MOBILE, AL ON 6/13/15

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

Once again, TD Scott Novak arranged a group of college coaches to take questions from 75 players/parents as they gathered for an hour under the tent. He said he hoped the night could be a positive one & that players would learn something. HIGH-TECH TENNIS was honored to be included & we spoke for a brief period re: College Recruit Videos & then distributed HIGH-TECH TIPS (T:Thoughtful I:Insights for P:Prospective S:Student-Athletes)  that we’ve gathered from players, parents & coaches who have been through the recruiting process.
Why not learn from those who have walked the walk!?!
Click HERE to access the HIGH-TECH TIPS.
{Any errors in transcribed minutes are unintentional.}


  • Head Women’s Tennis Coach, University of Louisville (D-1)
  • Head Women’s Tennis Coach, Williams College (D-3)
  • Head Women’s Tennis Coach, U.S. Naval Academy (D-1)
  • Head Men’s & Women’s Tennis Coach, Mississippi College (D-2)
  • Associate Men’s Tennis Coach, Penn State University (D-1)


  1. WHAT ARE COACHES LOOKING FOR: Each coach attempted to answer this very broad question! One said that coaches have a set of criteria & recruits have a set of criteria but finding that match is very difficult. Another coach mentioned Title 9 & limitations for scholarship money. With 6 scholarships available for women but only 4.5 for men, he said he can’t make a mistake on the men’s side. He also said that he’s looking for GOOD DOUBLES PLAYERS & that’s a big part of his team. Junior players are typically concerned with ranking in singles & doubles is more of a fun thing (it’s not something that they put a lot into) but if you’re working with a teaching pro, this coach suggest that you say “help me in doubles.” The third coach talked about watching to see how players compete, how they handle adversity & how they treat their opponent during the pressure of match play. Coach #4 talked about the importance of academics, being positive & excited to be part of the team & playing with a lot of heart & determination. The final coach mentioned the importance of asking the coach a lot of questions, not just following their friends to a specific school & developing a true relationship between the coach & the team.
  2. WHAT PERSONALITY TYPES MAKE STUDENT-ATHLETES SPECIAL: Obviously people mature & change over time & coaches understand that because they’re educators first. Every coach wants to know about the player’s competitive level, which can sometimes be learned during 7-hr bus rides (!!) but the bottom line is that the team is a family. Student-athletes have responsibilities above & beyond that of the average student & did you know that student-athletes graduate with a higher grade point average & at a faster rate than does the average student? In addition, some student-athletes are being trained to be military officers who represent the academy, as well as our country, in a manner that’s befitting. Division 3 schools are highly academic with highly distinguished student-athletes. These student-athletes are looking to excel in academics & athletics. The things they learn through this process are skills that companies are looking for & many want to hire graduates from our school.
  3. WHAT ABOUT WALK-ON PLAYERS: As long as the walk-on player can contribute to the team & practice well, they can play but it’s tough because they’re fighting an uphill battle. One coach shared that some of his favorite players are walk-ons because their attitude is a little different than everybody elses. Some schools have a no-cut policy for 12 men & 12 women. Some schools call them ‘development’ instead of ‘walk-on’ players & one coach stressed that these are not bad players. Walk-on players can be 5-star, ranked #50 in the nation.
  4. UNDERSTAND NCAA GUIDELINES: Everyone should be familiar with scholarships and how many can be given. For women, a fully-funded school can only give 8 scholarships. It doesn’t matter whether the coach only gives $1 or a full scholarship, he can only give out 8. For men, it’s an equivalency sport & because it has to balance the scholarships given for football, they only get 4.5 scholarships. You have to understand this: If you are a male & you are going to try to play Division 1 tennis, chances are YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET A FULL SCHOLARSHIP. Did you know that Steve Johnson, who’s playing on the pro tour, didn’t get a full scholarship? He may have during his last year but don’t think he even got a scholarship during his first year.
  5. UNIVERSALTENNIS.COM <UTR>: Each player at this tournament is assigned a specific number <based on a very serious algorithm> that refers to their ability to compete, not wins & losses. For example: The #1 male player @ Penn State has a UTR score of 14.21. The score for the bottom player on Penn State’s men’s team is 13 so a junior with a UTR score of 12.5 has potential & coaches will be looking at him. The best players may not have the best-looking strokes but they win so examine your UTR score & understand if you’re a walk-on or a line-up player for each specific school. Go to & find your number to determine the kind of schools you should be considering. Keep in mind that UTR scores depend on “quality” matches. That’s why scores are very inexact & should be used as guidelines ONLY.
  6. WHAT ABOUT TENNISRECRUITING.NET: Both tools are very useful for players to determine if they could potentially play for a specific college. is based on wins/losses but don’t over-estimate the value of either tool.
  7. WHEN TO COMMIT TO SCHOOL: There is an epidemic of juniors committing early because their friends are committing. The days of official visits during September of your senior year are going to end because the kids will have signed as juniors in November. Best advice: TAKE ALL YOUR VISITS & DO NOT LET A COACH PRESSURE YOU INTO COMMITTING. Start looking at schools during your junior year & make list of top 5 schools but understand you will not make a living playing pro tennis. Commit to your school based on your major & what you want to study. Remember that students can take as many UNOFFICIAL VISITS as they want but the moment the college pays even $1 toward a stick of gum, it becomes an OFFICIAL VISIT. Women feel pressure to commit early but you should not make a rash decision. You should start earlier, rather than later & look at schools as early as 8th & 9th Make a list of wish schools, add some fall-backs. If you travel around the country to tournaments, stop by and visit schools along the way. An unofficial visit is the most important tool in your arsenal. Understand the rules regarding when a coach can contact you & understand that when the school verbally commits to you, it is not binding. You cannot sign a binding contract (NLI) until November of your senior year.
  8. DO YOU HAVE TO PLAY ITF TOURNAMENTS: One coach shared that her school has just two international players who have played ITFs but players don’t need to go all over the world to chase points. The tournaments in the US are strong enough. If your section is extremely competitive, you might benefit from playing ITFs because they are international & closer to college tennis but they are not necessary.
  9. ACADEMICS & SCHOLARSHIPS: Some schools can package funds & some schools can’t. Some schools offer athletic money & no academic money. When you ask the coach about money, ask if they package athletic money, academic money, and even need-based money. Did you know that Ivy Leagues are pretty much free if you’re a tennis player who’s good & you have the grades to get in? Contact the financial aid department at the schools <don’t call the coach> to determine the specific criteria for academic scholarships. Understand exactly how much you can afford for your education.
  10. HOW TO PROTECT STUDENT IF SCHOOL CHANGES DIVISIONS: Make sure you understand the rules! Once the scholarship is granted, the school cannot pull the scholarship without a reason. Being injured is not a reason but becoming ineligible academically is a reason & if you get injured & you’re not doing your rehab properly, that is a reason. But if the school changes divisions and they pull the scholarship, you can ask for an appeal.

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