College Tennis: Getting a Scholarship - part 1

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by serveitup911, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    Below is my Senior project on college tennis recruiting: I'm sorry that is so long and formal, but I think it has a lot of useful information. Do not use any part of this for an assignment without credit to me.

    “I’ll never be able to do this!” One of my first memories from tennis was during a lesson when I was eight years old. I was trying to learn a two-handed backhand, but I just could not get the stroke right. I began playing tennis in 1995 at the age of eight. I loved hitting the ball and often spent hours hitting against our basement wall. After a few months of lessons and practicing, I was hitting the ball pretty well and had learned how to keep score, so I entered my first tournament. I won it! With that win, my love for tennis grew, and I started playing more tournaments to improve my play. Oh yes, I mastered that two-handed backhand, and today coaches tell me that I have one of the best backhands in the nation. As my results improved, my parents and I started to travel longer distances for me to play in bigger and more important tournaments with tougher competition. We traveled to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan, Arizona, California, and Washington D.C. As I got more deeply involved in tennis, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with tennis. I did my sophomore project, entitled “The Making of a Champion,” on the mental game of tennis. I interviewed two famous former tennis professionals, Stan Smith, former world #1, and Tim Wilkison, a former top 10 player who I had met and admired for his determination. I learned much about what made these former pros so successful. Much of their success seemed to result from a love for competition, strong confidence in their abilities, a realistic assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, and focused goal setting. That project caused me to start thinking about my tennis goals. Like every kid, I first thought that I would become a professional tennis player. However, I soon realized that to make a living in tennis, I would have to be ranked in the top 100 in the world! I knew that would be tough to do, so I directed my attention towards getting a college tennis scholarship as a short term goal. Depending on my development and success in college, I could realistically assess the possibility of turning pro.
    I started thinking about colleges, but I really knew nothing about the recruiting process. When I started researching college tennis through the internet, I soon realized that the process would be much more difficult than I had imagined, requiring a significant amount of work. I decided to do my senior project on “College Tennis Recruiting” to document the recruiting process, so that others with similar dreams could benefit from the things that I did correctly, the mistakes that I made, and ultimately, what I learned. Ultimately, I learned that the business of college tennis recruiting is long and complicated, but with hard work, enthusiasm, and organization, one can win!
    It’s been said that a dream is nothing more than a goal without a deadline. Thousands of talented young men and women compete with vigor and passion for their respective high school athletic programs, envisioning the dream of being offered a college scholarship in their sports. All too often those dreams are muddled in the harshest of realities called recruiting. The truth is that there are a finite number of collegiate athletic scholarships available for a disproportionate number of high school athletes. Colleges and universities are limited in the number of full and partial scholarships that they can offer to potential ********. The recruiting process is difficult for athletes, parents and coaches to assess because it can be full of uncertainties. The process is both selective and subjective. There is no real science to it. The one sure thing about the athletic recruiting process is that only 1 percent of high school athletes receive scholarships to play in college. Recruiting is a war that can only be controlled by winning the individual battles. You can gain leverage over the process by going on the offensive and choosing the college that is best for both academics and athletics. If your goals are to attend the college of your choice, participate in a competitive intercollegiate athletic program and graduate on time, you must set your goals to a deadline so that your dreams will become reality. (Hill 2)

    “Less than 1% of all high school students will receive an athletic scholarship” (Getting Athletes into College 5). My goal was to be part of the small group that gets an athletic scholarship. Through this research, I hope to show others how to be successful in the college recruiting process. For me, the college tennis recruiting process started the summer after my sophomore year. My first task was to prepare a list of colleges and universities in which I was interested. The student must be realistic and choose schools that fit him academically and athletically (Getting Athletes into College 24). “Academic reputation, quality of student life, diversity, outcomes of graduates, post-graduate placement rates and academic support are just a few of the issues to consider while choosing a college. If the school can reasonably provide what you need and want from it, then there exists a great match between you” (Hill 8). However, I found that preparing a list of colleges and universities to be a tougher task than I imagined because there are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States, and I had no idea what I wanted to pursue as my major area of study. This was a problem that contributed to my starting off with a list of over forty colleges, which is about double the ideal starting size. Geographically, with certain exceptions, I wanted to focus my search in the Southeastern United States. Put simply, I hate cold weather. Had it not been for geographic preference, I am afraid that my initial list would have been even longer. Since I was uncertain about a college major, my initial list of colleges and universities was based on the general reputation and academics of the college, its tennis program, and facilities. A very helpful source of information about colleges was Princeton Review’s Best 351 Colleges (Franek). It rates colleges on campus life, academics, selectivity, and financial aid. It also gives student demographics, student / faculty ratio, average class size, most popular majors, average SAT scores, average GPA, application deadlines, and tuition. It is published annually and my later experiences on college campuses showed me that this guide was very reliable. A good source of information about college tennis programs and facilities was “College Tennis Online” at http://www.collegetennisonline.com (College Tennis Online). It gives teams’ rankings, links to each college’s tennis athletic website, and tennis match results. From this website, the player can learn about the caliber of the tennis team, the individual players, the graduation dates for the players, and the experience and longevity of the coaching staff. All of this information about the tennis team and the coaching staff was very important to me for three principal reasons. First, I was interested in a team that would play an excellent schedule of conference and non-conference matches against tough schools, where I could play in a starting position on the team as a freshman, and where I could continue to improve all aspects of my tennis game. Second, I wanted a coaching staff that was respected, stable, and who had a proven track record of developing players in a successful program. Third, having a team with a lot of seniors likely means that the coaches will be actively recruiting more players! After this research on the colleges and tennis programs, my initial list of 40 colleges and universities included Penn State, Wake Forest, Baylor, Florida, Harvard, Rice, Texas Christian, Florida State, Texas, Duke, Yale, William & Mary, Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Pepperdine, North Carolina State, Stanford, North Carolina, Georgia, Miami, Southern California, Furman, Vanderbilt, and Notre Dame. “Choosing the right college is the most difficult part of the recruiting process. It is a process that has evolved into a science rather than an art these days” (Hill 7).
     
