What’s it like to be recruited to play college tennis? Most people will think of movies and will picture the “Blind Side” courting that brought everyone from Nick Saban to Lou Holtz to the living room to hear their sales pitch. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Tennis is not even close to a media frenzy that football is, and even the Blue Chip recruits do not get that treatment. Tennis recruitment is defined by one word: Stressful
It is supposed to be that way. So if you are feeling the pressure and stress of your recruitment, do not worry, again it is supposed to be that way. The flipside is, that tennis has something that no other sport at the same level has on its recruitment; stats and rankings. If you are savvy enough and able to play around them, you can build yourself a great case towards finding the perfect school for you.
Still, you need to consider that there is a national ranking, state ranking, USTA ranking, Tennis Recruiting ranking, RPI ranking, ITF ranking. If you have not gotten the point now, the reality is that these rankings can and make in most cases things harder for coaches and student-athletes instead of making things easier.
Now that I have you even more stressed knowing that you are going to have to work for it, a savior comes along. Recruiting companies.
Yes, I have unveiled the truth. I work for a recruiting company as its lead agent and have been able, as a first-hand witness, to see the sort of work that my competitors do. There is no wrong or right in this process, is just about a matter of choosing. What you do need as a consumer is to have the information to make the right decision and choose a company that will cater to your needs.
First of all, just as with Real Estate, Law Firms and even Business Consulting, there are multiple options in the market. My main purpose is to make it very simple and do a breakdown of each tier of recruiting companies.
In this tier, you will have the well known Tennis Recruiting (TR). This website has evolved from a great tool and realized that there is a market in recruitment. Even if in itself it does not brand as a recruitment company, it can aid you in the process. TR will allow you to create your profile and see for a fee what coach is looking at your profile. Useful but if you are not educated in the process it can create a chaos. In the past with my clients, I have found it very confusing since I would spend hours educating the family trying to explain that their child’s tennis level fits College X from NAIA but they come back with the classic - “But my profile was seen last week by Coach Y from NCAA I; therefore, they want me.” Just as you go online to Amazon and look at over 20 items without buying a single one, coaches will do the same. From college coaches looking at your profile to translating athat towards interest and getting offers, there is long, long way. If it was that easy, my child would not be getting fed. Tennis Recruiting is a tool, and a useful one, but depending on them will be incorrect. Create a profile, even get the yearly subscription and use it as much as possible, but do it understanding the limitations and reach.
I would place here a couple of the well-known sites where you sign up for free, we get your information and allow you to play around with our resources (some of them are tremendous I have to say, I can’t even imagine the cost to maintain and create such automated tools) and if you want to use us even more, you can for the same cost of a coffee per day. Coaches will start contacting you very soon. These websites are close to a non-factor in recruitment as it can be. You will be found there just as much as you would on Youtube by just putting your video. The funny thing is, that I tried it once creating a fake profile and they will send me regularly emails saying that a coach just saw my profile and was interested in me to be recruited.
Giant of recruiting
In this tier, you have NCSA, the largest recruiting company that uses other informational websites and freebies as a database of their company map. They are the McDonalds of recruiting. With a large number of full-time employees, their up costs are incredibly high and they need to produce and receive as many clients as possible. The main issue with their programs, as with large companies, is the lack of individuality. You are input into a database and you are expected without a personalized education, relying on their resources to be recruited. Could it work? For some yes. I have found that for the D3 non-as-competitive-player it has a higher chance to find schools since most of those coaches recruit on the NCSA database. Expecting Brian Borland to scroll over 5000 players to find their next star is just naive.
These are the long-standing companies that may have and found enough success now has franchised and is found through the USA and even abroad. They follow a script and have been trained in their method of college placement. They will have experience but will provide a cookie cutter service. In their website, coaches are welcome to research between the players they have available. They do not provide a success rate. Mostly, they will sell you on their experience in the market (even if your agent is not likely to have been in the business long).
Recruiting via Academies
Here you have recruitment programs from academies as IMG, Evert or Weil where a counselor provides this for you. This counselor acts more as an academic advisor and will help in combination with your tennis coaches to do this. Your coach may know a large number of Universities and have contacts, but expecting him/her to do an extensive research on each school to determine your “right fit” is unrealistic. They also lack the time that is needed to follow up with coaches, generate new leads, work on your planning, eligibility and so much more. They may invite coaches from the schools in the area to see you. The downside is that the number of schools targeted is limited and you are likely to be placed in the wrong profile that does not fit exactly what you are looking for.
These are companies that can be found mostly abroad, tennis graduates that have found success providing what they learn on their past experiences. There are some very good companies that do this and have a great system in place with good experience, but there is a larger group that have a limited network of College Coaches. Is very easy to find this out if there is a pattern of their success stories. If you see a repeated number of players committing to the same schools, it is likely they are not doing a good job. The same school that is perfect for Player X will not be for Player Y since both come from different backgrounds, have different filters and aspirations. Make sure that your agent is always doing a personalized service.
The most important thing is to make sure that you feel comfortable and you are educated in this process of recruitment. If you are going to a Recruitment service is due to the fact that you need help and you want to make sure that it is provided with the highest standard of what you paid for. Recruiting is frustrating and stressful, but having a guiding hand can relieve and provide the peace of mind needed.