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Choosing to commit to the journey of college tennis is now lauded as being a magnificent decision for a young Aussie player.

The premise of playing tennis at an extremely high level while still studying and completing a degree that is essentially paid for is not only enticing but seems almost too good to be true.

While college tennis certainly can be extremely fulfilling in many different aspects of life, this article aims to help you determine whether college tennis truly is the best decision for you, your child, or your student.

First and foremost, it is integral to mention that I myself am a collegiate player. As a current senior in my final playing season at Georgia Gwinnett College, I feel that my experience and input provide an unbiased account of every side of college tennis.

While the past three and a half years have been a rollercoaster of experiences, I can definitely say that I wish I had a better idea of what was waiting for me on the other side of the world.

Do not get me wrong, I believe it was the right decision for me to grow as not only a player and student but also a person. But there are certain elements of this life-changing experience that are simply not discussed enough for players, parents, and coaches to truly understand what college tennis entails.

To begin with, committing to a collegiate program is something that is extremely monumental and must be treated as such. No matter whether you choose to work with a collegiate agency or even by yourself as I did, you are going to have to put in a lot of work before you can board that flight to the US.

During the recruiting process you need to understand that no matter how “amazing” one program may seem it is not about whether the school “fits” you, it is about whether you “fit” the school. By this I mean that just like a tennis match, on paper there may be a clear winner but once you step out on the court the odds are always 50/50.

This is exactly the same when it comes to the school you decide to choose. Currently, there are thousands of options between the NCAA Div. I, II, and III, and also the NAIA (which I compete in) and NJCAA organizations.

Regardless of the route you choose, you will have to make sure sure that you take the right high school classes for US colleges. You also need to make sure you have good grades, and that this reflects on your high school completion certificate.

Then there is the process of completing SAT exams (which are still mandatory in some colleges), sending all high school documents to INCRED (an organization that evaluates your high school results to translate them with the US school system), completing all extra paperwork and correspondence with your school, then applying for the correct US student visa and completing your interview.

Regardless of the scholarship offered to you, there is a lengthy and costly process before you can book your flight to the US.

While a school may have a great history, championship rings, and a stellar campus, you may not “fit”. What I mean by this is that you really need to study every aspect of wherever you are thinking of going.

When a coach reaches out, you need to make sure they are open to video and Facetime calls and actually put an interest into speaking with you and answering questions. It is crucial to find a coach that you can connect with and communicate well and that truly supports you in your journey.

Finding a passionate and communicative coach is integral to finding the best fit possible. A common red flag with coaches is ones that do not wish to speak often, ones that pressure you into a quick decision, and also ones that do not answer questions or make promises that are way too good to be true.

Make sure to further research the information provided to you by coaches on the Internet and social media as well as reaching out to current players on the team. Having more background information can help you make a more informed decision about the different possibilities of where you eventually want to go to.

In addition, it is also important to keep your options open and spend a good amount of time finding the pros and cons of each school with interest in you. The more you speak with coaches and the more research you do along with speaking to their players will give you a good feel for where you may be most comfortable.

If you are the type of person and player that needs to shine to play your best a smaller school where you could be at the top of the line-up may be a good fit. If you need constant competition and that extra push to reach your best level a bigger school with a tougher line-up may be more towards what you are looking for.

A good rule of thumb is the more research and time you spend, the better the decision you will probably make. It is important to note it is up to you whether you would rather be a

small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a small one. Both have their advantages.

This next paragraph may be the most important take-away from the entire article. Going to play college tennis is a full-time, 24/7, 4-year commitment. As an Australian, you will be away from home on the other side of the world, far from all your family and friends.

Not only will you have a full tennis and school workload but most of your days will be entirely occupied with anything from gym, practice, classes, and rehabilitation.

You will make incredible new friends and experience independence like never before. You will also grow and mature in ways you never thought possible. But you really need to ask yourself if you are prepared for the mental, physical, and spiritual sacrifice that college tennis entails.

College tennis certainly is not for everyone, and there is no shame in that. But you need to know 100% what you are getting yourself into to be able to stay prepared for what is ahead and make the best of the incredible opportunity that college tennis can be.

There will be days when you think you can not get out of bed and there will be days that you cry from homesickness. But there will also be matches where you are deep in the third set and all your teammates are willing to you on, screaming in support as you clinch a match that makes everything worthwhile. In short, you will experience the highest highs and the lowest lows on the rollercoaster that is college tennis.

Furthermore, no matter all the preparation you truly can not know if college tennis or the

school you have selected is right for you until you are actually there. There have been countl ess cases of amazing players not being able to find their footing in college, andlackluster players finding their best game with the pressure and support from the new collegiate environment.

It is all about how you adapt to the new society and the expectations placed on you. However, never feel compelled to stay the whole 4 years in an environment that is not right for you.

New transfer portals and procedures are making it much easier for athletes to have the option to switch schools and find a better fit for them. I myself transferred after my old head coach switched schools and felt with my level and ability I deserved a better chance to shine at a school with better facilities and opportunities.

There are many things that can compel athletes to transfer from bad relationships with coaches and teammates, poor facilities and treatment, or even just the location of their school.

Whatever the reason may be, know there are options for finding a better fit if the school you

are in is not the correct fit for you.

But make sure to follow all the procedures for the division and association that your school is in to avoid penalties or issues.

In summary, college tennis is certainly a big decision to make. However, it is an individual experience that is different for everyone.

It is important to first of all know yourself, your character, and your game and then prepare as best as you can for what you are about to get yourself into.

Know that this is a life-changing decision, that can be absolutely amazing but also incredibly difficult at the same time. As an Australian, college tennis is definitely a great option to explore and build your future as a player and a student if it is the right fit for you.


Delyth Samuel
Delyth Samuel

great article. My son is also in his senior year and it is really full on doing your study, training and playing - but he has loved it.

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