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2021–22 NCAA Women’s Tennis Recruiting Rules and Calendar

Each year, the NCAA reviews the recruiting rules and the calendar that governs the college recruiting process for coaches and student-athletes and makes updates, if necessary. In 2019, the NCAA made significant changes to these rules and calendar after Division 1 athletes reported in a 2017 NCAA survey that early recruiting had become a trend across various sports. This page details the new NCAA tennis recruiting rules and calendar and explains how they affect the recruiting process.

READ MORE: NCAA’s new rules will grant student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

How to use the recruiting rules and calendar in your recruiting 

Before June 15 of a recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches will attend competitions and review the recruit’s NCSA Recruiting Profile to evaluate her talent. Below is a look at the tennis recruiting process from early recruiting to National Signing Day.

  1. Early recruiting: College coaches don’t wait until contact is permitted by the NCAA to start the recruiting process. Prior to June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches spend their time attending tournaments, college camps and showcases to evaluate athletes. They will also search recruiting databases, like NCSA, to watch highlight video and review athlete stats. Based on their evaluations, coaches will build a list of potential recruits. Once they have this list, college coaches will also connect with high school and club coaches to express interest in a recruit.
  2. Contact and verbal offers: When can college coaches make you an offer?Starting June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches can begin contacting recruits and extending verbal offers.
  3. Official and unofficial visits: The NCAA rules and calendar are designed to give athletes and coaches one and a half months to build relationships before scheduling official and unofficial visits. Starting August 1 of the athlete’s junior year, recruits and coaches are free to schedule official and unofficial visits to discuss recruiting on campus.
  4. National Signing Day: The women’s tennis signing period runs for a 10-month span, which starts on National Signing Day. During this period, recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to officially accept their athletic scholarship. To view all of the signing dates, visit the NLI website.

National Signing Day: November 11, 2021

Final signing date: August 1, 2022

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When does college tennis recruiting season start?

While college coaches must wait until June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year to make contact via phone and online, coaches are known to recruit athletes as early as 8th grade. What exactly does this mean? Prior to June 15, college coaches search recruiting databases and attend tennis competitions to evaluate talent and build a list of potential recruits. While recruits may not know a coach is interested in them until the first date of contact, they should be proactive in the recruiting process and create an NCSA Recruiting Profile and highlight video for coaches to evaluate before then. It’s also important to build a list of target schools and attend camps and tournaments where college coaches are present.

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When can college tennis coaches start contacting recruits?

NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 college coaches are prohibited from contacting student-athletes until after June 15 of their sophomore year. Once contact is permitted, college tennis coaches can reach out to recruits via phone, text and email. Some college coaches will contact a recruit’s high school and club coaches prior to June 15 of the recruit’s sophomore year to gather general feedback, but they are prohibited from discussing financial offers, recruiting statements, etc. At the Division 3 level, college coaches are permitted to communicate with recruits via digital communication at any time. 

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New NCAA rules for women’s tennis

A 2017 NCAA survey asked more than 15,000 Division 1 student-athletes to provide feedback on their college recruiting experience. While 68% of women’s tennis respondents reported their first recruiting contact was after sophomore year, the survey revealed that early recruiting had become a trend across multiple sports. As a result of these findings, the NCAA re-evaluated the recruiting rules. In May 2019, new NCAA recruiting rules for tennis were released that separated the start date for college coaches to begin contacting recruits and when recruits can begin visiting college campuses. The NCAA made these changes to establish a designated time for coaches and athletes to build a relationship through off-campus communication before the student-athlete’s official campus visit.

College coaches now must wait to contact or respond to recruits until June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year. Starting August 1, recruits can schedule unofficial and official visits.

Read more about the new NCAA recruiting rules and calendar. 

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NCAA Division 1 tennis recruiting rules 

The NCAA has established a set of strict recruiting rules that Division 1 programs must follow. These rules vary from sport to sport, but the below are specific to women’s tennis:

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NCAA Division 2 tennis recruiting rules

The NCAA Division 2 recruiting rules are less restrictive than Division 1 rules and are followed by all sports.

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Division 3 tennis recruiting rules 

NCAA Division 3 sponsored sports follow the most relaxed recruiting rules. These rules apply to all Division 3 programs.

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NAIA tennis recruiting rules

The NAIA enforces fewer recruiting rules than the NCAA, which allows these coaches to contact recruits without restriction. With that said, NAIA coaches typically wait until after NCAA programs have filled their roster to begin their recruiting process, as these programs focus on recruiting athletes who were passed up by NCAA programs. NAIA coaches prioritize well-rounded recruits that are more than just a good fit athletically, but also socially and academically.

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When are college coaches allowed to make you an offer? 

Starting June 15 after the recruit’s sophomore year, college coaches can begin making verbal offers. Recruits are invited to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) starting on National Signing Day during their senior year to officially accept an athletic scholarship.

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When is National Signing Day for tennis? 

To officially accept a scholarship offer at one of the more than 650 NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 programs that use the National Letter of Intent (NLI), recruits are asked to sign this binding agreement that guarantees their athletic scholarship for one year and serves as the official end to their recruiting process. Visit the National Letter of Intent website to learn when National Signing Day is each year.

National Signing Day: Nov. 11, 2021

Final signing date: Aug. 1, 2022

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International athlete recruiting process

When it comes to international recruiting, coaches and athletes must follow a different set of recruiting rules that vary from country to country. International recruits also face a few challenges in the recruiting process, such as translating academic results into the American format, taking the required American standardized tests and applying for a student visa. Visit the NCAA website to review the NCAA Guide to International Academic Standards for Athletic Eligibility, visit the NCAA website

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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.

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