Recruiting 101: How do I let a coach know I want to play college tennis?

One of the biggest mistake players make during the recruiting process is presuming too much.

Don't presume a coach knows who you are;

Don't presume that you are too good/not good enough to play at a school;

Don't presume a coach does/doesn't have a scholarship for you.

College coaches begin looking at tennis recruits as early as their freshman year of high school. They will send out basic materials and follow players on sites like College And Junior Tennis, Tennis Recruiting and Zoo Tennis. But just because a coach hasn't contacted you that doesn't mean the coach isn't interested.

Keeping up with everything that's going on in the junior tennis and high school tennis world is an impossibility. Coaches do work hard at it, but it's very easy to miss a player and that doesn't mean the player isn't good. Don't sit around sulking because the coaches haven't come to you, contact them.

No one expects a freshman in high school to make a decision on where they want to go to college, however,  you can start doing some basic thinking about it.  Just like coaches follow the sites mentioned above to get an idea about you, you should follow them to see where the best teams are. More important, find out where the best teams for you are. Try to be honest about where you fit in.  If you are ranked 150 in your section, expecting to go to a top 10 NCAA Division I school is pretty impractical. You can aim a little higher than your current ranking as a goal to get your game up, but be practical.

The first step is to contact the coach. College Sports Connect offers coaches contact information and you will find even more specific listings on College Tennis Connect. (You can also get this information on the school's website if you dig around the tennis page.) Send the coach an email introducing yourself with some basic information about your ranking, some of your best wins and your upcoming schedule. If the coach has an interest, he/she will get back to you and keep contact.  If the coach feels like you are really not a fit, you will hear that too. There is too much to be done in the recruiting process for anyone to waste time on a match that isn't going to work for both parties.

If you do keep a dialogue going with a coach -- or coaches, there's nothing wrong with talking to a few at the same time -- let him/her know early on if you are looking for a scholarship. It's also good to mention an approximate idea of your financial situation and academic position. If it is possible to get you the money you need without delving into the precious few available athletic scholarships, that's the best option for everyone.

The most important thing in the recruiting process is starting the communication process early and keeping it going. Senior year comes before you know it and that is the time to finish the process, not start it.

If you are interested in playing college tennis, check out my Monthly Guides to College Tennis Planning...

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