Collegiate Athletics – The New Recruiting Reality

by Joao Pinho, Director of College Placement Nassau Tennis Club

Playing sports at the collegiate level is the ultimate dream of many young athletes and parents. Curiously enough, the difference between those who make into a college program and those who don’t is often having the knowledge of what to do and being proactive. With over $1 billion dollars given to High-School athletes last year alone, the search for a spot in a collegiate team is fiercer than ever before. Be aware that college tennis has the highest percentage of international student athletes in college athletics, so you are not competing only against your High-School teammates for a spot. Therefore, playing tournaments and hope that the coach from your dream school will recruit you is something from the past!

So, what do coaches look for? The answer to this question varies from program to program. While in some institutions having ATP/WTA points (in other words being a professional tennis player) is a must have in order to be considered for a spot. On the other hand, many other programs are happy to accept hardworking, dedicated student-athletes without significant experience. What every High-School tennis player should know is that there is a college tennis team out there that you can contribute to, regardless of how experienced you are!

To start venturing into the college tennis recruiting process every High-School student-athlete and parent should be able to answer this question:

What are your priorities: Is it the level of the tennis program? Is it the academic level of the institution? Is it the amount of scholarship you receive? Or is it the location and size of the institution?

These are some of the basic issues one should consider when starting the process. Keep in mind that selecting a college is one of the most important decisions in one’s life and different aspects should be taken into consideration such as: the academic requirements of the institution, athletic level of the program, the financial impact on the family, and the social/spiritual life at the school. Remember, your Alma Mater stays with you forever so it is crucial to be very informed and to not rush the process.

So, how do you make yourself a more complete and attractive recruit? Do your homework! Meaning, not only be a good student, but also do your own research and have an idea of what you want for your college tennis experience.  Needless to say, results in tournaments can attract coaches your way, but what if you are not a top ranked player? What has been very popular with international student-athletes, for years, and is finally slowly catching up for U.S. based High-School athletes is the use of recruiting services. In other words, PICKING THE EASY PATH AND HIRING A SPECIALIST TO HELP THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS! Consider this real-life example: During one of my experiences an Assistant Coach at an NCAA Division I institution, I would regularly receive dozens of emails from international agencies offering players from all over the world.  In my two-year tenure I do not recall receiving one email from an American recruiting service offering local players. Needless to say, by the end of my second year the team had increased the number of foreign players significantly; from two foreigners out of eight players in my first year, to eight foreigners out of twelve players at the end of my tenure. In another words, believe it or not, it was easier to get a player from South America or Europe then the player that lived down the street, just because we had someone offering them to us. COACHES CANNOT RECRUIT YOU IF THEY DON’T KNOW YOUR ARE OUT THERE!

While hiring a recruiting service to help during the process can be the key, it can also create problems such as making the student-athlete ineligible (if recruiting regulations are not followed). Several recruiting agencies/websites have been created in the past few years with the promise of college sports. While some do follow their promises, others do not come close! So pay close attention to who you are working with, what do they offer, if there are hidden fees (such as video editing, mailing, online profile, percentage on scholarship received) and don’t forget that it is easy to make a service look professional on a website!

About the Author

Joao “Jay” Pinho is the Director of College Placement at Nassau Tennis Club. As a former NCAA Division I player and an MBA Graduate, Pinho has become a specialist in the recruiting process of tennis players as he recruited players in eight different countries; while serving as an Assistant Coach at both Utah State University and The University of Toledo. Additionally, Jay worked at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the governing body of college tennis, and is currently a Volunteer Women’s Assistant Coach at Princeton University. The College Placement Program at Nassau Tennis Club offers various packages that suits different needs and budgets. From video recording to complete assistance throughout the whole process, we are prepared to help members and non-members to reach the collegiate level. For further information please contact Jay Pinho at college@nassautennis.net or at 908-359-8730 ext 22.

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6 Responses to Collegiate Athletics – The New Recruiting Reality

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