| By Ricky Becker

It’s late in the summer and you want to play college tennis and use your tennis game to help your college prospects, but you haven’t done anything yet to prepare for your college search. This is what you should do first …

If you graduated high school in 2012 …
Know what you want to get out of a school first and foremost (scholarship, education, tennis, geography), and then go on the Internet or hire a college consulting company and contact the coaches at these schools. Realistically, it will be tough to set anything up for September, but there should be some scholarship opportunities starting in January if you try hard enough. Scholarship money sometimes opens up last minute at some schools as people transfer or de-commit. Play tournaments, and if you are ranked outside the top-100, make a college video ASAP. Make visiting schools that you are interested in a very high priority as well.

If you finished your junior year of high school in 2012 …
Make your college video, know what you want to get out of a school, make a list of 10-15 schools and contact the coaches at these schools. Parents, if your kids are shy or not being proactive, this is probably not the time to teach them proactivity, send a coach an e-mail on your child’s behalf. Or (and I am not saying to do this of course) some parents I have spoken to have sent e-mails from their child’s e-mail saying it was the child. I’m just saying it has been done many, many times.

If you finished your sophomore year of high school in 2012 …
Educate yourself with the process so that there are no surprises for the upcoming school year. Make a target list of no more than 20 schools. Educate yourself on what rankings and grades you will need to be of interest to the schools on your list. Statistically, any college that is looking for recruits two stars higher than what you are on TennisRecruiting.net are major long shots at this point as well. Casually reach out to schools that will be interested in your current credentials. If any of these correspondences go well, try and set up an unofficial visit to a school.

If you finished your freshman year of high school in 2012 …
Educate yourself on what the tennis and academic thresholds are for colleges and try to imagine if you can reach your target schools by hitting the athletic or academic threshold. A student who is slightly below a school’s academic and athletic target has a lot less of a chance for admittance/scholarship money than a person who surpasses one target and clearly misses the other target. Parents should make a preliminary list of colleges with their kids. There is no need to limit the amount of colleges on the list. Send a casual letter to a coach if your ranking and/or grades fit their profile. This is a great time to sit back and try to realistically figure out if tennis will open doors or if all the focus should be on academics.

If you are now entering high school …
Start looking at tennis practice as another fun way of doing homework. Test scores matter for college but so does a ranking. Train on-and-off the court with similar respect and dedication that you give your homework. Parents should start understanding what is important to them and their child in a college. Parents should start to get an idea what ranking would garner the interest of particular tennis teams. Kids and parents should get acquainted with TennisRecruiting.net which is the ranking that most college coaches look at.

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 rbecker06@yahoo.com or visit JuniorTennisConsulting.com.