Originally Posted by Coach Carter
As a college tennis coach...I gotta say you need to do some research. You need to go watch matches for schools of all sizes...even D3. The reason why...you may realize you have work to do still to make a team at any level. I am not saying it to be ugly, but I coach at a D3 and we play D1's every year and beat them badly. It's more about finding a school where you can get a great education and where the team is "like you". When I say that, I mean if you're aggressive then that's the kind of team you need to find. Would you want to play at a D1 where you get no scholarship and play 12 matches a year (losing 11 of them)...while not even traveling out of the state...where the players and coach don't even take it serious? Would you want to play at D3 where you get a nice academic or merit scholarship and play 28 matches a year...while traveling all over (including an 8 day spring break trip)...where all the players were highly ranked and are pushing to win a title? The tough decision is there to make. Are you more interested in your friends "thinking" you play somewhere big...when you may get a t-shirt and string some racquets for the "real players"...or do you really want to be a "difference maker" on a team? Look at rosters on the internet...research the players (jrs rankings)...see where you would probably be. If you haven't got some attention from a big school coach by the end of jr year, then it's all up hill. The other thing most kids or parents don't realize...a "fully funded" D1 men's team has 4.5 scholarships and a women's has 8...in D2 it's 4.5 and 6 respectively. That's not 4.5 new each year! Look at rosters and see how many foreign players are there. You'd also be surprised at how few of the teams are fully funded (have all their scholarships)...I'd say about 60% of D1's and far less than 50% of D2's have their scholarships...on the guys side of things. It's all about educating yourself and asking yourself how much you truly want to play college tennis. It can be a great experience...don't be a sheep...be a leader and do something amazing!!!
This is by far one of the best written posts on this subject. The only thing that I would like to add is the maturity process. Some athletes mature sooner than others and therefore as a D1 walkon / hitting partner, a late bloomer, as they say, would never have a chance to bloom. Whereas that same player at a D2 or D3 would have a chance to bloom.
Playing at a D2 or D3 or even at a JC does not preclude you from playing Mens Opens, futures qualies or other experience producing events.
Being realistic as to where you are today is probably one of the hardest things an athlete and parent can realize.
College of the Desert is a perfect example of a JC that consistently produces high quality tennis players. Yet who wants to go there to grow up, mature and become a better D1 - D3 player in your last two or three years of eligibility. I certainly would, and would encourage anyone who is a late bloomer to do likewise.
Again very well written.