College tuition costs have steadily risen over the past 10 years. Many students are going into debt just to put themselves through higher education. The good news is that there are options to help you afford expensive college costs. If you are an experienced high school tennis player, taking advantage of tennis scholarships is a great way to pay for higher education.
The level of play expected on the collegiate level is more advanced than the average high school skill level. A good way to test your skill level is to participate in college matches or play with friends who play tennis in college. If you think that you are an above average player, then you should begin applying for tennis scholarships. There are just under 2,000 scholarships for male tennis players and 4,000 scholarships for female players offered through the NCAA.
Division I colleges contain the fiercest competition and the most skilled players. If you are an average player, you should apply for Division II schools instead. Division I and II universities are allowed 4.5 scholarships each for men, while Division I are allowed 8 and Division II allowed 6 for women. This means that male tennis is classified as an "equivalence" sport. Scholarship money is often spread out evenly amongst team members, which makes getting a full ride scholarship nearly impossible. Women's tennis, however, is a "head count" sport, making full rides more likely by far.
Tennis is a sport that is steadily growing in popularity, and thus getting noticed by collegiate level teams is getting harder as the years go by. Start working on your college plans early on in your high school career. To increase your chances of getting noticed by colleges, have someone film your matches and send the best ones along with a short bio and essay to schools you are interested in. This increases the chance that schools will see your work and contact you if they are interested in getting you to attend their school. It is also a good idea to attend college tennis camps. This will help you get noticed by coaches and scouts and put your name on their radar, it is also a great thing to put on a resume when applying to college.
The key to being noticed by colleges is to learn how to market yourself. Students make the mistake of thinking that if they are great players, colleges will always seek them out first and make offers. This isn't the case. Even if you are a star athlete, it is a good idea to put yourself out there and be active in starting relationships with different colleges and coaches. Contact the schools you're interested in early and apply for their tennis program and scholarships as early as the fall of your senior year. Taking the initiative in this process will help you go further than just relying on skill alone. It looks great to college recruiters and coaches that you (the student) took the effort to contact personnel while also showing that you hold a strong interest in the school itself. It never hurts to try to take that *extra* step that will set up apart from the rest.