With over 900 women’s college tennis programs nationwide, there are plenty of opportunities for high school players to take a step up to participate at the collegiate level. Factors for considering women’s tennis colleges include the performance level on the court, the GPA and ACT scores, and the size of the women’s tennis college the student-athlete prefers to attend.
There are 938 women’s tennis colleges throughout the NCAA Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
Division 1 women’s tennis colleges, particularly the elite programs such as UCLA and Florida, focus on recruiting internationally, as well as throughout the United States. These are schools with budgets larger than numerous other D1 university programs and will attract the best women’s tennis amateurs in filling a roster. The NCAA allows D1 coaches to offer the equivalent of 4.5 scholarships. Scholarship awards are normally ‘partial’ awards, meaning only a portion of the education cost (tuition, books, room, meals, etc.) will be covered. By awarding partial scholarships, coaches can offer awards to more players on a roster.
The competition for scholarships at the NCAA Division 1 level for women’s college tennis teams creates a trickle-down effect in D2 women’s tennis colleges. Many student-athletes at women’s Division 2 tennis colleges can compete at the D1 level, and there are a variety of reasons they aren’t given the opportunity:
Then again, the student-athlete may not want to attend a larger university and decides a smaller D2 women’s tennis program is the way to go. The best Division 2 women’s tennis colleges include Rollins College and Bentley University.
Attending a Division 3 women’s tennis college has benefits not available at the D1 or D2 levels of competition. It’s possible most of the women’s tennis talent could attend a D3 school, but for the most part D3 players are interested in playing tennis at the collegiate level as one part of their overall college experience. Whereas, NCAA D1 and D2 level players are expected to practice, condition and train as if tennis is a full-time job. D3 tennis school participants will have more time to take part in other campus experiences and activities. The best Division 3 colleges for women’s tennis teams are Emory, M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins University.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) women’s tennis colleges operate under a different set of recruiting guidelines than the NCAA schools do. The NAIA allows for earlier recruiting, which resembles the NCAA D3 recruiting process. The difference for the NAIA women’s tennis colleges is the ability to offer athletic scholarships. Another advantage for student-athletes looking to play NAIA tennis is that these schools have smaller enrollment figures, which translates into smaller class size. The time commitment to the sport is generally less than a D1 school which allows a student-athlete an opportunity to become involved with academic and other non-athletic campus activities. Asbury University and Taylor University are two of the top overall NAIA tennis colleges.
The NJCAA level offers women’s tennis players with GPAs and ACT scores too low to qualify for enrollment at a NCAA or NAIA women’s tennis college to continue playing the sport while improving on grades. The two-year NJCAA tennis schools do offer scholarships and the coaches work diligently to see student-athletes improve grades and tennis skills in order to transfer to a NCAA or NAIA women’s tennis college.
Below are the NCSA women’s tennis Power Rankings that take much more into account than just matches won or lost.
The NCSA rankings aren’t just about successful women’s tennis programs. Additional factors are considered in providing future student-athletes with pertinent information to determine the most rewarding college choice for them. Education costs, including cost after financial aid considerations, and differences in college divisions are part of this ranking system.