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  2. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    College Tennis: Getting a Scholarship - part 2

    Continued...

    A very important step to be eligible to participate in college varsity athletics is to complete the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse application. The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to make sure athletes are academically qualified to be successful in college. The NCAA Clearinghouse website is http://www.ncaaclearinghouse.net. Completing the Clearinghouse application is a simple process; the athlete simply needs to follow the directions and fill out the required forms. The NCAA places a lot of importance on academic eligibility. The requirements can easily be met if the student plans his courses ahead and works hard.
    A student-athlete’s goal is to be prepared for the classroom as well as the playing field. The reward for academic success in the high school classroom is success and graduation on time from college. The ultimate reward for success in college is a degree that is meaningful, while competing at the highest level possible athletically. The grim realities of those who are not prepared academically are severe. Academic probation, potential loss of scholarship, refused admission to selective colleges, or worse yet, failing to graduate, are often the result of poor academic planning and preparation. (Hill 3)

    Once the student has made a list of schools to consider and registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse, he should become very proactive about making sure that the coach from each school finds out about him. The tennis team’s website will usually have the coach’s phone number, email address, and mailing address. The player needs to learn everything possible about the schools that interest him: areas of academics in which the school is best known, coach’s name, team’s rank, sports conference, size of team, size of school, and student profile are just a few examples. I started my communication with the tennis coaches by sending them a brief email. A good time to send the initial communication is in January of the player’s junior year (Getting Athletes into College 15). The email introduced me, pointed out my interest in the school, and alerted the coach that I would be sending him a letter. I promptly followed up with a letter that was longer and more thorough.
    The first paragraph of the letter should give personal biographical and contact information. Some examples are age and birthday, current residence, names of parents, and name of high school. This information is very important in giving the coach an idea about the background of the player. The next paragraph should give the student’s academic achievements and honors. Fortunately, my academics were one of my strengths, and I thought would be a major selling point for me. Some examples are PSAT, SAT, and ACT scores, grade point average, classes taken and planned to be taken, favorite subject, academic awards, and club participation. This paragraph proves to the coach that the player is very serious about his schoolwork. I later learned that academics are very important because coaches hate dealing with players that have academic eligibility issues. In the next paragraph, the player should write about his tennis game and include rankings, best wins, and best tournament results. The player should also include any varsity team awards and sportsmanship awards received. To give the coach a more personalized look, I described my style of play and what I was currently working on in practice. For example, I said, “My strength is my backhand, but I am working hard on my serve and transition game.” The last part of the letter reiterated my interest in the school, gave them my tournament schedule, and included a picture of me hitting my favorite shot. Appendix A exhibits my initial contact letter.
    Within a few days of my initial email, I started receiving a large volume of replies. Due to the large volume of replies by email and regular mail from the coaches, I immediately saw that unless I got “ultra-organized,” all the correspondence would quickly get out of control. For emails, I printed hard copies of each and created separate electronic folders for emails that I sent to and received from coaches. Also, for all correspondence sent and received, I set up separate folders for each school. Over time, the folders became thicker and thicker. Coaches will send questionnaires and lots of information about the school. Appendix B exhibits a copy of a questionnaire that I filled out. The coaches may also send a Media Guide. “The colleges are very restricted as to what they can give you, but this is one of the few allowed items. Media guides contain a wealth of information about the team, players, coaches, school, facilities . . . etc” (Reed). Be sure to respond quickly to the questionnaires and include a short handwritten note that tells of any news or updates. Some things the player could include in the note are tournament results and revisions to his tournament schedule. For example, “I won my last tournament with a win over the 12th player in the nation” and “I just got my report card and had all A’s.” Appendix C exhibits one of my update letters.
    Several coaches from schools not on my initial contact list contacted me. If the schools interested me, I continued the communication and sent a slightly revised version of the initial contact letter. If not interested, I sent a letter to the coach thanking him for his interest, but indicating that I was not interested in further pursuing his school because I had already narrowed down my selection. I did not want to offend anyone because coaches talk to each other about ********. Some schools not on my initial list that contacted me were Brown, Navy, Army, Air Force, Wofford, College of Charleston, Bucknell, Santa Clara, and Eastern Carolina. I sent “no thanks” letters to some of these schools and kept in contact with others. Part of the reason that I was able to dismiss some of the schools and the reason that I stayed in contact with others is that I had preliminarily decided that I wanted to focus on a pre-medicine curriculum. As a result, I said “no thanks” to Bucknell University, which has a strong engineering program, and I became interested in Wofford College, which has an excellent science program with many graduates admitted to medical schools.
    After communicating with coaches from various colleges, the player will likely begin to have some top choices. A great way for the player to show interest in a school is to send a videotape along with a short letter. The video should not be composed of clips of great shots or a practice session. Rather, it should be an unedited tape from a well played, recent match. The coaches will want to see how the player reacts in a competitive situation. Even though it is perhaps obvious, it is important for the player to point out to the coach which player he is on the video. I sent tapes to colleges where the coach had not yet seen me play including Wake Forest, Miami, Harvard, Rice, Texas, Duke, Yale, North Carolina, Florida, Yale, and Notre Dame. I was extremely interested in these ten colleges, but they had not shown much interest in me. Within a few weeks of sending the video, the player will likely receive some kind of correspondence from the coaches. Many coaches to whom I sent videos expressed interest by writing to me. They mentioned that they had enjoyed the tape and would like to see me in person. By sending a tape, I accomplished my goal of getting more coaches interested in me.
    Often, traveling to tournaments will bring the player near a college in which he is interested. If the tournament is a National or Super National, college coaches will likely be scouting players. They look for strengths, weaknesses, attitude, determination, and wins. Here is what Sam Paul, the head men’s tennis coach at the University of North Carolina told me. “I only recruit guys with a lot of character and class. I won’t take anyone with an earring or long hair. I am looking for low maintenance guys. My job is hard enough without having to deal with disciplining [players]” (Paul). It is important for the player not to get nervous if a coach is watching. I was playing a match in a tournament and noticed that the coach from one of my early top choice schools was watching me. I froze; I played terribly and caused the coach to lose interest in me. At the largest junior tournament in the world in Kalamazoo, Michigan, there is a seminar with college coaches from about fifty top schools set up at tables in a large room. I discovered that many knew me as soon as I mentioned my name, but others acted like they had never heard of me. At Kalamazoo, a few coaches from schools high on my list saw me play. Once again, I let my nerves get to me and played very poorly. I was disappointed with my play because I burned up a lot of good will that was developing with some key schools. Conversely, I played some great matches in front of the coaches from Wofford and Furman. They started recruiting me heavily and became my top two choices.
     
