Articles relating to recruiting & college tennis, college tennis coaching, and playing college tennis including NCAA eligibility, official & unofficial visits, choosing the right school, dealing with injury, and what to do if you want or need to transfer
I’ve written and discussed the differences between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in college tennis quite a bit over the past several months. My reason for doing so is two-fold:
I think it’s important for junior players and their families to have an understanding of what to expect in terms of facilities, equipment, support, travel, etc. when they visit and commit to a college tennis program; and
I think it’s important as a community that we understand why some programs have all the latest bells and whistles while others don’t even have crack-free courts or scoreboards.
So, in keeping with this topic, I found it extremely interesting to look at Darryl Cummings‘s chart listing the operating budget of hundreds of college tennis programs across all divisions. These numbers are from 2014, so they are a bit dated, but I suspect things haven’t changed all that much in three years.
University of South Carolina in the SEC has the largest overall budget at $1,244,834.00 on the men’s side and $1,422,750.00 on the women’s side. That’s a far cry from the $2841.00 budget at Ulster County Community College and even top D3 contender Emory University at $449,836.00!
The CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, Tim Russell, is my guest on next week’s podcast, and we talk about this issue in addition to many others. I hope you’ll tune in starting Tuesday at 11amET – you can find the ParentingAces podcast on iTunes, the Podcast App, Stitcher, and on this website as well.
Please click on the link below, take a look at the numbers, and share your thoughts in the Comments area below.
I’ve posted 2 articles and devoted an episode of the ParentingAces podcast to USTA’s first college combine, so it’s only fitting that I do a follow-up piece on the event.
Players checked into the National Tennis Center at Lake Nona in Orlando on Wednesday, June 14th 4-7pm. Match play and fitness testing conducted by Mark Kovacs (click here for a video of Mark and Stephen Amritraj during the event) began the following morning at 8am. All play and fitness testing was finished on Friday by 1:30pm giving players and their families time to travel back home or stay and explore all the offerings in the Orlando area for the weekend.
USTA should be very pleased with the number and diversity of participants for its first combine. When I looked at the player list on the Match!Tennis App, I saw the 122 competitors ranged in UTR from 3 to 13, quite a large span of experience and expertise. Looking at the actual draws on the TennisLink page, it seems it was a challenge to provide competitive matches for many of the players, with several of the kids posting 6-0, 6-1, and 6-2 scores for the majority of the rounds in the main draw and more of the same in the consolation brackets.
To get the inside scoop on the combine since I couldn’t be there myself, I reached out to a junior coach who took several players to Orlando for the event as well as a parent who traveled there with her son (who, it turns out, won the boys draw). Interestingly, they had very different answers to my questions.
ParentingAces (PA): Why did you decide to travel to the Combine? What did you hope to get out of it?
Coach: When I saw the advertising for it, I contacted the event director to find out more details about it. I thought it might be a great chance for players to play in front of coaches and get a chance to talk with those coaches as well. Plus, we got to vacation in Orlando also.
Parent: We decided to travel to the Combine because my son was injured and out for over 2 years, and this was a quick way to get remembered and noticed by college coaches before regaining points and a ranking, etc.
PA: What is the most valuable thing you took away from the experience?
Coach: I really got nothing of value from the event other than seeing the USTA National Campus for the first time.
Parent: For us, the most valuable thing was touching base with college coaches and also getting another data point indicating that he is right up there with his peers again.
PA: How did the match play competition compare to other junior tourney experiences?
Coach: It was not good. The main draw played one 6 game no-ad set and the consolation played one 4 game no-ad set. I had 2 issues with the scoring format they used. 1. Playing a 4 game short set means that it will not count for UTR rating for the players. So only the players that stayed in the main draw will have their matches count for UTR. 2. Because they used a tournament format, the NCAA coaches were not allowed to talk with the players in the tournament about recruiting. So you put on an event that is advertised to bring players together with coaches and they can’t talk with each other about recruiting. Not thought through very well at all.
Parent: It was a little spottier in the beginning rounds because the UTRs ranged from around 6 to 13+.
PA: Did you have a chance to interact personally with college coaches? If so, what did you learn from those experiences?
Coach: I was able to learn that most college coaches were only there for the ITA college coaches workshop and not the combine. Some came to see a player or two that they had already been talking to, but for a majority of players at the combine, they still went unseen.
Parent: Yes, there was ample opportunity for that as the college coaches were easy to identify. I learned a bit about different programs and how players are supported and developed.
