Abuse of American Generosity

Image courtesy of www.wrightstuff.biz
Image courtesy of www.wrightstuff.biz

The following article was written by a Fellow Tennis Parent and shared with me to reprint here. The parent has asked to remain anonymous for fear that “a lot of people will rise up in righteous indignation, calling for the lynching of the xenophobic troglodyte who wrote this one, and I don’t need the headache”! Please feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments below.

I read a quote from a recently graduated student-athlete who is going on to try his hand on the pro tour.

Normally that would be cause for celebration, as I am a proponent of the college-to-pro progression that is being discussed more and more. Where I go sideways in this instance is in the revelation by this player that America’s institutions of higher learning are now an active target for foreign players who need free coaching. The quote is as follows:

It’s tough to find support from sponsors, so [international players] are now seeing [American] college tennis as a good option. I think people are realizing that college tennis is the way forward, whereas before, the guys at the head of my federation thought that college tennis is where good players go to die. I’m glad people are starting to realize that there’s more than one way to make it and that college tennis can be used as a stepping stone towards a professional career.”

It used to be that foreign players would try to go pro first, and if they didn’t succeed, they would default to using that professional experience to leverage a free education in the US as a means of furthering their business career. Now it appears that the ever increasing physical demands of the sport make the junior-to-pro path followed in the past unrealistic, so they need another way to hone their tennis skills and physical strength before trying to hit the pro tour. That there is a concerted effort to funnel foreign players into the US university system specifically for sport training (with the added bonus of a free diploma) is yet another nail in the coffin of American tennis.

This is really disheartening, as the USTA (even if they actually did get their act together) can only provide so many opportunities. College tennis was the last field where any volume of American juniors could have their talent sown. Now that field is being reduced to a single row amongst acres of foreign sprouts.

For full disclosure, my kid already went through junior tennis and is enjoying a full-ride at a D1 SEC school as a student-athlete. We’ve already received our reward for our financial investment and our player’s hard work and are not at risk of losing it to a wave of international athletes. However, I feel for those American players, and their parents who incur the ridiculous cost of US junior tennis, who will have significantly more competition for what is already a shrinking pool of opportunity. Men’s programs are being cut at an alarming rate, and the glut of talented players scrambling for a spot on a team is squeezing out the children of the citizens whose tax dollars are funding those remaining programs.

It will be hard to justify the $100k+ investment in building a tennis player capable of competing for a scholarship if the number of opportunities keeps shrinking. And if there is less educational incentive, there will be fewer parents who will incur the cost when there are lots of less-expensive sports to pursue. If your kid loves tennis, you can still let them play rec league and save a year’s tuition while investing your resources in advancing them in another sport which has more opportunity. There’s not a lot of foreign crew, volleyball, or lacrosse student-athletes, and the cost is 1/3 that of tennis.

I know all the arguments about how foreign players are more motivated, and in many instances, just better. And that coaches have to win to keep their jobs so they recruit players who can advance the program. And how private institutions aren’t using tax dollars so they would have an advantage if state schools were limited in the number of foreigners who could receive scholarships.

I don’t care. There, I said it. I am an American, and believe that we, as Americans, should promote our kids first. Especially if it entails the use of tax-funded facilities and scholarships. I could be wrong, and fully expect to be corrected if so, but I don’t hear about foreign universities offering athletic scholarships for American students. And even if they did, who would go? Arguably, America has the best institutions of higher learning in the world. And apparently the most lax restrictions on foreign athletes receiving public assistance.

I want American tennis to recover, not wither. And I want American kids to have more chances to receive the scholarships that their state schools make available.

If a foreign player wants to play for an American school, let them. But not for free. If they can win a place on the team, and pay full, out of state tuition, then by all means bring them in.

Lisa ran a series a while ago that touched on this issue and mentioned a group that is trying to raise awareness of the disparity of foreign-to-US player ration in college tennis. Perhaps she’ll post a link to that article here as well. [Editor’s note: click here for the referenced article]

For my part, I write my state and federal representatives in an attempt to foster a top-down initiative. To date I’ve sent 34 letters. Want to guess how many replies I’ve received? Yep… zero. Sure, I get the form letter stating how hard they are working for the people they represent, typically followed by a solicitation for a contribution. It seems fundraising is really the only thing they put effort into.

However, maybe, just maybe, if enough people write their representatives, asking that there be some restrictions on how much American tax money is given to foreign athletes in the form of scholarships, they might start thinking that it could mean votes if they do something. Other than money, votes are the only thing that motivates a politician.

So I’m not asking that you engage in the creation of a new group or committee to address the issue. Just take a few minutes to write a heartfelt letter on the issue, and send it to your state and federal senators and representatives. You can find their e-mail addresses online [Editor’s note: Click here to find your senator’s name and email. Click here to find your representative’s name and email.] and only have to change the salutation when you send to a different person.

An avalanche starts with but a single snowflake…. or email.

82 thoughts on “Abuse of American Generosity

  1. Full disclosure … my child is a U.S. citizen, a blue chip in her class, and has committed to a PAC-12 school.

    Hmmm … not sure if my response is “you go girl/boy” or “quit your whining”. Probably somewhere in the middle.

    You acknowledge that the coaches are expected to win yet you don’t acknowledge that every US coach would prefer to have a roster stacked with US players. It is MUCH more difficult to bring in foreign players due to determining eligibility as well as immigration. Even college coaches who are foreign-born will tell you that they prefer US players.

    You also don’t acknowledge that US universities are rightfully proud of the diversity they get by including foreign students. It is very rare that you will see a university’s prospectus that doesn’t brag about the # of states and foreign countries represented on campus. And yes, some of these out-of-state and foreign students get scholarships (athletic, academic, and need). The out-of-state students don’t pay state taxes – should they not be allowed to get scholarships, either?

    There are ~300 division 1 women’s tennis programs (~200 in D2 and ~400 in D3). A fully-funded (not all are fully-funded) D1 women’s team gets 8 scholarships, which if managed properly means two scholarships per recruiting class or ~600 scholarships per year across all the D1 programs. If I look at the class of 2017 on TRN and take the top 600 girls then I am going way deep into the 2-star players.

    Let’s narrow it down further and look at the six big tennis conferences (Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12, ACC, SEC, and Ivy). Across these six conferences you are looking at ~72 schools, which means ~144 scholarships per year (and takes you deep into the four stars). I guess this is where you and I start to disagree – I don’t see coaches from schools in these six conferences taking four-star players. Instead, these coaches are fighting to get the 25 blue chips (at least those who don’t turn pro) as well as the cream of the five-stars. The remaining slots are filled with foreign players (my rule of thumb is to assume that 50% of the scholarships are going to foreign players).

    Again, the goal of the tennis coach is to win, and to win s/he needs to put together a program of top athletes. A typical blue chip NEVER loses to anyone below a five-star and RARELY loses to a five-star. A D1 coach (and an AD) serious about winning conference titles and competing for a national championship isn’t going to recruit four-star player (and certainly not anyone lower).

    One thing you don’t mention is the fact that all of the players seems to want to go to the same 72 schools. Very few players actually target the lesser D1 programs and, God forbid, the D2, D3, and NAIA programs. News flash – you can’t all go to Stanford. They take two a year. Perhaps if the four-star and below players attempted to cultivate relationships with some of the other schools then come September 1 of junior year there might be some interest. But instead these players indicate a high interest in Duke, Florida, and Georgia. Well, you are bound to be disappointed when they don’t come calling.

    1. Great insight David. So are 4 and 3 star American players not getting a look from the 2nd tier schools (#73+) because the foreign players are better or because the Americans don’t market themselves to those schools? Or are those same American players deciding they won’t play tennis OR ATTEND a school that’s not tier 1?

  2. David, everything you cite seems correct. However, I think the issue posed is that we, as a nation, should be promoting our own kids first. Universities tout their international diversity to make themselves seem all-inclusive which is a big buzz phrase lately. Really they are announcing that they will make it as easy as possible for foreign students to give them their money, as the vast majority of international students aren’t getting any scholarship.

    Universities are a business first, as evidenced by the amazing number of courses and even degrees offered for subjects that have no marketable potential at all, yet cost $100k+ for the degree. Students are being sold a bill of goods, and they and their parents are going deep in debt for a worthless piece of paper. I’d love to see a govt. assistance program that requires a specific GPA, and a major in a STEM discipline. Maybe then we’d have more computer programmers, and fewer PhD’s in Byzantine Architecture. But I’m off topic.

    If a limit were placed on how many athletic scholarships could be given to foreigners, the same 72 schools would still attract all the blue-chip and 5-star players, but the other schools would be forced to include more American players. It’s not like Gonzaga is going to beat Virginia anytime soon anyway, so it won’t create a new hierarchy at the top. It will maintain parity while allowing a lot more US kids to play on a college team. Coaches would be on the same level, and their relative success will remain the same, as there won’t be any Baylor, Old Dominion, or Miami, FL teams with 90-100% foreign players.

    And while every kid wants to think they will be able to get into one of those top 72 programs, reality will eventually assert itself and they will look at other programs. Right now, those second/third tier programs are full of foreigners. Now where do the US kids go?

    I would agree that US programs will have to accept much lower skilled players if they are limited to US only, but who cares? If we want US tennis to make a come back, we need to motivate as many kids as possible to compete. And to hear people say it will make tennis unwatchable is ludicrous. The only people in the stands now for 2nd tier programs are parents and the home-school’s students. Most of the students don’t play tennis, and have no idea what a technically correct stroke looks like, so they won’t be alienated. They come to support their friends, and will still be there even if the proficiency level drops.

    Count me in the boat of those who will take some time to write a note to my senator and representative. If that makes me nationalistic, I’m OK with that.

  3. I’d like to share some additional data. According to an NCAA report, here are the percentages of international students playing varsity tennis in Division I (based on 2013-14 numbers):

    DI Men 41% (down from a high of 43% in 2012-13)

    DI Women 45% (there has been a steady increase since 2008-09 except for a 5% drop off in 2011-12)

    I wish I had the data for the other divisions. I’ll see if I can locate it.

  4. DII Men 33.4% non-resident alien, DII Women 23.2% non-resident alien (see http://web1.ncaa.org/rgdSearch/exec/displayResultsPercents)
    DIII Men 2.4% non-resident alien, DIII Women 1.3% non-resident alien (see http://web1.ncaa.org/rgdSearch/exec/displayResultsPercents)

    When I look on that same website for the DI percentages, they look very different from the numbers I quoted in the comment above. I’m not sure why the discrepancy, and I can’t seem to locate the same NCAA report referenced above for the other divisions.

  5. Lisa, thank you for looking up that data. I would be even more interested in seeing the % of scholarships that are given to non-resident aliens. A team could be 40% foreign, but especially with the men, could have 100% of scholarship $ going to foreigners.

    1. Unfortunately, the scholarship data is next to impossible to get. Unless someone knows otherwise, I don’t think there’s anyone who collects that information and makes it public. Maybe the NCAA Compliance folks have it – I don’t know. I’ll keep digging!