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  3. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    College Tennis: Getting a Scholarship - part 3

    Continued...

    Because of the busy schedules of tennis players that attend an academically challenging high school, it is hard to find time to make visits to colleges. It is important for the player to take these opportunities to visit schools. For example, we were driving to a tournament in Tampa, Florida, so we stopped along the way in Gainesville to visit the University of Florida. I was able to see the campus and the tennis facilities. I got a great feel for the school even though we only visited for thirty minutes! Similarly, we were visiting relatives in Pennsylvania and had a great visit at Penn State.
    Whenever possible, the player should arrange unofficial visits to colleges located near tournament sites. This can be done by calling the coach in advance of the tournament. The prospect can visit the school the day before the tournament starts because coaches are not allowed to talk to players during a tournament. Usually, the coach will take the player on a tour of the tennis facilities and the campus. While walking the campus, the player should try to imagine himself there. He can ask himself these questions. Is the campus layout convenient? Do the classrooms look up to date? What is the tennis facility like? How is the coach? It is important for the prospect to make sure to ask the coach questions too. Here are some examples. Describe your coaching style? What percentage of players graduate in four years? Describe a typical day for a team player? After the visit, handwrite a thank-you letter as soon as possible.
    It is important for the player to periodically update coaches, in writing, to let them know that he is still interested in their school and tennis program. The letter should include the latest tournament results, what the player is working on, and a revised tournament schedule. I wrote update letters to each school once a month. This means I was sending about 25 letters per month! I was very diligent in filing copies of all the letters I had sent, so I could keep track of whom I still needed to update.
    After sending a few of the monthly update letters, I began to see who was interested in me and who was not. The schools that were interested sent me personal letters and a number of emails. Those schools were Penn State, Virginia Tech, William and Mary, NC State, Santa Clara, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Furman, and Wofford. The schools that were not interested in me either did not respond to my letters and emails or just sent me monthly newsletters. The schools that did not respond to my contacts were Baylor, Duke, Florida, Northwestern, Pepperdine, Texas Christian, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest. Florida State, Michigan, Rice, Stanford, Texas, and Virginia showed little interest by just sending monthly newsletters. Appendix D exhibits a reply from a coach to a letter I sent.
    July 1 of the player’s junior year is likely the most important date in college tennis recruiting because coaches are allowed to call the player for the first time according to NCAA rules. After that, they can call once a week. The recruit may call the coaches as often as he likes, however, the coaches may not return missed calls beyond the one call per week. Unlimited calls may be made the five days before an official visit, the day of a coach’s off campus contact, and on the initial signing date for the National Letter of Intent through two days after the initial signing date (Dempsey). Most colleges who have a strong interest in the player will call him within a week of July 1. The schools that called me during the week of July 1 were Virginia Tech, PennState, Princeton, Notre Dame, Santa Clara, North Carolina, Harvard, North Carolina State, Wofford, North Carolina, WakeForest, and William & Mary. July 1 is when the recruiting really begins to escalate; the amount of correspondence may seem overwhelming. The recruit needs to stay organized so he can stay in control of the correspondence.
    It is a good idea for the recruit to have questions prepared in advance in case a coach calls. A great topic of conversation is the tennis team’s weight training. I asked Rod Ray, the men’s tennis coach at WoffordCollege, about the team workouts. “Our workouts are high intensity, fast paced, and fun. Players partner with someone of a similar strength level. The environment is very hard-working and supportive” (Ray). Other questions to ask are how long the team practices, how often they do weight training, and if they are on a special diet. Some other possible questions are these: How many players are currently on the team? What academic department is the school best known for? What kind of player is the coach looking for? For example, does he want a serve and volleyer, an aggressive baseliner, or a counterpuncher? If a coach that calls the player is from a top choice school, the player should bring up the topic of official visits. Often, coaches will give a few dates that the player can come during weekends in September and October when the school has a home football game. Otherwise, the coach will say he has to look at his schedule. If a coach has to “look at his schedule,” the player is probably not on his “A” list as a top priority recruit. My conversations with the coaches from William & Mary and the University of Southern California only lasted five minutes. My discussions with Penn State, NC State, Furman, and Wofford lasted over an hour. It is important to be extremely enthusiastic and not say anything that can be construed as a lack of interest (Reed). I kept a phone log of my conversations with coaches. At the end of each conversation, I took some notes on my reaction to the coach. I wrote pluses and minuses, things I learned about the school, and my guess of how interested the coach was. This is a great way to stay organized and log who has called. If I was not home when a coach called, my parents wrote down the coach’s name and number so I could call him back when I returned.
    Along the recruiting path, the player should evaluate his options by asking himself these questions: Which schools are showing the most interest? Is the academic program strong in my desired field of study? How would I fit in the tennis program; would I be able to play in a starting position in my freshman year? How would I fit in the college academically and socially? The player can use these questions to help him narrow down schools, but he should also think of some other important factors. For example, I placed a lot of importance on the quality of the academics. The player should try to talk to graduates of any schools that interest him, or, better yet, current students. It is also important for the player to get feedback from his parents, teachers, and coaches (Getting Athletes into College 28). These people can be a valuable source of information. I was able to talk to recent graduates from all of my top five schools. I was still having trouble deciding on schools, so I created a chart that had my top ten colleges at the top and about twenty-five important aspects on the side. I gave each aspect a point value from one to ten and added up points to determine my top five schools. Some criteria I used were: climate, size, campus, academic reputation, coach’s enthusiasm, tennis facilities, and team’s rank (Pratt).
     
