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).