  6. Lisa- The DIII numbers tell the whole story. There aren’t any foreign kids who are looking for an american collegiate education and happen to want to play tennis. They need a scholarship to make it worthwhile and the education is not the key, it is all (or at least mostly) about the tennis. Also, “full disclosure . . .” is a backdoor brag (well deserved) but it is not necessary to make the point whether for or against limiting foreign players. I see way too many parents and junior that are ignoring academics so they can spent more time on the court. I am afraid that a lot of them will be lacking academically regardless of the college program. There is no easy solution to the problem for sure. While I am personally inclined to limit foreign players, I do understand a coach’s motivation to fill his/her team with the best players regardless of citizenship. I would be curious to know the graduation rates for foreign players across all NCAA divisions relative to US citizens. My suspicion is it will be much lower for foreigners and analogous to the graduation rates of big time men’s football and basketball programs (but that is supposition at best). Thanks for all you do to keep the conversation going.

    Full disclosure, my kid is 12 and I hope that she can play college tennis if she wants to but I am more concerned about raising an educated and functioning member of society.

  7. Even if US players get offered a spot on a power or ranked team, the scholarship $ offered are less than those of international players with similar UTRs. I heard about one high ranked US players who was offered 5% to play at a ranked school. He didnt take it. However a transfer international student at that same school with a lower UTR is getting almost a free ride. I knew of another international player for a Power team-was getting a full ride playing line 4; however he did end up being cut. I know of other US players-some with the highest UTR on the team, and their athletic piece is less than 50% ( I do realize UTR is inflated for some juniors). International players expect 75% + and turn down low offers. If more US players would turn down low offers from ranked and power schools and go to D1 MMs, there would be more ranked MMs beating some of the Power schools, and the Power schools might have to share their scholarship $ more equitably.These college coaches probably know how much parents spend on training each year so they have come to expect parents to be willing to outlay similar funds for college. They dont mind sharing a little of the kitty so the kids can sign the NLIs, but they keep most of it for the internationals. The exception is the blue chips who probably do get good offers but still probably not full rides.

    It takes 4 points to win a match, and if every school is spending all their $ on their top 3, maybe some schools will get smart and make reasonable scholarship offers to good dubs players who can play 4-6. If you look at many D1 teams, out of the 6 singles, 4 internationals play and 2 US players. There is usually only 1 US player in the top 3, with 1-2 in the bottom 3 and with the bench mostly American. The team may have 10 players and appear 50/50 US/international, but as far as playing time, it is probably 2/3 1/3 international/US and as far as scholarships, it is probably 75%+ going to internationals.

    A win is win whether it is with the top or botttom of the lineup. If US players are being offered 5.10,15, 20% , they are putting in the same effort as guys who are getting 4-5X as much. Sometimes that is oK as US players may get merit and/or financial aid that is not always available to internationals. I dont mind internationals playing but I do mind the US players being shortchanged on the $. I can see the top of the lineup getting 2x as much as the bottom, but not 4-5x.

    Technically nonrevenue sports are funded by student fees not by tax $. Some facilities are funded by tax $, but a lot are funded by donors. Student fees are often $1500-$2000/ yr. If more students realized how much they were paying for sports they dont watch, they would probably lobby to cut more teams regardless if there are US or international players on the teams. Rather than protest, players should just walk away from low offers. The coaches will always find a US player willing to play for peanuts, but they will have to dig deeper, recruit at lower stars, and may decide to find more $ for US players in the future. Now there are 4 year scholarships for the Power 5. If a coach makes the wrong gamble on an international player, his $ could be tied up for 4 years. With the new rules, supposedly scholarships cant be cut except for breaking rules, bad grades, etc I hope US player scholarships wont be cut more to offset any international recruiting errors.

    My question too is who is funding all the coach trips to Europe? Student fees?

    The good new is the pendulum may be swinging back a bit. There are some MM coaches who are now looking for US first which is good news for 4 stars. While the power and ranked schools may have secretaries and administration to deal with the paperwork and extra issues related to international players, MM and smaller schools may not. It is a lot easier for a coach to watch US players and have a realistic view of their abilities. With internationals, coaches may be looking at paper results and videos. A guy who is great at tournament tennis may not fare as well in the team environment with noisy spectators.

    I wish USTA would see their job is not just to develop pros, but their job should be to develop junior players into college players. They should survey high school players and parents. They should be asking ITA for more transparency. USTA has outdated stats. If USTA does nothing, they will lose junior tennis. Parents will not continue to pay $20k+ a year for tournaments and training for their kids to get $5K/year college offers. Kids may choose instead to train some, but less, play high school tennis, men’s opens, a few UTR tournaments, and the ITA summer circuit for a fraction of the $, and still have a chance to play MM/D2 or D3 tennis. and be able to attend regular school. Tennis may end up being 2 tiered-the wealthy who play ITF and/or USTA across the US and the globe and who just want the roster spot at a Power school and will pay whatever, and the parents who would prefer their kids to attend regular school half day, who are not brand conscious about schools, and whose kids will play all sorts of local or regional tourneys to improve their UTR without jumping through USTA hoops. Why play 20 tourneys a year in the hopes of having the points to get to Kzoo , only to be watched by coaches looking for cheap US player to fill #4-8?

  8. A few quick thoughts to ‘gladitsover” …

    – You mention student fees of “$1,500-2,000 per year” … I assume that you are talking about fees in general and not fees for athletics? Even the most subsidized school in the power 5 conferences only charges $150 per year for athletics (and this gives all students admission to all sports).
    – You mention 4 years often in your post; the standard scholarship these days is 5 years. If your eligibility expires after 4 years then you get the 5th year to do graduate school (or complete your undergrad) if you desire.

    During my daughter’s recruiting process we looked at the roster of every school in which she was interested and asked the coaches about their upcoming recruiting classes (the coaches aren’t allowed to mention names but can speak in generalities that give you an idea of where recruits are coming from). There are a lot of great athletes in certain sports (especially tennis, swimming, golf) from outside the U.S. and my child wants to compete as a teammate with the very best.

  9. Athletics are funded by sports revenue and by student activity fees paid by all students. Here is a link that shows how much athletics is subsidized by student fees in one state. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150622/PC20/150629829/the-price-to-play-fees-fuel-athletics-at-smaller-colleges
    “Indeed, athletic department subsidies, including student fees, amount to $3.7 billion annually and account for 65 percent of athletic department budgets for the 286 Division I schools outside the so-called “Power Five” conferences,..Enriched by the lucrative TV contracts of the SEC and ACC, Power 5 schools such as South Carolina and Clemson do not have to rely heavily on student athletics fees or other subsidies. Only 2.7 percent of USC’s total revenue from 2009-13 came from student fees; at Clemson, the number was not even 2 percent. But even at Clemson, with an athletic budget already at about $69 million, school officials have considered adding an athletics fee of $350 per year to student bills.”

    Here is another interesting article http://businessofcollegesports.com/2011/04/22/which-programs-rely-on-student-activity-fees/ I was surprised to see some Power 5 schools do not use any student fees to subsidize athletics. In general the Power schools need a 10% subsidy or less so the argument that students and tax payers are funding the international players is weak for Power 5, but strong for school outside Power 5.

    The argument with the Power 5 then must change to focus on fairness. Years ago, people thought it was OK to pay different wages to people of the same ability based on their race or gender. Now that is illegal. Colleges coaches may assume international players are better than US players-some are, some are the same, and some are worse. It only seems fair that players regardless of nationality that are of similar levels or rankings on the same team should receive similar scholarships. However, that is not the reality; a US player playing 3 could be getting half or less the scholarship of an international player playing 5. A starting point to the discussion would be for the NCAA to ask the ITA to have public colleges report tennis scholarship $ per year split as far as amounts given to US vs international students. It’s probably a low chance of that happening, but if those amounts were reported, US players could concentrate their recruiting efforts at schools where US players were receiving at least 40% of scholarship $

    1. Good article. My daughter plays DII and is the only U.S. player in the top 6. She plays #1 doubles and #2 singles yet she gets less athletic money than several of the foreign players. This is a problem but I am not sure how to fix it or where to start.

  10. Gladitsover and Stanley, I cannot say with certainty, but my suspicion is that coaches give more scholarship money to foreigners because they have greater expenses associated with travel and integration. Also, America is a very opulent society, and what we would consider lower-middle class is wealthy in other countries, so the coach figures that the American parent will come up with the tuition themselves, or by taking out a loan, so they don’t have to give that player as much. Typically they are correct. We will go into significant debt to give our kids an education. I wonder if the foreigners would be as willing to burden their families. Maybe Joe W already answered that question, by his observation that very few international students play sports for DIII schools where there is no financial incentive.

    In the article Lisa found from 2011, there’s a quote from Lele Forood where she says:

    “Not being able to recruit the top athletes stateside should not be an excuse for tennis coaches, says Lele Forood, Stanford head coach. “It’s gone well beyond what it should be. You are basically renting players and have mercenary athletes that help you win championships.”

    The term “mercenary athletes” says it all. They will fight for a foreign school when paid to do so, but their allegiance is to their home country, so without the $, they choose other routes.

    The players with real talent, who have a chance at making a living on the pro tour aren’t coming to America for an education. They are here to get free training on somebody else’s dime. They wouldn’t take out a loan to pay for training in their home country, because it’s too risky. Who would invest in such a low percentage outcome? If they were a sure thing, they’d have sponsors. They want America to fund the risk, and we are.

    My daughter also plays on a D1 team, and the estimated value of that experience (tuition, housing, books, food, training, equipment, travel) is over $100k/yr. The full out of state tuition is $50k/yr, so the foreigners on the team are receiving $40k/yr in sport-specific sponsorship on our dime.

    I will agree with the article’s author, and say that foreigners should be allowed to play on any team that their skill warrants, but should pay full tuition. They would still get the sport training for free, but at least we’d be saving the tuition that is now a giveaway.

    1. The quote from the Stanford coach is interesting considering that Zhao basically showed up last year only when it didn’t conflict with her Canadian obligations and pro tour chasing.

  11. fOoops… bad math. I meant that foreigners are receiving $50k/yr in sport-specific training in the case of our school.

  12. “If a foreign player wants to play for an American school, let them. But not for free.”

    With only 4.5 tennis scholarships on the men’s side (and 0 in the Ivy), I am guessing that only a very small percentage of foreign tennis players are playing for free. And at public institutions, 100% of them would be expected to pay out of state tuition. My guess is that public schools make more money on foreign tennis players that they give out.

    If I were to take the time to write a representative, it would be to ask for equal scholarship opportunity for tennis regardless of gender.

  13. As a former player turned parent of a college player, the one lesson that sticks with me is that: 1) junior tennis is expensive for all, 2) college tennis is expensive for many and 3) pro tennis is expensive for most. I guess we do it because we love it!

