high school tennis
“Ohio State is going to dominate the 2016 NFL draft. “
“His team could have as many as five players taken in the first round next year, with underclassmen such as Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott leading the way.”
“Here’s an early look at the NFL talent who will be lighting it up for Ohio State this fall.”
These are lines from an article posted on the Bleacher Report website from May 5, 2015. The article goes on to give a breakdown of each player and his contribution to the Buckeyes for the coming season. Every day journalists across the country reach out to their numerous sources to gather information for reporting on their chosen team and its players. Television, websites, newspapers, even smartphone apps are flooded with valuable information concerning the players from your favorite team/sport.
But not tennis. Why?
College tennis rosters are full of players that any coach would give their non-dominant arm to work with. Players that have spent most of their lives training, traveling, and testing themselves against the best competition in their given region, both here and around the world. These are players that, if we were to play them ourselves, would make any one of us look like a clumsy, 5-year-old, uncoordinated, special needs child. And they all come together, at the same time, to go to college. So what happens to them after what many believe were ‘the best years of their life’?
When a top college prospect in football or basketball decides to go pro and declares for the draft, it sets a number of things in motion: agents, Pro Day, the Draft, visitations, contract negotiations, etc. Much of it taken care of by the player’s handlers so the player can focus on playing. In tennis, the player must be the CEO, CFO, HR, travel agent, administrative assistant, chief, cook, and bottle washer all at the same time. Once they leave college they are essentially on their own to navigate the treacherous waters of professional tournament tennis. And for what? A couple hundred dollars at the end of the week? It doesn’t seem worth it. In fact, a great many top college prospects burn out before ever realizing their dream of playing on the bigger stages. We can’t let this talent go to waste.
Tennis tournaments are a process of elimination designed to find out who’s #1. But how many #1’s can there be? You know the answer. But when the Denver Broncos, the Golden State Warriors, or the Kansas City Royals win a championship, how many #1’s are there? When the Vanderbilt women’s or the Virginia men’s tennis teams win the NCAA Championship all 11 players win the trophy. Unlike the Miami Open or US Open where only 1 player can take home the trophy, a greater number of people benefit from the success of the Team. And that number includes all of the fans, too.
A third of the top 25 college tennis rosters feature the names of players born outside the United States. And while some believe this to be problematic, the real story is the global nature of college tennis. When saddled with the responsibility of filling a roster of 10+ players, college coaches search far and wide for the best players available. Players who come up through the tournament ranks believing they might one day play professionally, are now filling college tennis rosters. In other sports they refer to college as a period of ‘maturity’. In tennis, college is the final destination. Washed up at 22?!? That is a very short-sighted view.
Follow me on this one: Imagine tennis as a Team Sport at the professional level, like it is in college.
It changes the entire tennis conversation from “who will be the next #1” to “my team just signed a prospect out of the Ohio State University to a 3-year contract worth $1.2 million. He could be a starter right away. How do they fit into the system Coach Ken has in place? And can the veterans on the team bring along the rookies to put the team over the top?” I’ve just given you more content for TV and radio than most tennis tournaments (mind blown). Imagine the growth of the tennis industry when we have more than 2-3 people to talk about; the talk shows, segments on ESPN, news crews covering the High School State Championship. Things really begin to open up.
So the next time you’re looking for world-class tennis, skip the tournament (you’re not missing anything) and visit your local university. Players who understand the value of the team are definitely worth cheering for. GO TEAM!
High School is a memorable time in all of our lives; the bright future, the friends, the parties, there’s nothing quite like it. The same goes for high school sports. For many players, high school is the biggest stage on which they will ever perform. But what if you are not mean enough for football or tall enough for basketball? I mean, the thought of running cross country makes me break out in hives! But tennis is a different animal: it’s physically demanding and mentally challenging, like every other sport, without the risk of serious injury. Sounds amazing, huh? In fact, High School tennis coaches are eagerly awaiting new arrivals next fall!
But there’s a problem: many Middle Schoolers have never played tennis before.
Get your High School tennis career started on the right track by joining All American Team Tennis. Following in the footsteps of High School and College tennis, All American Team Tennis places the team front and center, not lessons and tournaments. Our players train together, travel together, and compete together to develop unity, and chemistry among the teammates.
It is this kind of ‘Team’ attitude High School coaches are looking for when players arrive for tryouts. They are looking for players who are considerate of others, who assist others when they need it, and who encourage their teammates. Of course, coaches are looking for talented players but more importantly, they’re looking for TEAM players. Because the Team is the key to victory.
Join All American Team Tennis and see how much fun tennis can be when you play on a team. Visit your local Parks Department for more information.
Florida State Assistant Coach, Susie
In Defense of College Coaches
The purpose of college is to train you for future work. Whether it’s as a teacher or an engineer, colleges build upon what you learned in high school to train you for a better future. The same is true for professional athletes, only your instructors are your coaches: offensive coordinator, pitching coach, strength and conditioning coaches, etc. When a high school football player is choosing a college they often consider the things that will help them achieve their goal of playing in the NFL. They consider the location, yes, the history, of course, but let’s not forget the coaches. Is this coach the right coach to get you to the pros? How many other players have they gotten to the pros? This is one of the considerations of college recruiting in sports like football and basketball.
What about college tennis? How many college coaches send their players to the pros? How many college coaches go pro, themselves? Is college even on the path to the pros? Unfortunately, the path to the pros doesn’t go through college. So what about the coaches? If a coach’s value to the university is determined by their team’s accomplishments, and the path to the pros goes around college, how much is a college tennis coach really worth? Coaches are not responsible for a player’s academics, that is in the realm of the professor. They don’t partake of other college extra-curriculars (parties), either. And now we see they can’t get a player to the pros. So what, exactly, do they do? What is their value? What is their worth? Are they nothing more than after school, junior program, tennis instructors, offering a way to pay for college to their small group of players?
Until professional tennis becomes a team sport, colleges and college coaches will remain in a sort of limbo, between accepting high school players who have given up the dream to play professionally, and a professional sport not interested in college talent. It is a situation that must be remedied for not only the game as a whole, but specifically for college tennis coaches.
Consider, for a moment, what a college tennis coach is being asked to do: take a group of players, from different parts of the country, sometimes the world, bring them all together, and get them to play as a team. This is a monumental task considering the tennis environment and players’ attitudes. Tennis players a raised from a very young age to believe they are in it only for themselves, everyone is an opponent, a doubles partner is more of an anchor than a sail, and the best players play singles, while the leftovers play doubles. Now… take those players and make a team out of them, produce a winning record to get into the Conference championships, and eventually the NCAA championships. Good luck. And what do they get in return? A tangible lack of respect from society-at-large because they coach a Team of players rather than an individual. But I would argue that the college tennis coach is an even more accomplished coach because of everything they are asked to do.
The only solution to this problem is to abandon the tour and bring tennis back home. Establish professional tennis in America as a team sport and allow college coaches to work with the next generation of professional tennis talent. Recruit from High Schools, get drafted by the Pros, and watch the sport explode in America. And who knows… maybe your favorite college tennis coach will get called up to the Big Leagues, too! GO TEAM!
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