PA: Was there a parent education component? If so, what was the most valuable part and what would you like to see improved for next year?
Coach: There was nothing to educate the parents. They split the kids up into 3 groups that they rotated between the 1. fitness testing; 2. college info session; 3. how to talk one-on-one with a coach session. I will talk about fitness testing later. The college info session had the potential to be great, but they didn’t have any college coaches there. They brought in 2 of the USTA player development coaches to talk with the kids, one of which admitted that he did not go to college and didn’t really know anything about the process. They put a list of 10 things to do in recruiting on a TV monitor but gave no details on how to execute them and did not give a handout to the players with the list on it. They spent a majority of the time telling about and selling the USTA PTM Professional Tennis Management program to all the kids. The how to talk to a coach session was for players only and they wouldn’t let the parents into it.
Parent: No there was no parent education component. The event was just 1 1/2 days and was jam packed with 6 one set matches and fitness. I think the parents would have had a hard time not watching the tennis because it was exciting with all the sudden death points, etc.
PA: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience? Maybe the fitness testing component and its value?
Coach: The fitness testing was the only somewhat highlight of the event. I say somewhat because if they don’t send all the testing info to the players to use for recruiting purposes then it was a waste of time also. I will say the kids had a lot of fun doing the testing but I don’t think the organizers did a good job of telling the players how important it was to give 100% during the testing because a lot of players just coasted through it. But I understand why also, because they did the testing at the end of the day after the players had been playing tennis all day and most were exhausted.
I have to question the motives, other than money, for having the event. It cost each player $350 to play, they received a T shirt and a lunch voucher for the Net Post Grill on site. Of the 4 players that I had participate, 2 played one 6 game set & five 4 game sets, 1 played two 6 game sets & two 4 game sets, 1 played one 6 game set & three 4 game sets. And there was no award for winning the consolation draw.
In my opinion this event started off as potentially a great idea to bring players and coaches together, but the details were not thought through well at all. I grade the event an F and will not recommend this to my players in the future, unless major changes are made.
Parent: It was great!! It was the first time we saw the USTA national campus and it is beyond expectations! The fitness testing results will be emailed to participants in a week or so and will be helpful to identify strengths and weaknesses to work on.
I followed up with the parent once I learned her son had won the event. As the winner, he received a Wild Card into an upcoming USTA Pro Circuit tournament. I asked what it means to her son to win the combine and if he will approach the pro circuit event any differently than other tournaments he’s played? She responded, “In general this win is meaningful because it gets the attention of college coaches by letting his racket do the talking! It also shows them RJ is good at the fast-paced college format. Personally it is another great data point for RJ showing that although he was out of tennis for over 2 years, he is right up there with his peers and then some… He is psyched about getting a Futures wildcard too! He won’t approach it any differently from any other tournament though because he works hard any time he steps out on the court and gives 100% in any matches or tournaments he plays regardless of what it is or it’s perceived importance.” For those interested in watching the Combine Finals, you can do so below.
It sounds like there were many positive aspects of the USTA’s first combine and many areas in which they can improve moving forward. From my perspective, adding a parent education piece is critical to the future success of these events. I love the fitness testing component and look forward to hearing from those of you who were there how you’re using the information gleaned from the report.
Congratulations to RJ Fresen (age 16) and Anika Yarlagadda (age 15) for winning the event and earning the Wild Card! A big thank you to photographer Bill Kallenberg of Captured in Action and Kathleen Horvath for the photos in the slideshow. For more information on the combine, click here to read USTA’s article. If any of you were at the Combine and would like to share your experience, please do so in the Comments.
I had a ball covering the 2017 NCAA Tennis Championships! In addition to the slideshow below, click here to read my post on the Championships, and here and here to listen to my podcasts recorded during the Championships.
The past 12 days at the NCAAs at the University of Georgia have been incredible! The level of tennis and sportsmanship exhibited by the student-athletes, coaches, and fans (well, mostly!) has been superb. I ran into some old friends (including Stanford Super Fan, Cliff Hayashi!) and made some new ones. I even had the opportunity to meet some long-time digital friends in person – including College10s2day’s Bobby Knight – what a treat!
During the 2nd week of the Championships, the ITA held its annual Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet. It was overwhelming to be in the company of so much College Tennis Royalty! I had the unique privilege of sitting next to Nick Bollettieri throughout the evening and to be regaled by his many, many stories of his life in tennis. I was also sitting adjacent to Hall of Fame Inductee James Blake and had so much fun watching him interact with his adorable little girls.
