College Tennis Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the world of college tennis recruiting and give some of the tips and tricks to help you market yourself to colleges and universities to better your chances of attaining a scholarship.

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Paying for a college or university education is more expensive than it has ever been. There are a range of options out there to help you pay for it--from student loans to government grants. But for the hard working and athletically gifted, another option may be possible: the athletic scholarship.

Each sport and each school has its own process when it comes to doling out athletic scholarships, and in this lesson, we will explore the processes and prospects of getting an athletic scholarship in tennis.

Basics

Tennis is an incredibly competitive sport internationally, though it is less popular as a spectator sport in the United States than elsewhere. That said, there are still hundreds of universities and colleges that offer athletic scholarships to skilled tennis players. The vast majority of colleges and universities in the U.S. compete under the governing body, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA divides schools with competitive tennis teams into three divisions based on a range of factors including school size and level of competitiveness. Overall, there are more women's tennis programs than men's. The breakdown is below:

  • Division I: 263 men's teams, 320 women's teams
  • Division II: 161 men's teams, 212 women's teams
  • Division III: 314 men's teams, 361 women's teams

There are far fewer scholarships available to women than to men. For men, Division I and Division II schools can offer 4.5 scholarships to top tennis players. For women, Division I schools can offer 8 scholarships while Division II schools can offer up to 6. According to NCAA rules, Division III schools, in either men's or women's tennis (or in any sport, for that matter), cannot offer athletic scholarships.

Though the NCAA is by far the largest, there are other organizations with schools that offer scholarships to tennis players. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has 92 schools that offer men's tennis scholarships and 110 schools that offer scholarships to women. In general, NAIA schools tend to have lower admissions standards than NCAA schools, so if you are a student who struggles in the classroom, this may be a viable option for you.

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) also has 141 schools that offer women's scholarships in tennis and 120 men's tennis programs. As its name suggests, these tend to be community colleges and junior colleges and only offer students two years of playing eligibility. Many students who decide to go this route use an NJCAA scholarship as a stepping stone to a larger program in the NCAA once they have improved both their skill level and their grades.

Recruiting Tips

Now, just because there are that many scholarships and options available to high school tennis players does not mean they are easy to receive. The coaches at each of these schools want to attract the best and brightest tennis stars they possibly can to ensure a winning program. So, if you think you can pick up a racket, hit a few balls, and get a free education, you will be disappointed.

With that in mind, the best possible advice you can receive if trying to get a college tennis scholarship is to work hard--really hard--both on the court and in the classroom. Ensuring you are the best tennis player you can possibly be, through long hours of workouts and practice, is incredibly important. Indeed, excelling and beating your opponents at high school, regional, or even national tournaments is the best way to get yourself noticed by collegiate coaches. At the same time, you need to make sure your grades are good enough to be admitted to the school that eventually recruits you.

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