  14. sbk – on the men’s side, schools make more money than they give out in scholarships, on tennis players regardless of origin. However, if the anecdotal evidence given here any indication, the foreign players receive more of the scholarship $ available on a per-player basis. If you want parity, how about mandating that no more than 1/2 of available scholarship $ go to foreigners? I’d prefer no more than 25%.

    On the women’s side, they have 8 head-count scholarships, so a school with 90-100% foreigners isn’t making anything. The few walk-on players that fill out the team do not offset the $ going to foreigners.

    As to making scholarship $ equal for men and women; you’d have to overcome Title IX, which is a tough fight. How do you provide equity when the football teams absorb so much of the scholarship pool, but no women partake?

  15. The author of the article and many other parents seem more worried about their son/daughter getting a tennis scholarship instead of having them choose a sport that they actually love to play. And why would you have your child quit tennis to participate in another sport where they may have a better chance of getting a scholarship if they do actually love tennis? Seems crazy to me! I am a father and a college coach at a D1 school. My son was very good at tennis when he was young but none of his friends at school played so he decided to play other sports and loved them. I am just happy he continues to learn new things and loves to play sports that he enjoys. Isn’t that what parents should want for their kids?

    1. Bill, most parents do want their kids to play sports they love However, tennis is such an expensive sport that to play it, many parents might have to spend the $ that they would send aside to save for college. If parents are paying $15K-$30K+ annually for travel and drills, they may hope to get some of that back in the form of scholarship or they may only be able to afford an instate college. I think these forums also need to discuss how to make tennis cheaper. In some sections, more players play high school tennis, and they may only play a handful of tournaments,still reach 4 stars, and play college tennis at a midmajor or D2. In larger or stronger sections, the average 4 star may play 20+ tournaments-many out of state, and spend 3x or more a year annually than players in other sections. In our section, players usually spend $7K-$20K+ on training, another $6K to $15K+ on travel, and many attend private 3-4 day a week half day schools because they would miss 20+ days of school-this is another $10-12K. Some sections may be too large. Players have to play and do well at a lot of tournaments to reach the sectional and/or national level to be selected for Kzoo or San Diego to be seen by college coaches. The irony is that player can be invited by those coaches on visits only to be offered a scholarship that is chump change compared to the expenses they incurred. International players in Europe probably train in cheaper ways with their club system and with many countries easily accessible by rail. A player may sound great to coaches because he is top #5 in this country, but his country might be smaller than a US state.

      The good news is with UTR, ITA summer circuit, men’s opens,etc that talented players in states with strong high school tennis programs hopefully can train and play at a relatively high level, stay in public schools, spend reasonable amount of $ on travel and drills, and still get exposure to coaches. Most coaches still go to the national USTA events, but some midmajor coaches watched recruits at the open ITA summer circuits. Most coaches look at UTR rankings, and someone can have a UTR ranking I think with a minimum of 8 matches, and some high school matches are reported. I just want parents to have the info, so if they know at the start of high school that their son will probably get a 20% athletic scholarship at a Power school or less, they can choose the tennis path that makes the most sense for their son academically, financially, and athletically. Girls have a lot more options with 8 scholarships per team.

      1. Gladitsover, I agree that high level junior tennis should be less expensive! But so should health care and the cost of higher education. I don;t think any of those are going to decline in price.Parenys need to realize before they spend their kids college education savings that a very small percent of high school age athletes actually go on to play college sports let alone get scholarships. Just like very few parents ever played college sports.

        The number one reason kids quit playing sports is they no longer enjoy it and the number one reason they no longer enjoy it is because of parents. Parents goals for their kids regarding sports should be to have their kids live up to their own performance potential and not their parents performance expectations.

        Again I agree with you that high level junior tennis should be less expensive and colleges should be giving more opportunities, adding sports and not cutting sports.Unfortunately most AD’s focus on football and basketball as that is what thier jobs depend on.

  16. Bill – what I read, is that the author says if your kid loves tennis, you should allow them to pursue it. However, if your goal is to use whatever sport your kid plays to increase the likelihood that you can offset the cost of a college education, then the shrinking number of scholarships available to US kids makes the cost of tennis in particular a poor choice. Unless you have unlimited funds, you have to consider the risk/reward. To create a player who has a reasonable chance to obtain a tennis scholarship, you will be looking at an investment of more than $100k, and that’s being frugal. I personally know people who have spent $250k+, but they have the money, so it’s not an issue for them.

    If you are a middle-class American, that $100k would be better invested in a 529 plan. If they don’t get a scholarship, they are now looking at significant debt to pay for college. Doesn’t it then make more sense to invest $30k in a different sport with more scholarship opportunities, and put the saved $70k into a 529?

    As the number of foreigners getting tennis scholarships increases, the risk/reward ratio gets further skewed. And for boys, even if you do get a scholarship, unless you’re a phenom it will be partial, so you are still upside down on the cost-of-development to cost-of-education ratio.

    If your kid loves tennis, there are lots of leagues and rec programs that will foster that love of the sport for a lifetime. If you love tennis, and want America to continue to grow the sport, we need to make college-tennis as obtainable as possible, and it’s going in the exact opposite direction. Limiting athletic scholarship dollars given to resident aliens, would make the option more viable for US parents, and increase the number of families willing to go through the cost and pain inherent in the USTA monopolized system.

  17. A few comments:
    – I have never heard of the Ivy league referred to a power 6 conference

    – You cant even compare the womens and mens college game with scholarship difference. Any regionally ranked junior girl can find a scholarship, the opportuniites for late blooming men are really tough

    – It can be easier for coaches to recruit foreign players than American players becuase they use recruiting services. The coach never meets the recruit in person before they arrive on campus. Especially if the school is not in a desirable location.

    – The influx of foreign players has actually improved the level of college tennis, the very top American players with pro aspirations who choose to play college tennis benifit from this.

    – The player who wants to participate in college tennis for four years, graduate, and move on to a normal profession needs to go into recruiting process with eyes open, and find a program that fits acedemicly and tennis wise. I can see how frustrating it would be for a parent to shell out $100k on tennis expences and have very limited scholarship options

    – If you have a boy and you want a scholarship, put him into poll vaulting

    1. To Alex Ho …

      – The Ivy is generally considered as one of the top tennis conferences along with the Power 5. I don’t think the term “Power 6” was used.

      – Speaking only for D1 power 5 plus Ivy I know that the coaches meet with the foreign players. I am aware of multiple visits this year by foreign players at the schools my child considered. Further, many schools send coaches to Europe to watch French and/or Wimbledon juniors.

      – And if poll vaulting doesn’t work then try pole vaulting 🙂

  18. Alex is spot-on. The less college opportunity there is for US juniors, the fewer parents will spend the money to try, and the potential pool of future US champions will be further reduced. And for boys, it’s not even close. If you’re not in the top 25 (Blue Chip) you can forget about breaking even with the cost of development, so it’s money better spent on other, less costly sports.

    An article released yesterday from CNN titled: “Want your kid to become a tennis player? Prepare to spend big” – http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/18/tennis/tennis-academies-simona-halep-madison-keys/index.html?sr=cnnitw – has a telling statistic and quote from Patrick Mouratoglou:

    Although the fees are high, it’s money well spent as playing sports at a high level will give you important life skills and can enhance your education, according to Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams who has helped 40 players reach the top 100.

    One-third of the 150 full-time students at the Mouratoglou academy end up at with a scholarship at an American university.

    “The school is as important as the tennis,” Mouratoglou said in an interview this year in Melbourne, Australia. “If you are a responsible person, you have to realize that a lot of players are not going to make it. So those ones have to have a second option that is a good one.”

    It appears that the “second option” many foreign players are counting on is an American scholarship. So foreign parents can spend their money on training with confidence that it is well-spent, since they can rely on their child’s education being paid for by US taxpayers.

  19. Yet another quote that affirms the current mindset for college tennis being the training ground for foreign players.

    “College programs are farm systems to the pros now, especially the international players…tennis isn’t just an American game. Not the way a lot of people remember it.”
    — Former U.S. pro and Rice University head coach Jimmy Parker on the changes in U.S. tennis since the 1970s, speaking to the Sante Fe New Mexican

    When a US college coach says college tennis is a farm system to the pros, “especially for international players” the unspoken inference is that college tennis is now less attainable for US players.

    1. Division I college sports has always been a training ground for the pros no matter the students sport or nationality. Look at how many DI hockey teams have Canadians. Look at how many college soccer teams have Europeans and South Americans. Tennis parents are unique. They always are used to paying for what they or their kids can’t earn.

  20. David, you are lucky to have a daughter since girls on Power teams usually receive full scholarships. For US boys they may be good enough to receive an offer to play on a Power or ranked team but not be able to afford to attend that school (if out of state) due to low athletic aid for US players. Coaches are paid to win, but they need to win at lines #4-6 too as the guys with large scholarships playing #1-3 may lose or get hurt. When the guys who could play #4-6 are only offered 5-20%, they may choose to play elsewhere. Will coaches continue to win if they spend most of their budget on the top 4 international guys and/or US blue chips and they can no longer find top 100 Americans to play 5 and 6 for chump change? Who will step in when #1-3 are injured? There are more 5 star boys playing for midmajor teams each year, and better scholarships at those schools are a big factor in their choices..Do international 1S-3S players really deserve 3-5+ x the scholarship of US players playing 5S and 6S?

    1. This isn’t a tennis problem. Look at the scholarship counts for baseball, men’s track & field, men’s swimming, etc. As long as Title 9 exists and football counts against the total number of scholarships then the rest of the men’s sports are going to suffer.

  21. @David, true there are 4.5 scholarships to split among tennis teams with rosters of 8-12 men due to Title IX. This issue I address is how that 4.5 is split between international and US players. In other sports, one player could really be worth 3-4x another player, e.g. the goalie on a soccer or lacrosse team, the top pitcher on the baseball team, the lead scorer or defender in any team sport who plays most of the game. However, in tennis, everyone in the lineup contributes the same-the line 1 victory does not help the team win anymore than the line 6 victory. That is why it is bothersome that the top 3-4 players-mostly international on many teams (outside the top teams that get the blue chip Americans) earn scholarships that are triple or more the amount of US players who contribute equally to the team’s victory or loss. Why should 3-4 players get 75-100% rides while the rest- even sometimes the guys playing 4 or 5 get 20% or less? Whatever line a player plays, he is out there playing a least 2 sets. I could understand 2:1 between the top of the lineup and the bottom as far as scholarship $, and some MM teams distribute scholarship $ that way, but 4:1 when all the play about the same number of sets and contribute the same points to team victory or loss does not make sense. It only works out because American players are willing to play for 0-20% in the lower lines; if international players get a low offer, they just choose a better offer at a different school. Coaches probably dont even bother to make an offer to an international player unless they can come up with 75%+. I see teams where there is not whole lot of difference between #4-8 or even #3-8 as far as talent, UTR, etc except that the international players in the mix get a ton more scholarship $. Now there is value outside the scholarship $ for US players due to the training itself at top schools, admission support, priority registration, academic assistance, etc but the international players get all that plus high scholarship $.