At this year’s Championships, I wanted to give y’all a glimpse at some of the people who make this event so great, so I reached out to some of the players, parents, and behind-the-scenes folks involved. The volunteers from UGA did an incredible job of keeping things running, including squeegeeing courts, manning the gates, and keeping all of us fed and hydrated. I hope those of you on Twitter and Instagram enjoyed my updates there, too!
In this week’s ParentingAces Podcast, which is a bit longer than usual (sorry!), you will hear from Taylor Davidson, a senior at Stanford; Francesca DiLorenzo, a
sophomore at Ohio State; Chanmeet Narang, the UGA Men’s Tennis Team Manager; Elizabeth Milano, a UGA student and volunteer at the Championships; Tammy Duncan and Olga Reinberg, parents of UGA players; and Beata Redlicki, mom to players at University of Arkansas and UCLA. Please pardon the background noise as these interviews were actually conducted on the grounds of the Championships.
To watch the FloTennis profile on Michael Redlicki, click here.
Also, registration for the ITA Summer Circuit is now open. Click here for information.
For more information on the 2017 NCAA Division I Tennis Championships, click here. A huge THANK YOU to the University of Georgia, the NCAA, and the ITA for working together to put on my favorite event in tennis, hands down.
For the past two days – and for the next 10 – I have been in Athens, Georgia at the NCAAs at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. My Happy Place.
I’ve missed attending the NCAA Championships the past two years. For some reason, the Powers That Be thought there was a better place than UGA to host this premier college tennis event. Imagine that! And, after next Monday, Athens won’t see the Championships again until at least 2023. It’s at Wake Forest next year followed by UCF (i.e. the new USTA mega complex in Lake Nona), Oklahoma State, UCF again, then University of Illinois in 2022. Word on the street is that Lake Nona could become the permanent home of the Championships if all goes as planned in terms of attendance and the growth of the UCF tennis program under John Roddick’s guidance. I absolutely wish UCF all the best, but I hate to think of the NCAAs anywhere but Athens.
Driving onto the UGA campus brings back so many fond memories for me. My son attended Bulldog Tennis Camp starting at age 9. My middle daughter spent her college years on that campus. And the energy it exudes during the Jewel in the College Tennis crown is unmatched. To top it off, this campus is the home of the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. If that doesn’t make you believe the Championships belong here, well . . .
Just walking around the tennis complex is like Old Home Week. I run into friends made at junior tournaments around the country. I run
into coaches I’ve interviewed. I run into industry people I’ve gotten to know over the past several years. I run into fellow tennis fans that I’ve met on the court myself. It’s just an amazing atmosphere.
Today, I’ll be back out there for four more men’s matches. My alma mater – UCLA – faces my daughter’s alma mater and the host team – UGA – this afternoon. It should be a great match, filled with all the elements that make college tennis so great. And it will be enhanced by the fact that the home team does such a bang-up job at getting its fans out en force to create an energy that rivals any football game.
I’m going to soak up everything about this year’s NCAA Championships because who knows when it will return to its rightful place: the University of Georgia Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
For everything you need to know about this year’s NCAAs, click here to go to the official website. For updates on scores and results during the matches, be sure to follow Bobby Knight @College10s2day on Twitter. I’m tweeting updates and posting on Instagram as well (@ParentingAces).
Today’s schedule: Men’s Quarterfinals
Noon: #10 Texas vs. #2 Virginia #6 TCU vs. #6 Ohio State
4pm: #13 UGA vs. #5 UCLA #9 UNC vs. #1 Wake Forest
Tomorrow’s schedule: Women’s Quarterfinals
Noon: #6 Texas Tech vs. #3 Ohio State #7 Stanford vs. #2 UNC
4pm: #9 Oklahoma State vs. #1 Florida #12 Pepperdine vs. #4 Vanderbilt
Note from Lisa: I seem to be having trouble formatting the photos so that they appear right side up on both computers and mobile devices. Please bear with me as I try to sort this out!
PlaySight, the company behind the video and analytics SmartCourt, is partnering with the University of Georgia to provide livestreaming throughout the upcoming 2017 NCAA Championships.
PlaySight SmartCourt technology is powering over 40 NCAA tennis programs. Among the 16 teams entering the third round of the tennis championships later this week in Athens, 10 on the women’s side and eight on the men’s side use PlaySight technology for video and analytics training, performance and livestreaming.
To tune in to the livestreaming throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, bookmark this page for the live video and live scoring.
