TENNIS TODAY: From building a junior program to college
In the coming weeks, we'll be getting a look at the high school rosters for the spring tennis season. And also an idea of which players will be focusing on singles, and what doubles teams will be established.
These line ups are always subject to change as the season approaches, and then progresses, as the goal for every coach is to get their players out of the district, and into regional competition, and ultimately state playoffs. At the same time individual players are working on their USTA ranking by playing ZATs (Zone Acceptance Tournaments).
After accumulating 64 points in the ZAT tournaments, a player moves up to Championship level play and another accumulation of points. The highest level of play is Super Championship in the state of Texas. These are players that are totally committed to the sport and usually seeking a college scholarship.
Thus, between a player's high school tournament schedule (and success), and their USTA results, a junior tennis player stays pretty busy.
Now, this is where confusion sets in, for players and parents. What means more, a state singles or doubles championship, or a top 20 USTA single's ranking. If you want to know about getting into college tennis, both mean a lot.
But think about what college coaches look for: a 4A or 5A state championship carries more weight than the smaller school championship.
So what helps the small school player is their USTA ranking because you play everyone at your age and given level (ZAT, Champs, or Supers) regardless of school size.
I think about how I got into college and how I earned my tennis scholarship. In my senior year of high school, my USTA singles ranking was No. 80 in the state, and my doubles partner and I were top 20 in USTA Texas and had made it to the 5A state high school doubles finals in Austin.
Neither stood on its own to get me anywhere. Together, they got my doubles partner and me a tryout. His USTA singles ranking was No. 42, so there was a much better chance they were going to take him before me.
But they wanted us as a doubles team, so I basically had to prove to the coaches I at least had the potential to be a good singles player.
Let's face it, at that time in my tennis career, I wasn't. As it turned out, in our freshman year he played number three singles, and I played number six singles, and together we played number two doubles.
Our sophomore through senior years, he played number one singles while I played number three singles. And together we played number one doubles.
So, at the end of the day, you put the two avenues together (high school and USTA Texas), and you come up with a great mix of exposure for both high school and college coaches. The tennis industry is very big, but it can also be very small.
Everyone watches, and they all converse.
Philip Perez is the assistant head tennis professional at Victoria Country Club. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.