Know the score before you begin your recruiting.
Regardless of where you are in your tennis recruiting process, you should be doing your homework. That includes making an honest assessment of your tennis skills, comparing yourself to the high school bios of current college-level players, and then figuring out where you might be able to compete. Then, you should research various colleges and develop a target list of schools that you’re interested in. Finally, to help you with the two assignments above, take the time to familiarize yourself with the pertinent men’s college tennis numbers below:
252, 10, 4.5
There are 252 schools competing in NCAA Division I men’s tennis and the average roster of those teams is 10 players. However, DI men’s tennis is also an equivalency sport and, as such, a fully-funded program only has 4.5 scholarships to spread in partial amounts among the team. That means, if you are recruited to play at the DI level, don’t expect a full-ride and be prepared to be offered a partial scholarship at best.
155, 10, 4.5
In NCAA Division II men’s tennis, there are 155 schools sponsoring men’s tennis. However, as in DI, the average roster has 10 players but each program only has the budget for 4.5 scholarships. However, don’t be lulled into believing the competition level at Division II is a notch below DI. While many elite players compete in DI, plenty of top men’s tennis talent plays at DII schools too and, on any given day, DII schools can be competitive with many DI programs.
335, 11, 0
With 335 Division III schools sponsoring men’s tennis, with average roster sizes of 11, there are ample opportunities to make the team in DIII. The catch is that there are zero athletic scholarships available in DIII. However, most DIII schools offer plenty of academic scholarship money and, if you have the academic record to merit it, a coach may be able to assemble an aid package that would rival or beat that from a partial scholarship offer at a DI or DII school.
105, 10, 5
At the NAIA level, there are 105 schools that offer men’s tennis and those teams have an average roster size of 10 players. Just as in DII or DIII, the competition can be tough on NAIA men’s teams. In addition, with a maximum of five equivalent scholarships available, NAIA men’s tennis teams have a bit more scholarship money to spread among the team. However, as not all NAIA teams are fully funded, some may not have the budget to offer the full scholarship allotment.
60, 8, 9
For many men’s tennis players, a junior college program may offer the best chance to earn an athletic scholarship. That’s because, at the 60 NJCAA men’s tennis programs, the average roster size is 8 players, but each school can award 9 scholarships (assuming it’s fully funded). Plus, two years at a junior college can provide the time to improve your game, sharpen your grades, and prepare to step up to finish your education at a four-year school.
63, 58, 10
There is one big caveat to all the numbers presented above. In 2020, 63% of men’s tennis players in NCAA Division I who were foreign student-athletes. In Division II, the number was 58%. In Division III, with no athletic scholarships, only 10% of men’s players were foreign athletes. Add it all up, and men’s tennis teams at the DI and DII levels are the most difficult teams to make for American-born athletes of all college sports. In addition, many coaches will hold back a portion of their scholarship budget as an incentive to lure foreign players to the United States. That said, if you’ve played tennis at a high level and you have a solid academic record, you’ll still have a shot to make the team somewhere and earn at least a partial scholarship.
If you want to pursue a men’s tennis scholarship, there’s only one person who can make it happen; you. Start your recruiting process early. Figure out where you’ll fit best. Make it easy for coaches to find your profile and highlight video. Don’t wait to be recruited. Be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Remember that most men’s college tennis coaches lack time and big recruiting budgets, so make sure you put in the work to show them that you’re not just a number and that you’ve got the game to compete at the collegiate level.