PlaySight technology is helping to shine the spotlight back on college tennis after years of losing out to other sports. The sport is full of great stories, coaches and athletes, and together with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, PlaySight is giving the very best sports technology to players and coaches across the country.
Coach Manny Diaz and the University of Georgia Bulldogs were the first NCAA tennis program to invest in PlaySight technology almost four years ago – so it is fitting that one of the finest facilities in the nation is now wired from top to bottom with PlaySight video and streaming technology.
Several schools across the nation – from USC in Los Angeles to Oklahoma State in Stillwater – credit PlaySight technology with improving various aspects of their programs, from training to fan and alumni engagement. Check out what the coaches from the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Cowgirls had to say about PlaySight after the 2016 season (click here to read).
More PlaySight fast facts:
12/25 men’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
13/25 women’s top 25 ITA-ranked programs use PlaySight
Vanderbilt University is the latest school to add PlaySight
PlaySight is now working with tennis programs across Divisions 1, 2 and 3
PlaySight has added two new SmartCourt products – the Live and Play – to provide a more affordable price point for all tennis programs
PlaySight successfully launched the PlayFair initiative this year along with the ITA, bringing video replay and challenge technology to college tennis – with plans to scale up for the future
To check out which schools are working with PlaySight, or to find out more about their three SmartCourt products, click here.
To watch PlaySight livestreaming from the University of Georgia throughout the 2017 NCAA Championships, tune in here.
Note from Lisa: I will be in Athens covering the 2017 NCAA Division I Championships beginning this Thursday. If you plan on being there, too, please find me and say hello!
The first college combine sponsored by USTA is coming up next month. I’ve fielded several questions about this new event, so I reached out to USTA’s head of collegiate tennis, Stephen Amritraj, to get some answers for y’all. You can also listen to my recent podcast with Stephen here.
ParentingAces: Why did USTA decide to put on a college combine and what does it hope to accomplish?
Stephen Amritraj: We understand the landscape for parents and players going into college tennis. One of the priorities of the USTA Collegiate team is to have more Americans playing college tennis and the USTA All American Combine is our biggest event to support that goal. We hope that by putting as many American players on as many courts in front of as many college coaches as possible, we can help increase the amount of Americans on College Tennis rosters.
PA: There are several other college exposure camps and events around the country. What sets the USTA Combine apart?
Amritraj: I would say there are several reasons why this is unique: 1) It’s only open to Americans. That in itself is a difference that aligns with our priorities and mission. 2) This will have tennis and fitness testing combined to showcase different sides of each athlete. 3) It’s at the USTA National Campus which is really an incredibly special place for the sport that we all love. 4) The various levels of players and coaches are going to be wider than other recruiting showcases mainly due to the fact that they are playing for a $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit Futures Main Draw Wild Card to the winner based on a combination of tennis and physical components. All of the results from their set play will count for Tennis Recruiting and UTR. 5) Finally, we have also partnered with the ITA to host a coaches symposium the evening of June 15th for the college coaches that attend.
PA: How many players and how many college coaches are you expecting? What regions and college divisions will the coaches represent (i.e. D1, D2, D3, NAIA? Southeast, West Coast, etc.)?
Amritraj: We expect a national pull of 60-80 players. Currently, we have entrants from over 15 states. We will have college coaches from all over the country with all divisions being represented.
PA: What were the factors USTA considered when choosing the date and location for the Combine?
Amritraj: We chose the National Campus to host the event because of its location and great facilities. However, choosing a date was difficult because there is some overlap with Sectional events across the country. We selected the June date the after the Florida sectional so that we could capitalize on the college coaches that attend the final day.
PA:How do players sign up to attend? How will players be selected?
Amritraj: You can sign up on Tennislink.usta.com, tournament ID 150025417 (click here). All American players will be accepted into the combine.
PA:Are there any grants or scholarships available to help offset the $349.88 entry fee?
Amritraj: This year we do not have any, but we hope to add in the future.
PA:Has USTA arranged any type of travel and lodging discount for the players? What about meals?
Amritraj: We have a room block at the Courtyard Marriott (call 407-856-9165 to reserve) with a discounted rate for Combine participants, and we will provide a lunch voucher on Thursday, June 15th.
PA:Anything else you’d like us to know?
Amritraj: There will be something for everyone in the USTA All American Combine and would ask parents, players, and coaches to do their research throughout the collegiate decision process. We truly believe College Tennis has a place, at some level, for way more American junior players than are currently playing in it and hope this event can help.