    1. Glad,
      You are very wrong. The best players are worth more than the lower players on all college tennis teams. Yes, each line earns a point for your team but the top players are playing better players and those points are harder to win. Take out your number 1 and 2 players and see how the team does with everyone moving up spots. It’s always more devastating to a team that loses a top player due to injury then it is to lose a 6 player! The better players should get more scholarship $.

  22. Paul, I wasnt arguing that line 1 and line 6 should get the same scholarship $, but that the top of the lineup shouldnt be getting 4X as much-maybe 2-3x but not 4-5X. If all the teams put most of their budget in the top 3-4 players, then all those top of the lineup matches will be tight, and it might be the lower lines that decide the match. Sometimes there is very little difference between #3 and #6 or #4 and #8 yet if #3 is international, he is probably getting a much larger scholarship. I knew of an international line 4 who was getting a full ride at an unranked Power 5 team, while I know of blue chip US players much higher ranked on similar level Power teams getting less than 50%. The Power schools will start losing the recruits who could play #4-6 if they keep lowballing US 5 stars and high 4 stars with 0-20% offers. Look at TRN over the last couple years, and you will see that more 5 stars are choosing to play for midmajors, D3, etc. Do you think they didnt have some offers from Power schools? Even though D3 does not have athletic scholarships, some 5 stars may come out ahead there with merit and need based aid that may not be available at the out of state public university Power schools.

  23. Why are we arguing about what % of scholarship $ should go to which position when the bottom line should be who is receiving the $, not where they are playing. State schools are handing out tax dollars no matter where they indicate the money is derived. All university dollars are fungible, and if the school needs funds, they simply reallocate the student fees toward that need. It’s like social security and the “lock box”. There is no lock box and congress just takes what they need and keep funding specific programs from general funds, and vice-versa.

    International players (men and women, but much more for men) are absorbing a disproportionate amount of US tax dollars, and now they make no pretense of coming for the education. The poster’s quote is very direct in that foreign players who want to go pro, are using our system to fund their training.

    How many players does the USTA Player Development sponsor? Maybe 100/yr? How many college tennis scholarships are there 3,000/yr? Where will the next great US players come from, a pool of 100, or a pool of 3,000?

    This is a larger discussion than just foreigners taking US money. It’s about the future of US tennis. We need to wake up and stop funding foreign tennis federations.

  24. Lin, I agree USTA does not give much money to former US college players who want to try the tour; here are the requirements and amounts for grants for boys:
    College Tennis
    Players that complete 4 years of collegiate tennis or players that decide to leave college prior to graduation can earn an excellence grant. Once a player meets the ranking criteria listed below then she will earn the amount listed next to the ranking. A player could earn up to $4,500 during a 6 month period. (Unless a player gets wild cards into challenger level or higher, I think these goals would be hard to reach, and it really is not a lot of $ considering expenses. The juniors who played Oracle Masters got $750 for travel expenses for one tournament which is almost as much as a college player would get for spending 6 months reading ATP 400)-t
    Six (6) months after graduat ing/leaving college tennis

    Top 400 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($1,000)

    Top 350 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($1,500)

    Top 300 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($2,000)
    Twelve (12) months after graduating/leaving college tennis

    Top 250 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($1,000)

    Top 200 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($1,500)

    Top 150 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($2,000)
    Eighteen (18) months after graduating/leaving college tennis

    Top 175 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($1,000)

    Top 150 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($1,500)

    Top 105 ATP Ranking- First time reaching ranking ($2,000)

    Now the handful of guys who make the USTA Collegiate team each summer get a little more support but that is just a handful of guys for a couple of months. Players from other countries get more support from their National Federations. My son told me some guys get some $ from their countries if they win matches in the main draw-not a lot, but enough to survive on the Pro Circuit for a couple years. I guess the US system in general for all sports is set up to subsidize training during college and then expects players to fund their expenses or play minor league after college except for some Olympic funding for those participants. The college system works great for most sports in which players can earn a living post grad in the minor leagues. Other countries, because they dont fund college training, can possibly better afford to subsidize post grad training.

    The iTA new mantra is to grow college tennis-you will see those hashtags on all ITA social media. I wonder what they mean-get more interest in the game, have more spectators, have more visibility? I hope for more transparency as far as accurate numbers and statistics for US and international players in each division and the pro rata split of scholarships. USTA has player development staff. They need to focus some more on the majority of tournament playing juniors who hope to play in college, and not just those who hope to go pro. Let USTA PD come up with best practices and paths to get juniors to the level they need to be to compete with internationals on top D1 teams without having to take the ITF route.If more US juniors are playing at the top of the lineup at top D1 schools, more will be ready to try out the pro circuit.

  25. Passing Shot.
    Thank you everybody for all the information provided. It is undeniable that developing a Tennis player in the USA is very expensive and American Universities are becoming a final destination for many excellent Juniors playing and training al over the world -for now mainly in Europe- in better circumstances than the average Junior in the USA.
    Just look at the web site of the new and flamboyant “Rafael Nadal Academy” .In there you will find the essence of the story.
    Scholarships USA.”The aim of the Rafa Nadal is to ensure that its students have the opportunity to go to university in the United States with a tennis and / or academic scholarship. For his reason the Academy works with I-Con Sports,an international – renowned agency…”

    Does anyone know if any private Tennis Academy or the any of the prestigious and well organized Tennis Federations in Europe are offering scholarships to our junior at no or discounted cost?
    I feel that International players are overrepresented in the D1 and D2 schools (40%).If you just compare this number with the foreign born population in the US -13.1% in 2013- you will appreciate the numbers.
    Do we have the talent in the USA? yes, we do. Do our kids that pick up Tennis as their passion deserve a better chance or at least the same opportunity than the Juniors that play Football, baseball, basketball and lacrosse?
    Gerardo Lopez

  26. Here is a question: Do american players lose out on scholarships to foreign players because they chase points trying to achieve a high ranking instead of working to improve their games? I know a few guys who grew up in Germany and France, when they reached the age of 15 they didn’t play junior events very often, they would play local and regional adult money tournaments. The tournaments are extremely competitive and much less expensive to play, this allowed these players to put their resources into training and development, instead of traveling 2000-3000 miles to play a U16 tournament. These players from Germany and France had very mature games (strong from both sides, offense and defense, solid fundamentals…).

    I personally think that many American parents hold their kids development back by worrying about rankings and scholarships at an early age.

  27. Alex and Lisa – While that is undeniably correct, the reason US kids chase points and worry about wins over development is (in my mind) twofold:

    1)The USTA system demands it. If you don’t play, and don’t need USTA membership, they don’t make money. Until very recently, there was no other way to get noticed by a college coach. Now TRN and UTR provide alternative ranking systems, and college coaches can compare multiple information streams. Before, you either had a USTA of ITF ranking that got attention, or you weren’t looked at. If you think it’s expensive raising a kid in the USTA system, just try playing enough ITF events to get in the top 100. Most people cannot afford it.

    2) Microwave mentality. Americans seem to fall victim to our own success in many areas. One of which is that we expect results instantly. If I have a kid playing sports, I want to see something that represents achievement, and superiority over others. That comes with trophies and ranking, so the parents get caught up in what represents success to them, instead of building skills that will prevail in higher divisions. Lots of kids win a lot in the 10s-12s, and cannot deal with losing a lot in 16s-18s, so they leave the sport. Plus, if you haven’t ingrained a solid technical foundation early on, it’s awfully hard to start at 14-16. But to build that foundation, you will probably lose a lot in the 12s. If we could convince parents that it’s the High School years that really matter, maybe they’d be willing to accept fewer trophies in the 12s.

    This is not unique to tennis either. Look on the wall in any martial arts school, and you’ll see a dozen belt ranking levels. In Japan, you are either a student (white belt) or master (black belt), but Americans will not pay for slow development and want to see a new color belts every few months that shows progression. The schools also get to charge $60-$100 for each belt testing so it’s a cash-cow.

    Go to any Pee-wee sports tournament, and every kid gets a trophy for participating. There aren’t any winners because it might make them feel bad. Heaven forbid that they recognize that others may be better, and want to work harder to overtake them.

    But back to tennis. Even with TRN and UTR, if you were to play club tennis, or even adult money events, if they aren’t sanctioned, or reporting to UTR, the results will not appear. In Europe, the availability of ITF events is greater, so they can achieve ranking position for less than US players trying to play across the US, or fly to other countries for ITFs. So again, how do you get on a coach’s radar?

    In the US, a lot depends on where you live. I was fortunate to live in Florida, where we have lots of events all year, and lots of high-level competition from domestic players, and international academy kids. We played in-state, a few in Georgia. Only traveled far for the L1s, and stayed in the top 20-50 nationally, with a top 20 TRN for senior year, and not even a ranking for ITF. If you’re in the Midwest, that would be impossible. I guess that’s why parents with resources and talented kids, farm them out to Florida and California, or move the entire family. Those without resources find other sports.

    I still maintain that when considering what % of scholarship to award, coaches will give more to foreign players, because they know that the foreigners are only there for the money/training. The US kids will take out loans to attend, and play anyway if they love the sport, so the coach gets the best of both worlds. If we limit the % of scholarship $ that can go to resident aliens, more US kids will play college tennis, and more parents will be willing to spend the money to get them there.

  28. Lin, I agree with many of your points, here are a few that I do not agree with :
    – Not all foreign players are mercenaries who come to take American scholarships, the vast majority are like US juniors who if they develop through the four year college process, could go on the futures/challengers and give pro tennis a go. Many of them are come here to be able to get a great paid for education and continue their sport. In European Universities sports is not really available beyond an intramural level
    – My kids play high level soccer and basketball and there are no participation trophies, it is a very cut throat process with kids getting moved up and moved down on teams depending on a number of factors. The big difference is the cost $500-$800 per season with local and regional travel only. Playing a team sport allows for convenient carpooling for practices, games, and tournaments which is huge. You can also get recruited from high school team.
    – For boys having a high ranking may not lead to a scholarship anyway, especially if the ranking is inflated due to point chasing, and the kids game is not as good as his ranking. On a college team you have to prove yourself every day playing against solid players who know your strengths and weaknesses.

    My point is that a paying thousands of dollars to play a 12’s/14’s national tournament across the country, or worse yet you here of parents traveling a far distance to play a weak tournament where points can be obtained. I grew up playing in California where there were other options to playing a lot nationally (playing up in local junior tournaments, very competitive men’s money tournaments…).

    If a junior can develop a solid game in younger divisions without a high national ranking, then the parents can put resources into travel later when college recruiting is at its peak. Putting resources early into quality coaching, building athleticism, and playing up locally and regionally just makes sense to me.

