An Interview With Former Brown Men’s Tennis Coach and Current Sportime Manager Jay Harris (Part I)
  | By Ricky Becker

Humbly, Jay Harris and I know a lot about college tennis. But this does not stop our college tennis debates. Jay was kind enough to let me interview him for some insight.

At what point in a high school player’s career do you suggest he/she contact college coaches?
Jay Harris: Some players touch base with coaches as early as the spring of their sophomore year. Most players wait until they are well into their junior year to contact coaches though. I feel it is important to establish some good communication via e-mail during the fall of a player’s junior year.

I have previously written in this column that you should NEVER mention injuries to coaches. Do you agree?
JH: Actually, I would have to disagree Mr. Becker. I recently counseled one of our program’s top players, Josh Levine, to be very open and honest to coaches about an injury he is dealing with that had caused him to miss a couple tournaments. The response he received back from coaches was awesome. Coaches really saw that Josh was dealing with his injury in a very professional way—this is very important to a college coach because very few college players go through a career without some sort of injury. The coaches also saw that Josh really loved and missed tennis. Josh had explained that it was killing him to miss these tournaments. Josh also got to see which coaches truly cared about him and his tennis through some of the e-mail replies he received.

Do college coaches really get turned off by kids they see as cheaters?
JH: The reputation you develop as a cheater is extremely hard to get rid of, and college coaches can definitely be influenced negatively by these reputations.

Jay, I have stated many times that if a child really wants to start on his or her college tennis team, that child should
go to a school where he or she will start right away because not many kids improve as subs and are more likely to quit. Do you agree or disagree?

JH: The best situation for a player to step in to is one where the player is starting right away, maybe playing four to five with room to “move on up the line-up.” It is very tough to “ride the pine,” especially for players who are used to being stars, or whose parents might have told them they will most likely be the University President by the end of their freshman year. So instant playing time is nice for sure. However, there are some teams/coaches who are able to develop both starters and non-starters. The key for a recruit examining the ability for a coach to develop players and see if players progress up the lineup.

Ricky Becker is the Director of Tennis at Pine Hollow Country Club. He independently coaches high-performance juniors and adults of all-levels year-round at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. He has coached hundreds of ranked junior players. As a player, Becker was awarded Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis Team and 1989-1992 Roslyn High School Tennis Teams, and was ranked number four in the United States in the 18 & Under Division.