Top 3 Tips From JTCC’s Taka Bertrand
Over the past five years, NCAA Tennis has undergone significant changes relating to its structure and recruitment policies. Some of the most notable changes include the use of no-ad scoring, a 6-game doubles set, and a 10-point tiebreak in lieu of a third set once the overall match has been decided. These changes have shortened the length of college tennis matches, promoting a game of decisive points and expedient results. As the system evolves, college tennis remains one of the most exciting and engaging formats of our sport, offering countless opportunities for juniors to continue to play and prepare for their futures. Here are some suggestions for how to explore the college recruitment process:
1. Be an Informed Participant
The recruitment process can appear confusing if you are suddenly the recipient of many messages from college coaches – or, by contrast, if you hear very little. Slowly fading are the days of extensive paper mailings, where interactions with college coaches progressed at a slower pace. Prospective student-athletes can now expect to be approached earlier in high school, and through different channels, especially if they are highly touted recruits. In fact, new legislationproposed by the NCAA (expected to go into effect May 2019) will allow college coaches of Division I schools to contact a prospect beginning June 15 of sophomore year with opportunities to schedule official visits beginning August 1 before junior year.
By becoming an informed participant, you can be engaged yet maintain boundaries. You do not need to be overly active but instead observant of your status and responsive to inquiries. If you are not receiving much contact, you can take the initiative or think of ways to increase your exposure. Devise a plan for how to handle email, text messages or messages via social media. If you feel uncertain about how to respond, ask an adult or someone with experience for guidance. The recruitment process is long and winding and it is prudent to collaborate with trusted advisers as you take action.
2. Cast a Wide Net
It is important to give yourself plenty of options. You should start by targeting schools that appeal to your values, academic priorities and goals with tennis. Keep in mind that college coaches are likely doing the same, so prepare alternative options if you need to divert from your top choices.When making your college list, research each school’s academic ranking, player ratings, and team ranking. Take into account additional factors such as number of graduating seniors, conference, athletic aid or opportunities to make your education more affordable. My recommendation is to avoid fixation on one school, group of schools, or even NCAA division. Create diverse lists. Be open-minded to different possibilities, including the possibility that you might feel differently once interacting with a coach, team, or visiting a campus.
3. Play to Develop
Sophisticated scoring analytics are playing a much greater role in tennis. The emergence of a universal rating system has undoubtedly changed the recruitment strategies and behavior of college coaches and prospects alike. While it is beneficial to have a high rating or ranking, I suggest avoiding efforts to protect results or manipulate the system. Instead of worrying about your rating, redirect your focus toward developing your competitive skills. Sometimes a loss, even to a lower rated player, can provide valuable feedback or produce the motivation required to make substantial improvements. Adopt a mindset that you might be one forehand, backhand or long point away from discovering something about your game that will elevate your level and confidence.
As you age up, it is also more fun to play a diverse schedule, and it will display your commitment to your sport. At JTCC, we encourage all of our players to compete in our upcoming JTCC UTR College Connect/Travel Grant event June 9 – 15. This event will present a unique opportunity for players to compete in a progressive level money event, while experiencing the college recruitment process firsthand.
For questions or advice regarding college recruitment processes, please contact Taka Bertrand at firstname.lastname@example.org