If Division I is known for the big name “rah-rah” schools and Division III is known for smaller academia-focused schools, Division II is well … blue-collar? International? Well, probably a little bit of both. Many clients have asked me, “Is there a Division II, and why do I just hear of Division I and Division III?” The reason is that there aren’t as many D-II schools in the Northeast, and most if not all, fly under the radar. Matthew Finnerty from Warwickshire Leam in the United Kingdom, who will be a senior at D-II Mount Olive College in Mount Olive, N.C., is both international and hard-working.
JuniorTennisConsulting: How did a kid from Warwickshire Leam in the United Kingdom end up at Mount Olive?
Matt Finnerty: Mount Olive came completely by chance. I used to play with a friend in London who went to Mount Olive. He got me in contact with the coach and the whole thing just snowballed from there.
Mount Olive has men’s tennis players from five different countries? How does everyone work around that?
To be honest, having so many players from different countries works well. We all have something in common, and that's why we had so much success this year
What do you think is the biggest advantages and/or disadvantages of playing Division II tennis?
You get to be part of a team and travel the country. Other than that, it's all the same to me.
What are other options for high school-aged kids from the United Kingdom (or other countries) looking to continue their tennis careers?
In England, there are a few options to continue playing tennis and studying, however, nothing really compares to what the United States has to offer. I think the fact that athletic scholarships are available adds more people from a variety of countries to the mix, including England. America was really the only option for me as I would not have been able to afford English University.
Is it hard to assimilate at a university a continent away?
It was hard at first, and I experienced a bit of culture shock to say the least. But after a month or so, it was easy to adapt. To be honest, coming here was a big hit or miss for me. I had not played in a year due to work, so I did not really know what was going to happen. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised how quick I was able to get back into it.
What would you say to people who think American tennis scholarships should go to American players?
Of course people don't want internationals taking their scholarships. I can completely understand that. However, I do believe that Europe is a stronger tennis area so that's why I think it continues.
Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at the prestigious Pine Hollow Country Club and independently coaches high-performance juniors year-round predominantly at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. As a player, Becker was awarded Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis Team and 1989-1992 Roslyn High School Teams. He was ranked number one in the Eastern Section and fourth in the United States in the 18-and-unders. He can be reached at email@example.com, 516-359-4843 or via JuniorTennisConsulting.com.