The dilemma that faces many tennis families today, after spending nine to 10 years on the junior tennis circuit running from tournament to tournament is, “How do we find the right college for our child?” Ask most young junior tennis players where they want to go to college, and the majority will answer: Stanford, Duke, U Penn or some other top flight university. While those schools usually do have spots to fill on their tennis teams, varying in number from year to year, realistically, they need a player who fits a certain set of criteria. It is that criteria that keeps most junior tennis players from consideration.
The good news is that somewhere in the country, there is a quality tennis program at a school with strong academics that will serve as a great fit for your son or daughter. The challenge is finding that particular school. In a time where children grow up using subject tutors, SAT advisors and tennis pros for private instruction, many are turning to college tennis advisors to help navigate the process of finding the right school. At the beginning, the process can be a bit overwhelming. The real test is keeping things totally realistic. With the help of a college tennis advisor, time can be spent much more efficiently, leaving more time to drill down and perform the kind of due diligence necessary to really understand Division I, II or III tennis programs and just how well your child fits within the program.
A good college tennis advisor makes it a priority to understand your child’s need on both an athletic, as well as academic, level. Everyone wants to play for the best tennis program that they can, but it is crucial that the school ultimately chosen has the correct balance of tennis and academics. This is what will make the college experience truly worth all the hard work that your child has put into making them an attractive candidate to a college or university.
Properly armed with probing questions, one’s investigation of a school’s tennis program should reveal the kind of rapport the tennis coach has with their players, and how that dynamic meshes with your child’s needs and regiment. Does the coach run their own practices or leave it to their assistants? How often does the team practice per week? What time do they practice? Is the coach the type of coach looking to help grow your child’s game or one that wants a finished product? Does your child want a program where they eat, sleep and breathe tennis, or would they prefer a more relaxed program where they can become involved in things like fraternity/sorority life, student council or other sports?
No one knows your child better than you do. For instance, if your child performs best when they practice five to six days a week, but needs to get to bed early in order to rest properly, then a program that practices three times a week from 9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. may not be the right choice. Most families don’t ask those critical and probing questions on their own. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the “moment” of your child fulfilling their dream of playing collegiate tennis. That is exactly why a college tennis advisor should become a vital part of your program and university selecting process, helping to give your child as many opportunities as possible to achieve what they have been working towards throughout their entire junior career.
A college tennis advisor will help uncover available options, so that together with you and your child, you’ll be able to choose the absolute best school from every aspect of collegiate life. Making the right choice in schools does not have to become your second job, just as long as you have the right strategy from the start.