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  4. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    College Tennis: Getting a Scholarship - part 4

    Continued...

    Before the player’s senior year begins, he should have about five top schools on his list. He should also have one or two backup schools. My five schools were North Carolina, Penn State, Furman, Wofford, and Wake Forest. I sent more personalized, handwritten letters to the coaches of those top five schools. The player should indicate his desire to go on an official visit to the school. This letter needs to include an official transcript because it is an NCAA rule that a college must have the player’s official transcript before having him for an official visit. I called the coaches and reiterated my interest to go on an official visit. I was able to set up official visits with North Carolina, Penn State, Furman, and Wofford. Wake Forest was apparently not interested; they did not return my calls or letters.
    A good time period to schedule official visits is September and October of the student’s senior year. According to NCAA rules, an official visit is an all-expense paid visit to a college (Dempsey). The student may have a maximum of five official visits that do not exceed forty-eight hours each. The visit includes a round trip plane ticket unless the college is very close. A player’s parents may not participate in the official visit, but they may travel with him. My four official visits were very similar in how the activities were scheduled. Usually, there will be about three other ******** on the visit at the same time. First, the ******** meet with the coach and tour the campus and tennis facilities. “******** must know that they are being evaluated every minute of a visit. That includes when they are away from the coaches and only with the college players. Anything they say or do can and will be held against them in a coach’s meeting” (Reed). On one of my visits, the coach had me meet with both the President and Vice-President of the college. Depending on time, the ******** may attend some classes and/or watch the team practice. Second, the ******** meet the team and their student hosts, and get situated in the dormitories. It is a good idea to ask lots of questions. I asked Ryan Berger, a player at Penn State, what the practices were like. “The practices are run well. We warm up for about 15 minutes to start. We do fast-paced drills and play tiebreakers. A few times a week, we play challenge matches. We run sprints for about 15 minutes, then stretch for 15 minutes” (Berger). I also asked him how the dining hall food was. “The food is awesome. The cafeterias have a large variety of entrees and desserts. It is like an all-you-can-eat buffet” (Berger). On my visit to Wofford, I asked Andrew Stubbs, my student host, about the dorms. “[The] dorms are a decent size, but bare to begin with. We fixed ours up pretty nicely by using space effectively” (Stubbs). Next, the ********, coaches, and the team may go out to eat at a very nice restaurant. After dinner, the ******** are entertained by their student hosts, members of the team. The student hosts will usually take the ******** out to parties. The next morning, the ******** spend the day with their student hosts. First, the ******** and hosts go to the dining hall to eat brunch. Then everyone goes to a home football game. After the game, the group goes out to dinner and probably to another party. At some point during the visit, the coach will meet with each recruit separately. The recruit should be careful not to say anything that could be construed as a lack of interest during the meeting (Reed). This is the recruit’s opportunity to excel and distinguish himself from the other ********. Finally, the recruit returns home.

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  5. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    College Tennis: Getting a Scholarship - part 5

    Continued...

