There is no doubt that junior rankings for kids change, and I feel strongly that the kids who are best served are the ones who don’t focus on rankings too much at a young age, but focus more on development.
Statistics from ninth grade through 12th grade may surprise you though. In 2009, only one boy who was in the top-75 in the country his senior year of high school was outside the top 200 nationally in his freshman year of high school, according to tennisrecruiting.net, the premier college tennis recruiting site in the country. This means that only one boy outside the top 200 as a freshman in the whole United States cracked the top 75 by the time he was a senior. And the girls only had six who did this! I have numerous examples of the lack of ranking movement at all levels.
What this means is that once your child is in high school, you could at least start taking a look at where your child’s college tennis path is taking him/her. Use this generic guide to see how far your child’s tennis can take her/him collegiately.
Top 25 Division 1: Girls can usually get a full scholarship to highly-desired schools. Boys can get a partial scholarship to the most-desired schools or a full scholarship to a major conference. All Ivy League schools are very interested.
Division 2: Full scholarships are available, but rarely if ever taken.
Division 3: Huge bump for admission, but I cannot recall anyone this high going to a D3 school.
25-100 Division 1: Full scholarships for girls to many schools in a major conferences. For boys, there are plenty of “partials” out there and with some digging, full scholarships are available. Ivy League schools are interested in getting people in early.
Division 2: Full scholarships are available, although only one or two kids per year at this level take one.
Division 3: There is a huge bump for admission, but only one or two boys at this level go to D3 schools per year … even less for girls.
Division 1: Partial scholarships are available to some schools. A full scholarship can possibly be found with a lot of digging. Ivy League schools are often interested, but it is contingent upon who they get or don’t get with a better ranking.
Division 2: Full scholarships to D2 schools are often available.
Division 3: There is a big academic bump for admission. Pretty much all D3 colleges are very interested in players within this ranking range. Players in this range will start at most, if not all, D3 teams.
Division 1: There are occasional bench spots for teams in major conferences and starting spots are available for smaller teams. Hard to find much tennis money at the D1 though. Very little help with Ivy League admissions.
Division 2: There is some scholarship money available and many starting spots are available outside of the top national D2 teams.
Division 3: Definite academic bump to most Division 3 schools. This level of player will compete for a starting spot on a nationally-ranked D3 team and start for most non-ranked D3 teams.
Division 1: Starting spots are available on least competitive teams or schools that have tough academics that don’t give major admissions bumps to athletes. Maybe guaranteed roster spot with general admission.
Division 2: Some scholarship money is available and many starting spots are available outside of the ranked national D2 teams.
Division 3: Academic bump to non-ranked Division 3 teams. Would get onto most ranked rosters with a “general” admission … that is admittance without the “recommendation” of the college coach.
Division 1: Roster spots, and even some starting spots, are available for least competitive teams. An academic bump is pretty minimal. A player at this level would have to tryout for many teams once enrolled.
Division 2: Many roster and starting spots are available at non-scholarship schools. Finding athletic scholarship money is possible, but also extremely difficult.
Division 3: Starting spots and academic bumps are available on the lesser competitive teams. Also, opportunities are available at schools that have tough academics that do not give major admissions bumps to athletes.
Division 1: Starting spots and roster spots are available at least competitive teams. Most, but not all, teams are outside of this region. Not much if any of an academic bump and no tennis scholarships. May need to tryout once enrolled.
Division 2: Starting spots and roster spots are available at the least competitive teams. Most, but not all, teams are outside of this region. Not much if anything in the way of an academic bump and/or scholarship. May need to tryout once enrolled.
Division 3: Starting spots and roster spots are available on many non-ranked teams. Not much if any of an academic bump. Will probably need to try out for the team once enrolled in school.
Please note, please use this guide only as a template. Other factors, such as rapport with a college coach, doubles ability, perceived upside, etc. can play a role into the equation. The extra tennis scholarships allotted to women’s tennis makes scholarships more readily available.
About the Author
Founder of JuniorTennisConsulting LLC
Ricky Becker is director of tennis at Pine Hollow Country Club and independently coaches high-performance juniors year-round at Bethpage State Park and Jericho/Westbury Tennis where he is the junior tournament director. He can be reached by phone at (516) 605-0420, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit JuniorTennisConsulting.com.