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Coach Roundtable: Transfers in College Tennis (Part 1)
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Every year, high school senior tennis players make their college decisions and head off to school. Unfortunately, some of those choices do not work out. Each year, a significant number of college tennis players quit tennis before they have exhausted their eligibility - or transfer from one school to another.

We decided to put the question to our panel college coaches:

 

Q) Why do so many college athletes transfer? What can be done to minimize the chances of giving up on a program - and what should high school players do to ensure a good fit?

 

Mark Jeffrey, head coach, Louisiana Men

There is an interesting dichotomy at play here. For one, prospective student athletes need to do their homework when considering schools - with one of the highest priorities being playing time. In my experience, players never really feel like true contributors until they win a big match for the team. Place this as one of your top priorities if you are a competitor who loves to compete. The equation might be different if you are going to the institution purely for academic priorities, but think harder if you love to compete.

The second is the coach, I know some coaches are now cutting down squad sizes from twelve to ten - or even to eight - to reduce the chance that a player will not get to see any playing time at all. It is very hard to keep a player motivated that does not play for extended periods of time. Cutting down the squad size is risky - it opens up a program to the risk of not having enough players due to injury. The new scoring system I believe will help in preventing some of these injuries because the result is less playing time on the court for all players.

It really boils down to playing time.

 

Jose Martinez, head coach, Warner Men and Women

The college decision is obviously an important one. At 18 years old, picking the university they will attend will be the biggest decision they have made in their young lives, and one that will significantly impact their futures in positive or negative ways. It shouldn't be taken lightly, and I don't feel students put in the proper amount of time and effort into making this decision. Students should attempt to visit a minimum of five universities - and if at all possible get a chance to meet the coaches and spend some time with the teams during each visit. Simply walking around the campus can give you a feel for what a college is really like.

When meeting one-on-one with a coach, keep in mind that it's like an interview process on both ends. Each coach should ask you several questions, and it's okay to come with your own list of questions for them. Here are a few important questions that are rarely asked:

  • Will my specific major interfere with the athletic schedule?
  • What happens to my scholarship if I get injured?
  • Are players on the team close with each other?
  • What is a typical "day in the life" like for a member of your team during the season?

The answers to these questions may better prepare you for succeeding at this university - or make you aware that you should look for a different option. I strongly believe that making the right choice in a university significantly improves the ability for the student to succeed in the classroom and on the court.

I have been blessed with a very good retention rate for both of my programs. I believe a big part of the success is due to the way we approach recruiting. I am upfront and honest about who we are as an institution and what type of young adults we seek to recruit. I strongly believe in providing them with as much information as possible and allowing them to have a clear idea of what will be expected of them if they attend Warner University.

One of the first questions I ask recruits is, "why do you play tennis?" I listen very closely and take notes on their response, because to me it's a very important question. I try my best to recruit players that have passion and love for the game. This makes coaching more pleasant because if you have enough of these players on your team they will have a positive impact on the rest. Players who have a deep passion and love for the game don't care what time practice ends or how early they have to wake up tomorrow for fitness. The way I minimize the risk of having players transfer out or quit before their eligibility is over is by recruiting players that feel comfortable and are willing to succeed in our Christian environment - and also by recruiting players that have a deep passion and love for the game.

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Page updated on Monday, November 04, 2019
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