    Upon return from the official visit, the player needs to contact the coach by phone, email, or letter. He should mention the things he liked most about the visit. This could include meeting the team, the campus, facilities, watching a practice, et cetera. Once again, the player needs to express extreme interest and enthusiasm to the coach. It is a good idea for the player to include specific reasons why he wants to be at the school. The player may be tempted to talk about scholarships, but it is best to wait until mid October to bring up that topic. The player should inform the coach that he is committed to playing all four years. “Coaches at selective schools are terrified that they are being used by a student who wants admission, but who plans to quit [the sport] after he is admitted” (Reed).
    Close to October tenth is a good time for the recruit to start contacting coaches about scholarships because the early signing period starts in November. It is important to be enthusiastic, not pushy. One can simply say, “Have you thought about a scholarship for me yet?” At this point, the coach will do one of three things: make an offer, ask for more time, or decline. In my case, Penn State and Wofford immediately made offers, Furman asked for more time, and North Carolina declined. This brings up another important point. Some schools may give a deadline by which they need to have a decision. Penn State is an example: they gave me a week to make my decision. A deadline is not a bad thing; it simply means that the coach has lots of ********. If given a deadline, it helps to call any coaches who have asked for more time and tell them, “I need to know where you stand on my scholarship because I have been given a deadline by another school.” Usually the coach will be understanding and reply quickly. This is what I had to do with Furman because Penn State gave me the deadline before I received an offer from Furman. Thankfully, the Furman coach quickly called me back with an offer. In my experience, the scholarship process is similar to a business deal; it is very stressful and should be handled only by the recruit himself. It is discouraging to be denied a scholarship from a school, but it is unlikely that all of the colleges will decline if the player has chosen schools that fit him well.
    Upon hearing his scholarship offers, the player can make a decision about where he wants to attend college. I recommend creating a chart with schools at the top, criteria along the side, and giving point values for each of the criteria. It is helpful to form the chart by concentrating on items that were observed during visits. Some possible factors are climate, size, campus, academic reputation, coach’s enthusiasm, tennis facilities, team’s rank, players on the team, tennis program, scholarship offer, quality of student life, dormitories, dining hall, diversity, post-graduate placement rates, and academic support. This chart can help eliminate some colleges, but should not be used as the final deciding factor because so much of the college experience is subjective and based on what “feels” right. For example, my ultimate choice of Furman was ranked second on my chart! By points, PennState was ranked first on the chart. Each player has to decide what is most important to him in order to make the final decision. Next, the recruit needs to accept an offer and receive a verbal commitment from a coach. After doing this, the player should call all the coaches from the schools that he has gone to on official visits to tell them his decision. For me, these calls were very difficult. I had developed great respect for coaches Bortner and Potoczny of Penn State and coaches Ray and Hahn of Wofford. Turning down their offers was painful for me even though I knew I had made the best decision in choosing FurmanUniversity.
    The National Letter of Intent is a document that a recruit signs to verify that he will attend the institution for one year in return for athletics financial aid for one year (Collegiate Commissioners Association). Once a player signs the National Letter of Intent, other schools may not recruit him any longer (Collegiate Commissioners Association). The first signing period for tennis starts November 13 and continues to November 20 (Collegiate Commissioners Association). The player may sign the National Letter of Intent before he receives final certification from the NCAA Clearinghouse (Collegiate Commissioners Association). The National Letter of Intent is a very serious document. A parent or legal guardian must sign the Letter in addition to the recruit, and the college coach may not be present at the time of signing. If the player does not fulfill the National Letter of Intent, he will lose one year of his eligibility at the school he attends (Collegiate Commissioners Association). Many players will want to sign during this early period because it takes a lot of pressure off. For example, the week after I signed with Furman, I won the biggest tournament of my life. I really felt a huge burden come off my chest. If the player does not sign during the early period, he will have plenty of time later. The regular signing period lasts from April 16 until August 1 (Collegiate Commissioners Association). An advantage of signing in the later period is that the player will have more time to hear about scholarship offers from other schools. For example, the coaches from the College of Charleston and Birmingham Southern University wanted to talk to me about a scholarship. I also received offers from the Universities of Oklahoma and Florida for academic scholarships. The player should only sign during the early period if he is completely satisfied with his choice of school and scholarship package.
    After signing, I had a few questions to ask my new coach, Paul Scarpa of FurmanUniversity. Could I buy some of the team’s clothing at a reduced price? Could I practice with the players on the team? It turns out that the NCAA has a lot of rules governing these topics. A newly signed player is not allowed to have any clothing that someone from the public can not get. Clothing is not allowed to be given for free or for a reduced price. A newly signed player is allowed to practice with a player on the team if the coach does not arrange the practice or see him play. The reason for this is the NCAA does not want a player to begin practicing before he begins his freshman year as a student-athlete. These rules are in place to make sure that all players are treated fairly and to take pressure off of the coach and future team members (Scarpa).
     
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  6. rilokiley

    rilokiley Professional

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    *round of applause*

    This should be a sticky.
    Thanks a lot, 911!
     
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  7. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    Thanks. I just hope it will be useful.
     
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  8. Saito

    Saito Professional

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    Cheers! :-D
     
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  9. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    If anyone wants the works cited, I can probably dig it up.

    Thanks Saito.
     
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  10. smittysan89

    smittysan89 Professional

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    Sorry sort of off topic, do you have any information about walking on to play?
     