    I would definitely admit this goes may not work as well for girls who develop earlier and may have to travel farther for competition, and families not in tennis/weather hotbeds. In Northern California where I live we played 300 days a year outside, and Southern California has even better weather and more players.

    I believe there should be scholarship limits for foreign born players at public universities.

  29. Having read the article carefully I feel that you have valid points and some points which are subject to debate. Indeed, it would be nice if only americans played the sport so scholarships are only for us. But the reality is that it is a world sport. Being a good jr takes thousands of dollars afforded only by few people. So if we wanted our kids to be really good, they need the true competition. One other aspect that you don’t mention is that most American parents are simply aweful entitled demanding, helicopter parents who don’t let the coaches work. Speak to any coach candidly, they say less work with foreigners anyday.
    Then D2 and D3 no americans want those positions, so what is a coach to do close the program? and lose his own job.
    the fact is the USTA needs to have better coaching education so we have better coaches, the coaches need better education so they have more students and successful ones, the prices need to come down, because the reality is the wealthy can pay, but the kids are just ok. Finally the American kids need to learn to appreciate what is here, they don’t? I live in Miami, most courts empty, most kids overweight, most tennis classes expensive beyond belief. Most high level coaches out of this world in fees. Rick Macci one hr $300, one week at a HP academy $1500, lastly most coaches simply don’t know enough.
    We need to protect our tennis but not though limiting foreigners, but by looking at the system as a whole. go to any pro tournament, the audience is most over 55. What does that tell you?

  30. Go to the social media sites (FB, instagram, twitter) of the Baylors and the Oklahomas of collegiate tennis that have 80% to 90% foreign players, why they do not have more US players on their rosters? That may be the best way to reach people who can do anything about it.

  31. They have to get foreign players because very few top us juniors want to be in Waco or Norman for 4 years. What would you pick if you were a top junior: California/Florida/North Carolina or Oklahoma/Texas?

  32. Alex, you are right that US parents spend too much on tournaments and travel. I also agree with LIn that to get the notice of college coaches, players need to play top national tournaments like Kzoo. Rankings matter as coaches willl have minimum ranking/rating level in mind before he will watch a player at tournament or respond to an Email. To get into Kzoo via sectional quota, players have to play and go deep in lengthy sectional tournaments-lots of $ for hotel and then for nationals flights and rental car too. Our son did not play nationals until he was in the 16s. Two of his 3 top college choices were coaches that contacted him after Kzoo so I am glad he was able to play Kzoo twice.

    A few players are having success playing few tourneys (saving $, missing less school); instead of going the full USTA route, they are playing high school tennis and then men’s opens or ITA summer circuit during summer break. These are guys talented enough to go deep in the open large draw sectional championships in the summer so they play a state qualifier and sectional championship, and if they win a lot of matches, they can get a fairly high USTA sectional and TRN national ranking. This only works if the state high school tennis level is high. I know one guy who only played 4 USTA tourneys and is top 100 TRN and is playing college at a Power school but he kept up his skills playing high school tennis, winning an individual state championship, and he went deep in some ITAs summer circuits too. I wish the largest sectional draws would be 64 not 128+. Usually only 8-12 of those extra players will win 2 or more matches against the top 64. Rather than add the extra 64 draw, there could be WCs based on high UTR, winners or finalist of state individual HS champions, etc.

    What is the board’s opinion of backdraws? Is the USTA the only national system with backdraws? I know ITFs are single elimination, and maybe international players are tougher mentally and strategically because they have come up through a system where they had to play well or they were out, while US players usually have a 2nd chance draw. Maybe there should be certain tourneys that are compass draw and played for UTR at the lower levels and then the higher levels should just be single elimination. I do like that there is a backdraw at nationals; after players travel so far, they might as well get at least 2 matches. However, at the sectional level, where players play the same kids several times a year, the backdraw has less value and interest. My son has played a few national level compass draw tournaments which were fun because most of the matches were competitive and he got to play guys he’d never played before.

    Ultimately for a player to improve he needs good training from a coach, match practice vs competitors better than him, and tournament play to see how player executes under pressure and manages the momentum changes. Maybe more cities will offer local UTR Opens where juniors, college players, and post grad and pro players can play. There are guys who graduate from college and who love tennis who are good but not good enough to play the circuit or they dont have time to $ to pursue that option It seems like in Europe, junior players get a lot more experience playing adults either in men’s $ tourneys or club events; there must be a lot more local tournaments at a level 5.0 or higher there than in the US. Maybe it is easier to get sponsors for local events as tennis is more popular in Europe. In certain regions of the US during the summer, between men’s opens, summer circuit, wildcard for pro circuit, etc, that jr, college, or pro players can play a lot of matches locally. However that is not true outside of summer; most of the tourney options are junior USTA. If we could link the recent grads who still love to play with the juniors who would like some good matchplay outside of costly academies, we could grow the level of the sport cheaply. How can we get out best post grad adults to play with juniors to try to model the European club experience? Could that model work here or are too many courts tied up with rec level dubs?

    We do have to have a glass half full mentality. Yes, there are probably too many internationals on US college teams. However, there are benefits to internationals playing at US colleges or training at US academies. My son has never traveled outside the US, but he has practiced with guys from every continent but Antarctica:) If their model of training develops better players cheaply, then we need to figure out how to adapt pieces of that model.

  33. I love the passion here. It’s been awhile since we had this much dialogue about a topic. A few more thoughts:

    – I don’t understand why programs have more than 8 players (especially the men). This makes the playing time problem and the scholarship problem worse than it needs to be. When my daughter was looking at schools she avoided programs that have traditionally carried larger rosters (e.g., Ivy, UCLA, etc.). For tennis 8 players feels like the right size for the roster while in golf the right size (6) is even smaller.

    – The coaches really, really want to recruit American players. It is so much easier getting them into the university than it is with foreign players.

    – As was mentioned above (by me and somewhat by Anonymous) the American players are frequently targeting the same few schools. The lower tier D1 schools and the D2 schools are rarely the first choice for American players. For example, the Maze Cup publishes a nice booklet about the players and one of things you learn is the college preferences. Nearly every player wants to go to Stanford. That just isn’t going to happen. Players need to be realistic about their prospects and target schools accordingly. You would be amazed at the response you’ll get from coaches if you reach out to them.

    – You need to get exposure to the college coaches. Before September 1 of your junior year you must think realistically about where you want to go AND where you can go. Then reach out to those coaches via email or phone and get on their radar. Figure out which tournaments draw coaches and then strive to get into those tournaments. I’m not even talking about ITFs – I’m talking about USTA tournaments. The summer nationals for 16s/18s are packed with coaches. You’ll also see a lot of coaches at winter nationals, clays, intersectionals, spring nationals, and even some of the national selection and closed regional events. You’ll probably see a lot of coaches at your sectional championships, too (this is definitely true in Southern California).

    – Finally, train hard! Love the sport, work hard, and be a nice person. Be passionate. Problem solve. All of this will translate to results. Take the uncertainly out of getting a scholarship by simply kicking a** on the court and the coaches will be beating down your door on September 1 of your junior year.

    1. Hi David,
      Right on 100%. But I will tell you why programs do have more than 8 players especially men’s programs. Men love to be on teams! Men don’t tend to quit as much as women if they are not in the starting line up. They love to compete in practice and love the camaraderie of the team aspect. Women not so much.

      Plus with the injury situation these days 8 players may not be enough to complete the line up. I’ve seen several programs have to default 6th singles and 3rd doubles because of injuries, discipline issues etc. If tennis helps a kid be admitted to a top school then they may go there knowing they may never be in a dual match. Those players, as long as their attitude and work ethic are great are very important to teams.

  34. David, you are correct about the tournaments that the college coaches attend, but they are very expensive to play. The last two years son played two out of Clay, Winter, Spring, and Hardcourt because of the expense of flight, rental car, and hotel,and about a $150 entry fee. If one parent flew with player, the cost was $1200-$1500 for all expenses; if a parent drove, he/she would have to take off an extra day of work each way, but the costs were a lot less. if players are in a large strong section, count on having to play a ton of tournaments to make the quota to get in those.Yes, US coaches want US players but they want them cheap. It doesnt matter if you have a bunch of Power coaches watching if they arent offering much; at least some of the more ambitious MM coaches attend those tourneys too, and they may offer as much or more for a single year than the Power coaches offer for 4 years. When a coach calls to offer an official visit, if he doesn’t mention a range of possible %s, his offer is probably going to be 20% or less. The MM when they want you to visit, they will be upfront on the range of %s players get, and a lot of them play with a 8 man roster so the $ are split over fewer players.

    One cheaper option is for players to try to get in a Qualfier for one of the US ITAs. If they play well and make it into the main draw, they could be seen by a power coach-a lot of the Power coaches attend the US ITFs. I am not saying to go the whole ITF route-definitely seen players waste a lot of $ that way and lose early. However if there is an ITF nearby, sign up a month or so before-it’s only $50 and you pay at the door. For the lower grade ITFs usually everyone that shows up for sign in gets in off the alternate list for Qualifying. You can have 0 ITF points and usually get in Q for grade 4 or 5. Even the lower grade 4 ITFs have plenty of blue chips and 5 stars playing as well as internationals. Playing those guys and gals also helps improve a player’s UTR.

  35. On an unofficial visit months ago, my son asked a coach about where he stood on his list, how many recruits he wanted for that class year, etc. My son mentioned a player who was in state to that university who he knew wanted to play for that college. The coach actually said something like yeah he would be cheap or a cheap add. Later when son got a low offer from that same school, we wondered if the coach was talking about him too as “cheap” behind his back. It seems like coaches have two numbers for each year-# of pricey international recruits and # of cheap Americans. The irony of the situation of the low offers were these were from coaches who had taken the initiative in recruiting him. Maybe the coaches who want cheap Americans call or Email every player that attends national tourneys in the hopes that some will be willing to play for low $. One Power coach who forgot to send Emails as blind copies, sent a dear recruit email out to 140+ addresses last fall. For those of you with sons who started recruiting this fall, watch out for coachspeak. When your son is on a visit or they want him to come on a visit, they will call him an impact player. When they make the low offer, they say it is because he is a developing player.

  36. It seems like a great question you have to ask yourself as a tennis parent is (especially for boys), are you prepared to spend well over a hundred thousand dollars in tennis expenses, and mostly likely get 20% scholarship or less? Not only the financial aspect of tennis, but the time commitment of needed far exceeds team sports for the parent (not to mention the long drives home after your kid double faulted on match point, or didn’t try his hardest in a back draw match….).

    Are you better off using the hundred plus thousand dollars going into tennis, compounding in a 529 account for your kids, so you don’t have to rely on a scholarship? If you have the resources tennis is a great way to go, but parents and players need to go into the process with their eyes open.

    1. In the past, I would say your statement is true in almost all cases. However, with the growth of UTR tournaments, I’m hoping the cost of developing a player to the point where he or she is at a high enough level to play college tennis will go down significantly. Tennis didn’t used to cost this much, and the US produced some of the world’s best. Maybe we can get back to that less-expensive-development model . . . who knows?

