TOP 10 QUESTIONS <2014>

Top Ten
QUESTIONS @ COLLEGE NIGHT
Southern Closed, Mobile, AL on 6/15/14

Was it the panel of college coaches or was it the free pizza??

TD Scott Novak knew he had a captive audience when he arranged a group of 6 college coaches to take questions from 75 players & parents as they gathered for an hour under the tent. We were honored to be included & we took a few minutes at the beginning of the evening to present info re: College Recruit Videos. We also distributed an article by & about HIGH-TECH TENNIS to share some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past 9 years.
Click HERE to access the article.
{Any errors in transcribed minutes are unintentional.}

COLLEGE COACHES

  • Assistant Men’s Coach for University of Alabama: Before we got started, he wanted to thank Scott because he ate 2 lunches, 7 slices of pizza, 1 sno-cone & some delicious popcorn at the tournament that day! In his 3rd year at Alabama, this coach grew up in Tampa & played junior tennis in FL. He went to the University of Illinois because it offered the best combination of academics & athletics. After college, he played on the tour for 5-6 years & he had a fairly successful career but he didn’t make a lot of money. If you’re in tennis for the money, you might want to pick another sport! That’s why he’s such a great advocate of college tennis because a lot of people have this misconception of pro tennis players making a lot of money. He was ranked between #200-300 for about 5 years & he didn’t make that much money so he said go to college, get an education & if you do really well there, use it as a stepping stone to the pros. His #1 piece of advice is to go on all the visits you can because just talking to the coach is not enough. Go see the campus, experience it & meet the people on the team. See if you mesh & if you feel like you can be a part of that team.
  • Head Women’s Tennis Coach @ University of Tennessee/Chattanooga: Has coached D1 tennis for 15 years & made this statement repeatedly: There are a lot of great colleges out there, some that you’ve heard of & some that you haven’t heard of so be sure you do your homework.
  • Head Women’s Tennis Coach at US Naval Academy: In his 26th year of coaching, he told players there’s a spot for each & every one of them. Their job is to wade through all the info to find the college that’s right FOR THEM.
  • Women’s Tennis Coach University of NC/Greensboro: Over 24 years of coaching – both men & women – he’s seen both sides.
  • Women’s Tennis Coach at Garner Webb University in NC, D1 mid-major

TOP 10 QUESTIONS

  1. UNOFFICIAL VS. OFFICIAL VISITS: An unofficial visit means the player pays. You can make as many unofficial visits as you want but an OFFICIAL visit means the school pays. If the coach is not interested in paying for an official visit, you might want to look elsewhere. You can ask for an official visit & if the coach is interested, they’ll make arrangements but some schools don’t have the resources to take care of every expense. An unofficial visit is a great way to gain information & get the ball rolling. If you haven’t taken any yet, you should since it could lead to an official visit.
  2. ABOUT CONTACTING COACHES: Start early & be proactive! People think coaches know everything about everybody & that’s just not true. If players contact them regularly, it keeps the player’s name in front of the coach so they can start following you, watching you play, seeing what kind of person you are. Coaches want you to communicate with them & ask questions that you want answered. Don’t force the coach to give you a generic description of the school. What specifically do you want to know? Ask a lot of questions!
  3. HOW TO CONTACT COACH: Email. Texting is coming soon but phone also works. PLAYER SHOULD BE THE ONE WHO MAKES CONTACT WITH THE COACH – NOT THE PARENTS. Even if the player fumbles the conversation a bit, it goes a long way to show the coach that they’re willing to do the work. Parents should be there to support the players – especially when it comes to money – but PLAYERS MUST BE THE ONES WHO INITIATE CONTACT WITH THE COACH. During your freshman or sophomore year, make a list of 15-20 schools, including a few dream schools, a few realistic schools, a few close schools. Research the schools & email the coaches to reach out to them. Introduce yourself. If you’re local, you really don’t need to send a video but it’s o.k. to do so. Just keep it short & definitely include live match play. Anybody looks good on hand-fed ball & coaches are just not interested in seeing your tweener, etc. Local players – Send your tournament schedule so the coach can watch you & feel a little bit of a personal connection.
  4. UNDERSTAND THE RULES: It’s really important to know the rules at tournaments about when coaches can talk with you. Where can parents find them? USTA publishes a College Guide that answers a lot of basic questions. Players can call coaches as much as they want but coaches cannot call back so you need to know the rules, which are different for different divisions.
  5. WHY NOT RECRUIT AMERICAN PLAYERS: That’s the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION!!! A few foreign players on a team adds culture & tennis is an international game so it’s unrealistic to expect that we’ll have all Americans on all teams. NO, coaches don’t have a quota for how many Americans they can or should recruit & some coaches recruit more foreign players bcuz they think it’s easier. Some coaches think Americans are soft. Most coaches want to recruit American players but it’s just not that easy. There are limitations & they usually have only a certain of pool to choose from because the top Americans will only go to top schools so what are they left with? If American players aren’t interested, coaches have to keep their  eyes open for good international players. College tennis mirrors the sport of tennis – it’s an international sport – so think about the 128 players in US OPEN. There might be 20 Americans & 108 from other countries. College tennis mirrors that competitive level. That’s what makes college tennis so great. There is a lot of great tennis being played at schools you’ve heard of & a lot of great tennis being played at schools you haven’t heard of. The level of college tennis over past 15 years has become much deeper & part of the reason is foreign players are joining college tennis teams. So be sure you consider there are two sides to the coin.  There are foreign players but it makes the level of competition stronger. There are over 300 D1 programs & often American kids just want to go to the big name school. If I’m at a school that’s not one of them, I can’t get top players to come to my school so that’s one of the reasons coaches recruit internationally. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to the schools you will consider.
  6. HELP TO PLAY ITFs? Yes, it’s helpful anytime you have the opportunity to gain that type of experience. But be realistic in terms of where your game is & where it’s not.
  7. DO COACHES RESPOND? Not always. Some coaches respond as a personal courtesy but you have to remember that you may be one of several hundred players who contact the school. If you don’t hear back, write them again. Keep contacting them until you get a response. Be a squeaky wheel!
  8. COMMUNICATE WITH COACHES: If you have a video, attach it. Also tell the coach what you’re interested in studying or becoming or doing with your life. Do you have any plans for grad school? Coaches don’t want to select a player who won’t be happy at their school but don’t get your heart set on 1-2 places. BE REALISTIC.
  9. ARE ACADEMICS IMPORTANT? Yes, DEFINITELY. Some colleges have to maintain certain standards & academics could mean money for you, which could mean less athletic money the coach has to spend on you & more they’ll have to spend on another player. If two players are equal in every way, the student with the better grades will be selected because the coach knows they will have less to worry about.
  10. SCHOLARSHIP SPECIFICS: Can a player lose their scholarship after a year? Per NCAA regulations, the coach cannot take away or lessen a scholarship based on player ability & all scholarships are issued for one year. There is an understanding that the scholarship will continue for four years but technically they cannot take away your scholarship if you get hurt. Also if a player wants to leave, the coach wants to help them leave – why would they want a player to stay where they don’t want to be?

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