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  11. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    Sorry, unfortunately I don't. My project and research was focused on the scholarship aspect. Many aspects should be similar though (like contacting the coaches and going on unofficial visits)
     
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  12. smittysan89

    smittysan89 Professional

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    ok thanks
     
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  13. pro_staff

    pro_staff Semi-Pro

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    wow. great piece of work. thanks a lot. i'm a sophomore right now in high school and i was looking for something like this. thanks a lot and good work

    but i'm also interested in walk-on to play on college team. i noticed you are currently a player right now. perhaps you can ask your coach about it? i would appreciate it and i'm sure alot of people here would too
     
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  14. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    If you ask me some specific questions, I'm pretty sure I could answer them.

    I probably won't ask my coach right now because we are in season and he is extremely busy.

    Again, I'm glad to help if you have some specific questions.
     
    #14
  15. FREDDY

    FREDDY Semi-Pro

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    good stuff ive only read the first two entries im tired. good stuff though.
     
    #15
  16. donnyz89

    donnyz89 Hall of Fame

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    thanks a lot, I'm printing it up right now... but yes, do ask about walk ons. Personally, I'm hoping to get to 4.0 by my senior year and maybe walk on onto a weaker DIII school.
     
    #16
  17. jax11213

    jax11213 New User

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    What number do you play? You all played Washington and Lee this year, how are they?

    Also, did you grow up in South Carolina and what are some of the best rankings you've achieved and your best tournaments?

    Thanks for providing an invaluable resource
     
    #17
  18. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    I play #5.

    W&L was pretty good for a DIII team, but we won easily without most people who normally play in our lineup. I did not play in that match.

    I grew up in South Carolina.
    My best rankings: Age divisions 16s or 18s
    In SC - #1
    In Southeast (USTA Southern) - #3
    In USA - #35

    My best tournaments were an 18s Southern Designated in Mobile, AL that I won, a 16s Southern Desgnate at Clemson, SC that I got 2nd, and a National Open in 16s that I got 2nd. At the state level, I have won many tournaments.
     
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  19. jhhachamp

    jhhachamp Hall of Fame

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    Wow, this is very throrough and well thought out, I am impressed. If I was in a position to get a tennis scholarship, this would be extremely useful.

    I am amazed at how much time and dedication you put into this. I really did not put much thought at all into where to go to college. I merely created a list of like 10 schools at the end of my junior year with the help of my guidance counselor and limited that down to 5. I visited all 5 schools that summer and the next fall and was accepted into all 5. Before coming to college, however, I really had no idea what I wanted out of a college. I merely picked Cornell because it's engineering program had the best reputation of the 5. If I was applying now, I would apply to schools all over the US rather than only the northeast. I also wish I had realized before I came here how much I dislike the cold! I think if I had the knowledge I do now about what things I like and dislike, I would have found a better fit. For example, I had no idea before coming here that I disliked the cold so much or that I would enjoy being in a big city. Anyway, even though the school is probably not the best fit, I met too many good friends here to ever consider transferring. I am looking forward to graduating though, I only have to endure one more winter here! After that I think I will want to move somewhere warm and near a big city.

    Anyway, congrats on finding such a great fit, it took me a few years at college and some travel to get a feel for what would be a good fit for me. It seems pretty crazy that someone who was ranked as high as #35 in the country would have to go through so much trouble to get scholarships, and even then have many schools uninterested. It shows just how hard it is to land one of those. If you are not in the top 150 in the country you probably have no realistic chance of landing a top D1 tennis scholarship.
     
    #19
  20. jax11213

    jax11213 New User

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    Recent article done on international players taking all the scholarships in Tennis Magazine, do most college tennis players find this to be true?
     
    #20
  21. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    Yes. A large percentage of College players are foreign - at least at the DI level. My team only has two foreigners, but both went to high school in the USA.
     
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  22. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    Getting tennis scholarships is harder and harder, especially for males.

    Serveitup, I didn't real a lot of your paper, and I am not sure if you mentioned this but at all D1 school, the max of scholarships for men's tennis is 4.5. A coach can split this up in any number of ways (4 full and one half, or 6 three-quarters, etc.) but unless, you are a top, top player, the odds of getting a full scholarship is extremely tough. I personally do not know the competitiveness of Furman but for me, and going to a school with a top 5 tennis team in men's (and women's), the only men's player on full scholarship this year was our number one and two, and possibly 3rd single as all of them were rated in the top 50 of college tennis in singles. Almost everybody else had half scholarship or less and some even paid the full 40k+ a year. Also, to be on the team, even as a walk-on, you had to be at least that a top 25 to top 100 player. One of my best friends, who ended up transfering to Cornell to play, was a top 200 player and went to my university for academics and to try to walk-on. The coach wouldn't take him, even though he was a top 200 in 18s.

    For women's it is much easier as they are 10 full scholarships possible. 8 full scholarships to for the team, and 2 additional scholarships for practice players. Damn Title IX.

    The element of foreigners makes it even harder for American born and raised players to get scholarships. My school's mens team has 3 foreigners on the starting 6 and one foreign born and american raised as part of the starting 6. But nowadays, coaches are so concerned about winning while following the rules, they take the best players, as they should, no matter where they were born
     
    #22
  23. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    Servitup911 is being a little modest here. While many of you may not be familiar with Furman University, it is a premeir academic school with a great athletic department. Both men's and women's tennis coaches have been there for decades and are uncommonly successful in recruitingand developing their teams. Paul Scarpa, the men's coach, and Debbie Southern, the women's coach, demand a lot from their players in effort, dedication and physical fitness. But from an official's viewpoint, these teams are the best in sportsmanship I have ever been around. Neither do they shy away from playing the big schools from the ACC or SEC. Just an all around great program. Recruiting great young players like Serveitup911, and he is very good, is just a continuation of their plan for success.
     