  37. Alex – You’re right. Not all foreign players are mercenary. However, most scholarship foreign athletes, they make their decisions based on who offers the best financial incentive, as their parents have higher costs to incur given the logistics of international travel. The are much less likely to pay their own way,and if they are specifically after free high-level training to help them go pro, it is all about the money. American kids/parents will look at what the school has to offer, and are much more likely to choose a good academic program over a higher scholarship offer.

    Travel teams don’t get participation trophies because they are populated with kids who have already dedicated themselves to their sport for a while, and their parents are paying a lot for the league. But the low-level competition absolutely gives every kid a trophy. about 4-years ago I took my son to a short-court tennis tournament, and there were no winners. Everybody got the exact same medallion. He played I9 flag football. Everybody got a the exact same trophy. To your point; he plays travel lacrosse, and they don’t get any trophies, but the event posts the team’s records and announces finalist/winner.

    The argument that international players make us better is accurate. In the juniors, that comes from the academy players, and at ITF events. In college, you would have to argue that a majority of US players want to (or have the ability to) go pro, and that’s not the case. The ones that could make a go of it, are already going to be at the top schools and wouldn’t be seeing lower level competition. Limiting scholarship $ allowed to be dispersed to foreign players won’t significantly affect the power conferences, as they will always attract the top US players. Foreigners will have a smaller % available so only the very best will be selected, which still improves the competition.

    So outside of the maybe 50-100 US players per year who are going to turn pro, we are funding many hundreds of foreign players who are specifically here to get free training. We are creating our own competition on tour. Maybe we’d have more US pro players if they didn’t have to fight past their foreign contemporaries who trained at US schools when they get in Pro Circuit, Futures and Challenger events.

    Lets let foreign tennis federations develop their own talent pool, and turn our monetary largesse back to benefiting American kids. Our sport is contorting itself into pretzels to try and make it “more relevant, and fan friendly”. Hard to increase relevancy when there are fewer, and fewer US kids playing college tennis. I know I don’t want to watch two all-foreign teams compete. It bothers me to think that we’re spending $60,000-$100,000 per player per year ($270k – $450k for men at 4.5 scholarships, and $480k – $800k for women’s 8 scholarships) to fund our own competition on the tour, at the expense of US kids who just want to play for their college.

    Gladitsover – your observations about cost is accurate. I did the calculations every year, and started the budget with the costs of travelling to the L1s, and then filled in the rest with in-state and regional events. At $1,500-$2,000/each for the L1s that’s already $6,000-$8,000 for four events, and in the US you better be playing 20+ more to stay competitive. Even in-state events cost $300 – 500+ with three days hotel, food, gas, event fees. Not to mention that tennis tournys run three days, so if you win, a parent is taking off Monday. Add in a coach and that will cost another $500-$1,000 for their hotel, food, gas, and coaching fees. I took coaches maybe twice. Sometimes at L1s a group of players would share coach expenses, but in an equitable arrangement, if you last longer than the others, you’re eating all the coach-cost for 1-3 days at a week-long event.

    Your experience validates my presumption that US coaches put most of the $ toward foreigners, and consider US players as more likely to play for less.

    Anonymous – I understand why you, and others, say that US schools “have to get foreign players”. In today’s environment, if you don’t, you will lose, so it saves their job. However, if we limited the % of $ allowed to foreigners, they wouldn’t be disadvantaged. All schools would be level again, but with fewer foreigners.

    As I wrote earlier: “[ ] while every kid wants to think they will be able to get into one of those top 72 programs, reality will eventually assert itself and they will look at other programs. Right now, those second/third tier programs are full of foreigners. Now where do the US kids go?

    I would agree that US programs will have to accept much lower skilled players if they are limited to US only, but who cares? If we want US tennis to make a come back, we need to motivate as many kids as possible to compete. And to hear people say it will make tennis unwatchable is ludicrous. The only people in the stands now for 2nd tier programs are parents and the home-school’s students. Most of the students don’t play tennis, and have no idea what a technically correct stroke looks like, so they won’t be alienated. They come to support their friends, and will still be there even if the proficiency level drops.”

    Outside of the top 100 programs, tennis is not really a destination sport. Student-athletes look harder at the school and less at the team. Tennis also isn’t generating lots of donations outside the top 100 so it’s not like a drop in tennis proficiency would adversely impact the school. The only effect I can envision is that more American kids will play college tennis.

    The foreign academies like Nadal’s, Mouratoglou’s, and others seem to be using our scholarships as a marketing tool for their academies. They get to say, “If you have limited resources, put them into our $50k-$60k/yr programs. That way you get the best tennis training possible, and don’t have to save money for college. We’ll get you a scholarship in the US.” America has plenty of foreign aid programs. Our colleges shouldn’t become another.

    And David is right; this discussion has generated more dialogue than any other in a long time. If it stops at writing opinions here, it will amount to nothing but venting. Let’s spend some small % of the time we’ve spent here, and write our representatives to let them know how their constituents feel.

  38. Let’s be careful what we wish for. If there were no international players on teams, and the top sectional players attended regional flagship universities, college could be 4 more years of playing the same guys. My son has enjoyed playing with international players who pass through his academy, and recently he had fun playing dubs with an international player. He would not want to play for a team 100% American nor would he want to be the lone American on a team. Let’s be creative and try to find ways to improve US players and make the junior experience cheaper. Maybe it starts with convincing a club in a nearby large city to hold a UTR Open and writing the tournament director of a Future and asking that a WC into a 10K be the prize-you would get a good mix of juniors, collegians, and post grads with that. Dont encourage your son to accept a scholarship offer under 20% if your son’s talent level is even or close with the current #4-6 unless it makes sense for other reasons, e.g. getting in a selective school, merit opportunities, it’s an in-state school, etc. Look at the midmajors, D3s, D2s-make sure your son has lots of options. It can’t hurt his recruiting for coaches to see other coaches watching. The more options your son has, the easier it is to walk away, and sometimes if a player walks away, the coach will call back later with a better offer.

    The scary thing about complaining to state reps or the state university board about giving international students scholarships is that most are funded by students fees, and most students if asked would probably eliminate the tennis team regardless of whether had a roster of 100% US players or 100% internationals. The typical college kid watches football, basketball, and maybe an occasional baseball game on a sunny day. Unless they are good friends or dating someone on other teams, they dont watch the other sports. If it was put to a vote, and students were asked if they were willing to eliminate all male sports besides football and basketball to reduce their student fee a couple hundred $, many would vote for the change.

    We need more local tournaments other than USTA that feed into UTR. To save $, maybe players should just play locally or regionally until they reach a certain age or UTR rating. We need a few showcase national or regional UTR based tournaments that over time would hopefully attract college coaches. so talented players who dont want to play 20 tournaments in order to be selected and spend $1500 to be seen by college coaches at Kzoo have cheaper options to be seen. Some of the ITA summer circuits were strong-I heard the Texas ones had a lot of D1 college players as well as juniors. In other areas, the top seeds were mostly juniors so they were like play sectional all over again.

    For now I would just like accurate info on the scholarship ratio of $ going to international vs US players per D1 school. How can we lobby ITA or NCAA for that or maybe that is what we could write our state university board to ask? Then parents could steer their players towards the schools that appreciate and value US players. If that knowledge was known, schools that give 75% of their aid to internationals might have to switch up their ratios to continue to attract non blue chip players for the bottom of their lineups.There are certain school that due to academic or athletic prestige will always be able to find players to play for low athletic $. However, there are plenty of options; there are midmajors ranked in the top 75 and power teams that are not ranked. Look outside the most popular schools for colleges that play nonconference matches vs Power schools, have good facilities for a MM, etc

    1. I don’t think anyone has said to eliminate foreign scholarship players. Just limit the amount % of the available $ they can absorb. Then the coaches will only make offers to the best international athletes, and the level of competition will still be high, and diverse.

      It teams were limited to 25% international athletes instead of 100% there would still be lots of intl. competition, and lots more US kids playing college tennis.

    2. I am not worried about bringing this issue to the attention of elected officials, or university administrators. We’re not asking for any increase in funding, just a reallocation of who receives how much.

      It also gives an indication of how many people actually pay attention to tennis. Representatives want votes, and administrators want donations, so if they perceive that a larger segment of the population is concerned with this issue, there won’t be any knee-jerk reaction to cut more programs.

    3. I’m not sure where the “play 20 tournaments in order to be selected for KZoo” comes from? Your USTA sectional and national rankings are based on your best 8 singles (and/or doubles) tournament results over a rolling 12-month window. If your child is a good tennis player then you shouldn’t need 20 tournaments. And if your child isn’t a good tennis player than KZoo isn’t what you should be targeting.

      If you feel you need to play 20 tournaments to get to a place where your results are good enough to get you into KZoo (or San Diego for the girls) then my question is, “Are you playing in the right level?” I am amazed at the number of girls trying to play in the 18s who have no business playing in that age group. Don’t play in the 18s unless and until you are dominating in the 16s. Stay out of the 16s unless and until you are dominating in the 14s.

      Before my daughter moved up to the next level (12s to 14s, 14s to 16s, 16s to 18s) we wanted her to face the pressure of being a #1 seed. We wanted to see her defend her seed a few times before she moved up to the next level. I see these 14 year olds who have never won anything at a national (or high sectional) level in the 16s registering for the 18s (just look at the contestant lists for the Thanksgiving national selection tournaments). They are wasting their time and (frankly) the time of the players who will thrash them in the in the early rounds of a tournament.

      Perhaps if players spent more time developing their game and less time playing tournaments then they would get to where they want to be. This was a bit of a revelation for us and I wish we’d figured this out sooner, but my daughter’s tournament results have definitely improved since we scaled way back on the number of tournaments she plays (in August – December 2016 she will play five tournaments).

  39. Interesting that some people want bigger government. Crazy!! It’s been said here before but coaches are paid to win. They put the best team they can together given the money, both scholarship and operating, available. If a US kid or parent doesn’t like the offer then move on to the next school or get better so you get a better offer.

    1. I agree with your comments Paul!

      Having lived in Europe for a little more than a year now, raising a tennis kid is not cheaper here. You guys have it good with free courts in parks and year round tennis in states such as Florida and California. During winter time, I have to shell out 20-30 euros per hour just to get a court. Tennis coaches are harder to find. Tournaments are not that many. Players are even less. I finally bit the bullet and sent my 13 yr old daughter to a tennis academy so she can get the training she needs. And just wanted to clear up something — “Get an American Scholarship” marketing by International Tennis Academies are not geared towards foreigners — It’s meant for Americans! And also, nobody here is training to get a scholarship to an American university. Kids here are training to be pros. If at some point, they realize they don’t have what it takes to succeed, they eventually cutback on the training, pursue tennis as a hobby and focus on something else. Many of the coaches here also didn’t go to an American university when they realized they won’t make it in the pro tour. Not everyone here is obsessed in taking scholarship money away from Americans.

