Junior Coaching & Development

TeamUSA Forum on College Tennis

Logo courtesy of USTA

Logo courtesy of USTA

 

Earlier this week, the TeamUSA division of USTA Player Development held its 3rd quarter online forum entitled “College Tennis: A Pathway to the Pros”, and I was able to sit in for the entire session hosted by USTA National Coach Kent Kinnear.

Speakers for the webinar included UCLA Women’s Head Coach, Stella Sampras-Webster, USC Men’s Head Coach, Peter Smith, and USTA’s head of collegiate tennis, Stephen Amritraj. You can click here to watch the forum in its entirety, but here are some of the highlights that I tweeted out yesterday:

From Stella Sampras-Webster:

  • Coachability & being willing to do what’s best for the team are key factors in recruiting.
  • Coaches have to be careful when signing athletes because most have a 4-year scholarship agreement. Editor’s Note: This is NOT a widespread practice, except for the very top recruits.
  • College coaches have to put pro events on the calendar now so their best players have an opportunity to play pro events in between college events and schoolwork.
  • There is now pressure on college coaches to sell the fact that their program can help players transition to the pro tour.

From Peter Smith:

  • How does a player treat his parents? This is an important factor during the recruiting process.
  • Recruiting is a very inexact science.
  • “A complete person makes a great pro. A complete athlete makes a great pro.”
  • Recommended reading for all parents: CHANGING THE GAME by John O’Sullivan
  • Tennis is tennis. Playing college tourneys is just as valuable as playing pro tourneys for overall development.
  • Tennis is a brutal, tragic personal sport. Players need to learn how to lose, especially if they are planning to turn pro.
  • There really aren’t many recruiting rules for kids. Coaches are the ones who have rules to follow. Kids should be reaching out to coaches!
  • The NCAA limits practice to 4 hours/day. Smith says kids have to do additional work on their own if they want to reach the next level.

From Stephen Amritraj:

  • The increased cost of pro tennis changes way we need to approach turning pro.
  • If you’re not financially ready to take on the cost of the pro tour, then college is right path.
  • Players have to go through the proper progression. There’s no easy way to the top.
  • The Collegiate National Team is a great transition opportunity for college players to get pro experience during the summers.
  • The new USTA Pro Circuit Series offers a cost-effective way for college players to dip their toe in the pro pool during the late summer/early fall.
  • USTA has put together an 18-month transition program for players meeting excellence grant criteria that includes coaching, strength/conditioning, and physio services.
  • USTA has put together a 3-part webinar to aid in the transition to the pro tour. Click here for the link.

The next forum is scheduled for Wednesday, November 9th, 8pm ET, and will focus on Mental Skills. All of the TeamUSA Forums are appropriate for parents and coaches to attend. Click here to register.

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