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  24. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    911 - Great work. Your systematic approach is to be commended. Did you consciously choose to avoid describing the NAIA process? Do you know how different it might be?

    Penn State was your #1? I thought you started off by posting you didn't like the *cold*?!!
    ______________

    I DO NOT advocate anyone following my approach to getting a scholarship: My parents were so disgusted with my lackadaisical college search (I applied to six schools as a HS Senior; got accepted by all; and didn't care about any of them. I just applied to get my folks off my back.) they determined my sister was going to follow a regimen. She was a year behind me.

    We loaded the family in the car and spent that summer vacation visiting colleges for sis. I went because Mom and Dad refused to let me stay home....

    One college was a small NAIA II school in Alabama where my older brother's buddy and doubles partner at his college was Dean of Students and Tennis Coach. After touring the campus and treating us to lunch, we were about to load into the car. Coach asked me to come up to his office, where he offered me a tennis scholarship ... and he'd never even seen me play(!).

    Just that morning he had been informed his Top Prospect accepted an offer from UTC (Chattenooga). (Why on Earth, he thought his little NAIA school could "compete" with UTC for this guy (Kyle Henderson) I'll never know.) Coach had put "all his recruiting eggs" in the "Kyle basket." And didn't know WHO he would try and recruit. (It was his first year as Tennis Coach; he didn't know what he was doing.)

    Floored, I protested, "Coach, you've never even seen me hit a ball!!!"

    "If I don't *use* the scholarship money, I lose it. Besides, I know your brother, and your family is a tennis family. I'd like to give the scholarship to someone I know instead of losing it...."

    We went down to the car and spoke to my folks. Ten minutes later, they drove out of the main driveway and I was at college ... three weeks before Orientation even started.

    To this day I still thank Kyle for declining that scholarship....
    ______________

    Seriously, I think the NAIA rules are somewhat different. (Back in the 70s, when I was in school, they were certainly different than what 911 presents.)

    - KK
     
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  25. tonysk83

    tonysk83 Semi-Pro

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    HAHAH, that is a very funny story KK.

    Serveitup, that is some great advice, I read the entire thing, although I almost went blind reading all those words at 10:30 at night.

    I really wish I could find more information on walking onto tennis teams at lower end DIV3 schools. There are a lot of high quality div 3 schools out there with great academics and not that great of tennis programs. I really just want to keep playing in college, but I still want a very good academic school. I have found a few div 3 schools with great academics and fairly weak tennis programs, but I don't want to go to these schools, then not make the tennis team and be stuck at a college I don't want to go to as much as a bigger div 1 school closer to home that I like more.
     
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  26. johnkidd

    johnkidd Semi-Pro

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    Serveitup911...how was it to play at UGA over the w/e? I know it must suck you guys drew them in the first round but as someone who played at a small school where tennis was and still is an afterthought it must be unreal to play there.
     
    #26
  27. DRtenniS1112

    DRtenniS1112 Semi-Pro

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    I agree with all of this. I actuallly turned down a DII scholarship because it was not enough money and the school was extremely expensive. So here I am playing DIII and i love it because everyone here wants to be here. We are a really good team ranging from strong 5.0's to strong 4.5's. I know someone made the point about foreigners and I was the only American offered a scholarship to the DII school because they did a lot of recruiting in South America.
    Also someone mentioned the availabilty of scholarships to males. I just want to point out one example. A girl who played for my high school was a second doubles player and never strong at all. I honestly would rate her at a 2.5-3.0 for females. She was offered a scholarship to play tennis because they need to equal out to what they give the males. It may not be like this everywhere but it is just ridiculous. But hey, ladies, check into it because I am sure you can find some deals.
     
    #27
  28. tennisfreak412

    tennisfreak412 Rookie

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    911,
    I'm a high school freshman right now, and I'm planning a heavy tournament schedule from now until I finish high school-I'm really intent on playing in college, especially at some school that you mentioned, like Harvard. My queston is, how many state-level tournaments should I fit in IYO. I have heard differing opinions on how much college coaches care about state levels. Also, could you post some of the Appendixes?

    Thanks
     
    #28
  29. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Yes. Title IX has been a bane to Men's programs ... and a boon to Women's tennis in colleges. HS girls, take note....

    - KK
     
    #29
  30. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    412,

    You don't need to focus too much on the State level tournaments if you are having success at the sectional and national level. If you are not yet having success at the sec and nat level, you should play as many state tournaments as you can so you can win some.

    Keep the goal in mind to do well at the sec. and nat. level because that is what coaches at the better schools look for.

    Sorry, but I don't think I'll post the appendices. They have a lot of personal information and I wouldn't want people to copy my format (not necessarily you).

    I hope this helps.
     
    #30
  31. johnkidd

    johnkidd Semi-Pro

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    Also make sure you take your high school matches seriously. Even if you are only playing doubles, you can find some school to play at because in college in most cases you are playing both singles and doubles. Learn to play both sides of the court and play with different players if you get the chance. The more adaptable you are the more value you are to a program.