  40. After reading Expat’s comments, I looked at UTR, and there is a big difference between European countries as far as which citizens pursue US tennis. e.g, Belgium and Italy have a lot of high ranked tennis players, but few who attend US colleges. However, players from Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, and the Eastern attend US college at a higher %. There are a handful of players from almost every European country. Maybe the US coaches primarily recruit at tournaments in the UK, France, Germany, and Spain but find a few recruits from other countries at those tournaments. Possibly for players living in those areas of Europe, it is cheaper for a player to train if there are many local clubs and tournaments. Expat are you living in Europe outside those areas? I read an article once about players who financed their pro circuit expenses by playing $ tourneys in France.

    Anyway in some European countries, there is a club system where it is easy and cheap for juniors to play with high ranked adults. In some of the US tennis meccas-FL, CA, Atlanta, Chicago, NY (eastern), etc, it would be worth the effort to have more open or club style tournaments where jrs, internationals in the city, collegians, post grads, etc could compete cheaply and develop their games. As far as marketing to international students to get US scholarships, it definitely exists. Here is one site with info in English which is pretty good info even for American players to read: https://www.smarthlete.com/services/athletes

    That site I think originally was just for international athletes as founders were international, but now seems geared to recruits anywhere. At least it has a lot of free info. There are plenty of recruiting services that international parents pay several thousand $ to in order to get a US scholarship from a pipeline-now a lot of the scholarships from pipeline recruiting services will be D2, but some are D1.

    1. Hi gladitsover,

      I do live outside of those countries, but have been to France and Spain a lot for tournaments. My daughter goes to an academy in Spain. The cost is comparable to attend clinics/private coaching, etc. when I did my research in finding the best place for her. It’s not cheaper here by any means. If anything, the parents here I’ve talked to are jealous every time I tell them that in the States, we can just go to a neighborhood park and start playing. You have to be a member of a club here to use the facilities or else you pay the more expensive non-member fees. They also marvel at the tennis facilities that we have there and how big and fancy they are.

      In terms of playing with older adults in inter-clubs, this is true. But this only happens when there’s not enough junior players to form a team. So this is more a consequence of the lack of players instead of by design. You can easily do this in the US as well by having your kid join adult leagues and tournaments. I think in one of Lisa’s interviews with Opelka’s dad, he mentioned he did something similar for his son.

      Tennis costs money anywhere in the world if you want to be world class. There are many articles already written about how poor the ROI is for tennis and if this is something you can’t accept, then best move on to another sport where you have a better ROI.

      Paul summed it up best: “If a US kid or parent doesn’t like the offer then move on to the next school or get better so you get a better offer.” The deck is not stacked against you.

  41. Expat, thanks for your reply and a few other questions. Having seen both US and European tennis, would you recommend a player spend a month in Europe either just training on the clay in Spain or playing $ tournaments/Futures Qualifying or would it be better to play Futures Qualifying in US or US $ tourneys? Do you know if anyone can get in the low level Futures Qualifying in Europe? In the US, it seems like there are always openings in the Q draws of the 10Ks. Son will play D1 tennis next year (finances did play a role in turning down one of the offers), and for a graduation present, we are considering letting him play or train in Europe for several weeks to a month. Would a player have to be fluent in French or Spanish to train or play in one of those countries or could he get by with just English? Son has never been overseas (but has a passport) but has played and trained with some international players in US. He played a couple men’s events in the US last summer. He did not play any of the ITA summer circuit events-the ones in our region drew mostly juniors or bench college players; he could possibly play them in other regions where the tourneys drew more D1 college players.

    Son attends public school so he could not take the ITF route as a junior, but he can spend this summer getting ready for the college game-just not sure what and where is the best way to prepare.

    1. Looks like you’ve raised a good tennis player there. I think you know what’s good for him. Just a side note, if the trip is to reward him for the good work he’s done, then having him stay abroad would be a wonderful experience. Lisa wrote a nice article about his son’s experience when he visited Spain. I suggest reading that for reference.

      No need to be fluent in French or Spanish, most of the highly regarded academies here have coaches who speak English.

  42. David – Yup, I included the L1s in that number and should have said “an additional 16 events”, but the rationale still obtains. It’s rare that a kid is going to play at their highest level every time, and may go through slumps, or (Heaven forbid) try to work on their game and accept some losses while they improve. If your kid can play 10 events and finish in the top three every time, then you’ve got a phenom, and more power to you, but most of us don’t. Plus, nothing makes you match-tough like playing matches that have something on the line, whether you need the points or not. So what is the right number? Serena only plays the Slams and couple more, while her competitors play a full schedule. If all of them should stay in the lower events until they’re winning the majority of them. That would make for some pretty empty draws in higher level events. I’d say that each player/parent needs to determine what will achieve their own goals without injuring the player. And yes, I agree that there are lots of players who are pushed to play events that are well beyond their actual capabilities, but there’s nothing you can do about that. I didn’t, you don’t, and the majority of posters here seem grounded enough to avoid that pitfall as well. More than half the Freshman boys on the TRN ranking lists, will exceed that number. To date, in the top 100 kids, 39 have already played 20+, and another 24 are at 17-19 tournys. If you’ve played 17 events in 10 months you are playing 1.7/mo so it’s likely you will exceed 20 by the end of Dec. That will equal 63 kids out of 100 who play more than 20/yr.

    Expat – Look at any “college recruiting showcase” and you will see lots of businesses that specifically cater to foreign players trying to get noticed by US coaches. It’s not a secret, and the links I provided offer direct quotes that cannot be interpreted other than as a pitch to foreign parents, not Americans. You cannot seriously say that the big international academies aren’t putting the majority of their advertising budgets into their geographic area of influence. They aren’t focusing on American parents with the pitch of a college scholarship. If you’re a US parent with the resources to send your kid to Spain, or France you don’t need the scholarship, so that pitch is not a motivator. If you’re a Spanish or French parent who can either pay the academy or save for university, it makes a lot more sense.

    I live 20-mi from IMG, and Saddlebrook and have relationships with parents/players in both academies. I can absolutely confirm that they use the lure of a US scholarship in their marketing to international players.

    Paul – No one in their right mind wants bigger government. Writing your representative to provide more opportunity to US kids to play in US colleges does not create another bureaucracy. It requests that our legislators do what they are there for. I’d much rather they spent their time on this issue than worrying about what new “national day” they can create. Do we need another National Doughnut Day? No.

    Government will be there anyway. Why not ask them to do something for their constituents? Especially if it won’t cost anything. The scholarship money is there already. I’m saying we should direct it more internally.

    1. Lin,
      Do you really think National Donut Day was brought about by the government? I’m am guessing you are kidding. So why not have US kids get better and work with pros that will tell them they need to work harder, complain less and develop their games? Let’s not dumb down the college game.

      1. Paul – yes I’m kidding, sort of. While the example of National Doughnut Day is hyperbole, our esteemed representatives spend an inordinate amount of time on useless things. Like getting streets named after themselves.

        I not trying to dumb-down college tennis. I’m trying to insure that more US kids get the chance to play. You cannot convince me that you would go out of your way to watch a D3 tennis match unless you knew someone on the team, or were an alum. D1 tennis will remain as it is, since the teams that anyone would want to see, will still garner the best recruits.

        I even want foreigners to play here. Just not as many on our dime.

    2. Lin – I’m just speaking from experience. I’ve spoken with about a dozen or so European parents who are sending their kids to an academy here and all of their goals are to go pro and not a College scholarship in the US. It’s in response to this statement in the article above:

      “Where I go sideways in this instance is in the revelation by this player that America’s institutions of higher learning are now an active target for foreign players who need free coaching.”

      I have not seen this attitude at all. Even if you stop giving scholarships to foreigners, they will still train hard, go to academies and pursue their dream of being number one in the world.

      1. Expat – the quote the article’s author cited states

        “It’s tough to find support from sponsors, so [international players] are now seeing [American] college tennis as a good option. I think people are realizing that college tennis is the way forward[ ]”

        That’s a pretty clear indication that the US is being looked at as a training ground for other country’s players who cannot secure enough funding locally.

        I am not saying that the US should stop foreign college players as a means to diminish their prospects. I am saying that they should pursue any means possible to achieve their dream. I just don’t want to fund it. I have friends with boys who have trained hard for years, and now are faced with no offers to play at a school, because the team has filled up with international players. It’s not right. US schools, doling out US scholarships, should offer a significant majority of the available $ to US kids.

        1. How are you funding foreign college players? Are you paying for their tuition? Or are you talking about the tax you pay? Ok that’s fair, but how about foreigners living in the US who pay taxes as well? Don’t they have a say on how their tax money is spent?

          You do know there are foreign students in these public universities as well that pay out of state tuition that is multiple times more expensive than in state tuition, right? What’s their percentage of the student population? Maybe you can compare that percentage with the number of foreign athletes playing for the school and see if it’s lopsided?

          Working hard and spending money doesn’t guarantee you a scholarship to the school you want if you are not good enough. If you want, save that money, do well in school and pay your way. Play tennis as a walk on. No harm done.

          If a school is offering you less than what you think you deserve, negotiate better or look for a school that will give you what you think you are worth.

          If a school you like doesn’t offer you a scholarship, it’s because the coach doesn’t think you are right for his program and good enough for his team. Suck it up and go to another school. If no one will take you, then suck it up and admit to yourself that you are just not good enough. You can still enjoy the game.

          1. Expat – I am talking about both the tax being paid, and my personal desire to see more US kids playing on US school teams.

            There are certainly foreign taxpayers, and I have suggested a 25% cap on scholarship $ for alien residents, which allows for the contributions of foreigners both financially, through talent, and diversity of attitude and ideals.

            Foreign students should pay out-of-state tuition. It’s required of US out-of-state students, so there can be no suggestion otherwise. Non-athlete students aren’t germane to the discussion. How many foreign student-athletes are paying out-of-state tuition? As I have opined before, my belief is that coaches default to offering more scholarship $ to foreigners, because they know that it’s a bigger consideration for foreign families.

            Foreigners could also play tennis as a walk-on. If the team they want has already capped out their 25% foreign scholarships, the foreign player can play as a walk-on, pay out of state tuition, and wait for the next opening that offers scholarship. But they won’t, because it is all about the money.

            I am not against a meritocracy for acceptance on a team. I am against the proliferation of foreign athletes on US college teams. Especially when it’s a stated goal to absorb our advanced training in the hopes of using it to go pro for your own country’s federation. It’s purely anecdotal, but I am hearing commentators referencing a lot more pro players who are credited with coming through the US college system. As the path-to-the-pros transitions from teen aged phenoms, to post-college adult athletes, more foreigners are gravitating to America as the best option. We have the largest, and best funded college athletics program in the world, by far, so the biggest target will naturally be our school system.

            I just want more US kids in college sports.

