their game and interact with college coaches. It’s also important for recruits to compete in tournaments to work on improving their tennis ranking, which college coaches consider during the recruiting process. In this section, we include a list of college tennis camps and tournaments near you that will fit your needs.
What college tennis program is right for a recruit? It takes a great deal of research to identify a list of reach, target and safety schools that meet the athletic, academic, social and financial needs of a recruit and their family. With more than 900 colleges offering men’s tennis programs across the U.S., this task can be daunting, so we’ve created a section that allows recruits to search the complete list of colleges with men’s tennis programs.
We aim to provide an extensive recruiting guide for men’s college tennis, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t additional resources that recruits can and should reference during the college recruiting process. Websites such as USTA.com, collegetennisonline.com and wearecollegetennis.com provide insight into collegiate tennis.
To find a list of top men’s college tennis teams, NCSA’s Power Rankings and the NCAA’s website are both great resources. We developed this best colleges list to help student-athletes find the right college fit. We analyzed schools based on size, cost, location, academics and more, using resources such as U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, 2017 IPEDS graduation rates and 2017 IPEDS institutional net cost.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.