    I did not have the best junior career, but I had a decent high school career and was recruited by several smaller schools. I was a solid B student so the smaller schools could get me in no problem. I also had the chance to walk on at a DI school. The thing about playing at a smaller school (DIII or NAIA) is they don't have the Title IX hanging over them and you'll be amazed if they want you the grant money they come up with if you have good grades and do well on the ACT/SAT.
     
    #31
  32. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    Wait.. somebody here as a athletic scholarship to DIII... those don't exist.. at least not legally
     
    #32
  33. johnkidd

    johnkidd Semi-Pro

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    They don't, but your smaller schools usually have better financial aid departments, so they'll find you all kinds of grants and academic scholarships. DII schools and NAIA schools can give athletic scholarships.
     
    #33
  34. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    I think Title IX has begun to hit the DIII schools too. The University I graduated from is DIII ... and recently dropped Men's tennis. Women's is going strong. The Alumni magazine blamed Title IX.

    We had two players on that DIII team who were getting academic scholarships ... but lots of people believed they were really "athletic" scholarships. Problme was, they both had 4.0s. Kinda tough to make that Conspiracy Theory stick, but I've heard of other DIII schools where there were lots of "winks" at the academic scholarships.

    - KK
     
    #34
  35. tennisfreak412

    tennisfreak412 Rookie

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    I've got something that may seem like a stupid question, but I can't figure out. If you are contacting coaches, taking visits etc., do you still need to make an actual, "normal" application to the school? For example, if Junior X was being heavily recruited by Johns Hopkins, they would still have to make a regular application, whether they are signing early, or late right? Or how does this work. Also, can someone direct me towards links about all this happening at the DIII level? I know there are some differences, like no LOI or scholarships, but I'd like to find out more.

    Thanks
     
    #35
  36. serveitup911

    serveitup911 Semi-Pro

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    Yes, you would still have to fill out a normal application, but it is really just a formality. At least, in my experience.
     
    #36
  37. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    You have to get in to the school first. The admissions dept. will expedite your process but you still have to turn in an application will all test scores and transcripts. Coaches extend you an offer as either a preferred walk-on or scholarship with the expectation that you will get in to the school. You will have not as strict standards to meet when you are being recruited heavily but you still have to apply and get in to the school.

    Also, I don't know why a lot of people go DIII. I can see why if you are an English lit major going to Williams/Amherst or physics major going to Caltech but whats the incentive going to not great academic DIII schools so you can just play tennis?
     
    #37
  38. DashaandSafin

    DashaandSafin Hall of Fame

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    Do you swim at Cornell? And what state are you from?
     
    #38
  39. tennisfreak412

    tennisfreak412 Rookie

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    chris, you actually hit the nail on the head for me. I'm really interested in going to either Caltech, WashU St. Louis, Johns Hopkins, or MIT, among others. But these schools that I mentioned are all DIII, and all have great academic reputations, and I would love to play tennis for them
     
    #39
  40. johnkidd

    johnkidd Semi-Pro

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    Most of your smaller schools are very strong academically, which is how they survive because most are private and receive very little if any state money.
     
    #40
  41. DashaandSafin

    DashaandSafin Hall of Fame

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    What is a walkon? (Sorry for sounding stupid)
     
    #41
  42. jhhachamp

    jhhachamp Hall of Fame

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    No I don't swim here, but I do play on the club tennis team here. We have a very good team, one of the best in the country and have done well in nationals the past 2 years. I am originally from NJ.
     
    #42
  43. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Someone not recruited or scholarshipped. After enrolling and arriving, they just "walk on" to the team tryouts ... and make the team.

    - KK
     
    #43
  44. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    Walk on is the general term for a non-scholarship player that is part of the official roster of the team.

    They can be preferred (recruited by the coach but no scholarship.. yet) or regular (not recruited but still want to play)
     
    #44
  45. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    chrisplchs - I've never heard that "preferred" term used for Walk Ons. It "broadens" the category somewhat, doesn't it?

    (As it's been 30 years since I was in college, I'm allowing that things may have changed....)

    - KK
     
    #45
  46. chrisplchs

    chrisplchs Professional

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    I am not sure if "preferred" is the correct word.

    There are walk-ons that get in to the school first and then decide to try their hand in sports.. thats what i think of as a "true" or regular walk on. No help from the coaches or department to get in to school. Got in to school via own academic merits

    Then there are the "preferred" or "recruited" or any other words, walkons. Coaches recruit them because they aren't good enough for a scholarship but still want to go to that school and be part of the program. Coaches will help get them in (lower standards when compared to the rest of the school, but higher than the scholarship players), but no financial aid from the department will be provided.

    This could primarily be mainly that of a football thing but i think it can be applied to all sports in college
     
    #46
  47. johnkidd

    johnkidd Semi-Pro

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    I've heard of guys who get asked to walk on at schools. Guess you could apply the term "preferred" to them. Chester Taylor who plays for the Ravens was asked to Walk On at Michigan, but instead went to Toledo where they had money for him to play. I think in mens tennis it might not be uncommon to ask guys to walk on since money is so limited and maybe give them something after a year or two.
     
    #47
  48. DashaandSafin

    DashaandSafin Hall of Fame

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    According to what I know...just about every player in D1 is pretty much preferred. Probably even D3. Its not like HS tennis right?
     
    #48
  49. Volly master

    Volly master Semi-Pro

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    excellent essay, well written too
     
    #49
  50. DashaandSafin

    DashaandSafin Hall of Fame

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    Sweet im from NJ too. What school and what part?
     
    #50

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