  43. I found an interesting site http://www.scholarshipstats.com/tennis.htm (Similar site for is /soccer for soccer)

    I compared tennis to soccer, I think everyone would agree that foreign born soccer players are definitely higher level than the US born (even the MLS is made up 42% of foreign born players, and you rarely see US players in Premiere or other major soccer leagues). Women’s soccer seems to be very strong in US in compared to much of the world, so the lack of foreign born players makes sense in women’s NCAA

    D1 Soccer D1 Tennis
    Men Women Men Women
    Scholarships 9.9 14 4.5 8
    Average roster 29 28 10 9
    Foreign born 12.1% 4.9% 32% 30%

    So why don’t NCAA D1 players chase the best foreign born soccer players who are not pro, and give them scholarships, but that is exactly what happens in tennis? Soccer coaches are under the same pressure to win as tennis coaches??

    Looking at the top 2 NCAA men’s soccer teams (Wake Forrest and Maryland), both have 4 of 30 on roster that are foreign born. The funny part is that Maryland dropped men’s tennis, but half of women’s team is foreign born, the men’s tennis team at Wake Forrest is half foreign.

    One theory would be that soccer in most parts of the world is an inexpensive sport to go through, like basketball in the US. Since parents must have resources to develop a tennis player, they are looking for a payback on investment (college scholarship), while using college system as minor league to develop 18-22 before full commitment for tour. With the average age of top 100/50/10 players going up, it makes more sense to play in college (with lots of opportunities to play future/challenger events in summer and fall to build a ranking).

    I just don’t get it.

  44. Alex, I think the 32% is too low or misleading. That statistic says 32% of all D1 roster spots are filled by internationals. However there are a lot of unfunded D1 spots which are filled by US players. The % of funded D1 spots filled by internationals would probably be 40%+. The % of scholarship $ to internationals would be even higher. It would be interesting sometime to look at the top 6 lineup of the top 75 ranked schools from 2016 to see what % of lineup players were internationals. When we got data on 15-20 teams the summer after my son’s soph year before he wrote any coaches, the team rosters averaged 10 players with many teams 6/4Int/US or 5/5 but when it came to the lineup, the lineup averaged 4 international players and 2 US players.He didnt write any coaches that did not have at least 2 US players regularly in the lineup.

    Another reason why there are more tennis vs soccer international players in US colleges is soccer is a sport played by everyone while tennis even in foreign countries may be a sport played by players from middle class or higher families. College players have to have the proficiency in English to pass TOEFL and take the SAT or ACT in English. We knew one player from South American whose spoken English was fine, but it took him 3 tries to get 800+ on the SAT to play D1, For soccer players who can play minor league, why go to the trouble of college unless they are fairly smart and seek a career outside of soccer.

    It seems the coaches of the better tennis teams are going after European players now so they get a great tennis player and a scholar athlete. One coach of a ranked public university made two separate trips to Europe this summer but did not attend either USTA Boys 18s Clays or Kzoo.

  45. I think you are definitely correct that foreign tennis players in general have higher academics, but I would also say that soccer players from UK, Germany, and Northern Europe would have no problem passing Toefel, or getting 800 on SAT. We see the struggles that US football and basketball players have getting 800 on SAT as well, so that they can be eligible as freshman.

    I also think that you are spot on that the 32% number is low, most likely because the 7-10 players on team (who don’t play much or at all) are American walk on’s, a better statistic would be percentage of 6 foreign players.

    My question is why are the European players better? It would be easier for a college coach to sign all American players that he see play and track results. Why are the NCAA rankings stacked with foreign players, many of whom have ATP rankings? Is it because US players chase waste time chasing points and defaulting out of back draws because they are afraid to take a bad loss? The excuse of European players being older is mostly gone with age lime of 18-24 for college tennis.

  46. Alex, I too wonder why Europeans are better. Some hypotheses I have heard: 1)tennis is more popular in Europe so therefore their top athletes will choose tennis or soccer while ours will choose football or basketball, 2) European club system-juniors have lots of opportunities to play with adults locally 3)the close proximity of European countries so players can take a relatively short train ride and play a variety of tournaments 4) there are a lot more ITF junior tournaments in Europe vs US,so European players have a lot more affordable global opportunities at a younger age 5) training on clay surfaces 6) the coddling of US players by their parents and/or coaches.

    I dont know how true each of these factors is but combined together they definitely have an impact. I would like to see more opportunities for high school age juniors to play adults-especially those recently finished playing college tennis. I would like to see more US ITFs in the summer when they would not interfere with school. There is only one grade 4 US ITF in the summer and it is on GRASS! In contrast, there are over 50 grade 4 or 5 tournaments in Europe from June 1-Aug 30. Unlike USTA tourneys, at least with most lower grade ITFs, players with no ITF points have a good chance of getting in qualifiers. If they can win 3 matches in the Q draw, they can play in the main draw. At recent grade 4 US ITFs attended by some US blue chips and 5 stars as well as internationals, unranked players were able to come through qualifying and compete with the high ranked players in the main draw. A player would have to play a lot of USTA tourney to get in a USTA tournament that was attended by blue chips as most of those only play nationals and the sectional 1s, Too many of the US ITFs are based in Florida-they should add more and spread them around.I think USTA in the past may have used its influence to limit ITFs in the US; summer US ITFs would compete with USTA nationals for participants. However now USTA gives ranking points for wins at US ITFs so I hope in the future, there will be more US ITFs.throughout the year.

    Interestingly there are unrealistic Europeans as well as unrealistic US players. There are international players who come to the US to train and are blown out of the water by US players. There are guys with pro potential, college potential, and guys who should just stick with rec or club tennis in both Europe and the US. In the US, we just need to make it more affordable and provide more local opportunities so players can test the waters and see which camp they fall in.

  47. Totally agree with all 5 of those points. In Northern California there is an adult open circuit where ex and current college, as well as junior (several of which played future/challenger events post college) players compete for purses of $1000 and up (the money aspect is what gets the ex college players in). This circuit was stronger when I was a player, I think the fact that many of local college players are foreign now, many go home for summer where as when I was in college and playing these events post college it was mostly American players. There is also a very active adult money circuit in Southern California, which is an easy 1 hr flight, plus the Pacific Northwest Summer circuit. I think sometimes these events are over looked by juniors who are caught up in rankings and not looking at more regional options. By playing singles and doubles in these events, you can get in multiple quality matches with a only a fraction of the expense.

    I played with a Polish guy last year in Miami on vacation who played US college in Northeast. He mentionedd how much easier it is in Europe to play futures events (easy to get around Europe by train, way more events…), the shear size of the US can make it difficult, and there should be more futures events in US as well as ITF (not just in California and Florida.

  48. Alex Ho, I am not sure how much adding more Futures event would help in the development of players because of the wider range in levels in the Q draws of those tourneys. Most players who play US futures will have to go through qualifying unless they get a wild card. Even if they are a top ITA player, they would have to play Q draws until they had the points or WC to get in the main draw. You will see guys who have reached the QFs in the main draw of several Futures who still have to go through Qualifying. There is an incredibly wide range of player levels in the Future Q draws because anyone can get in the Q draws. In the Bham Q draw, there were two almost 14 UTR juniors who had played in the US Open juniors this summer who had to play each other in the first round. Yet there were other places in the draw, where a player did not have to play anyone above an 11 UTR until the 3rd round of the Q draw; there were players that would not make high school singles (UTR <8.5) playing the Q draw. However to qualify for the main draw, players had to win 4 Q matches so all that qualified were deserving; the 3rd and 4th rounds of the Q draw eliminated those who had extremely easy early rounds.

    I wonder in Europe if the Futures have such a wide range for Qualifier, e.g. (8-14+) and such large Q draws (128). I dont know how many quality matches a player would get if he had two sub 10 matches in the first two rounds, and then played a 13.5+ in the 3rd-player would go from blowing out to being blown out. Maybe some day UTR could be used and the Q draw cut down to 64 from 128 to make the Q draw more competitive and take less days. UTR is being used for some ITA and USTA events, but I dont think it is used at all for any ITFs. With ITFs, there are a ton of players with no ITF points, because it is so hard to get the first ATP point, but there is a big difference in the talent level of the guys who made it through the Q draw of the prior ITF 10K and lost in the 1st round MD and the guys who just get in the Q draw because there are 128 spots. UTR would be useful in prioritizing the applicants with no ITF points or national ranking. Any player without either of those is just ranked in order of the date of their registration. I think some of the 128 draws only had 16 seeds; if there had been 32 seeds, I think the two juniors in the above example might have been seeded based on their national ranking and not met in the first round of the Q draw. I think some of the Canadian futures only have 48 in their Q draws.

    Who are the sponsors of the CA $ tourneys? I think that is a good option for junior/college/pro players in regions where those are available. There is a great need for more crossplay between those groups.

  49. I think playing through futures qualifying are great events also, the tough part is you get zero points unless you not only qualify, but win a round. If you can play a futures qualifying somewhat locally it is a good use of resources. There are a few Challenger/Futures events locally, and they often have pre qualifying tournaments as well, as do many of the tour events. It just makes a lot of sense to mix in adult events with local or regional travel, even if your not going to get any points a 16-18 year old can get some great competition without as much travel if the event is their region. ITF events seem great, but they are during the week, so you have to miss school, and there just don’t to be that many in the US.

    The California events have random sponsors (car dealerships, bank, sporting good store…), this years Heritage Bank Open ($25k which is largest non point purse in US) had several players that played for Pac 12 schools, and a few who still have ATP points. The Ojai Valley open always has a stacked draw with a qualifying event as well.

    If a junior can build a relationship with current or former college players who are near by, that can be great training. I know for a fact that Ci Ci Bellis regularly hit with Stanford players.

  50. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/rafael-nadal-to-train-next-generation-for-tennis-and-life-a-1117353.html

    Here’s a Rafa interview about his new academy. Note there’s no reference to attending a US university if you don’t make it:

    “SPIEGEL: Only very few children in your academy will make the leap to become professional players. What about the others?

    Nadal: Hopefully they will not regret having been here despite that. We try to teach the young people values that are useful to them whether they become professional athletes or not.”

    It was for a German site. I’m pretty sure if it was an American interviewer, he would mention that College can be a backup plan.

  51. Yeah it makes sense, train at tennis for 8000 hours between 5-18, then when your junior career is over and your not a top prospect you just give it up and go to an University in Europe that has no tennis program. Or you can go to the US and continue your training and get a top notch education for free.

    The same values learned at Rafa’s academy that are useful for life after tennis, apply after they finish at a US college and can decide whether to try tour or not.

    US college system makes more sense then ever for most male players because of a few reasons:
    – strength and physical maturity needed to survive on tour, better to take full leap after 20
    – average age of ATP top: 100, 20, 10 is getting older every year
    – You can play futures/challengers in Summer and Fall to build or maintain ATP ranking while in college
    – College is higher level now with top US juniors and Europeans (there well are over 50 college players with ATP rankings).

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