Demystifying College Tennis
Understanding the Divisions So you know you want to play tennis in college, but how do you know where you would fit in? What’s the deal with the different divisions and how can you land one of those sought-after athletic scholarships? Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps allow players to fulfill their full potential and many of our former campers have gone on to play at the collegiate level in all divisions. Not only do the camps provide campers with chances to develop their fundamental skills and play against new opponents, they also provide exposure to college campuses, college coaches, and former or current college players who are always willing to talk about their road to becoming a college athlete.
To make things easier for those who are in the process of applying to colleges, those who think they may want to play in college and those who are dreaming big, here’s a breakdown of the three divisions and what you can expect as a player in each one.
Division I: Division I is made up of the largest schools, top facilities, top coaching and a mixture of top national and international players. Some recent Division I players who have gone pro include the Bryan Brothers (Stanford University) and John Isner (University of Georgia). Division I programs offer great opportunities for travel all over the country and tough competition, but it is important that remember that you may not ever play. Division I offers athletic scholarships, with an average of 4.5 scholarships per team for men and eight scholarships per team for women, but there have been reports of these scholarships becoming scarce. (Source) (Source) Academically, Division I schools have a lot to offer in the classroom, but as a Division I athlete (especially one with a scholarship) your time will be focused equally or more so on athletics. Two to three hour daily practices are common in addition to conditioning time. With athletics taking up most out of class time, there will be few opportunities for additional extra-curricular activities. Class sizes will also be larger with a low teacher-student ratio.
Division II: Division II is made up of a mixture of public and private universities that generally have less than 10,000 students. (Source) Division II offers many of the same benefits as Division I but on a smaller and less competitive scale. As smaller institutions, Division II tennis programs receive less financial support and often have weaker facilities than Division I programs. Scholarships are available, with an average of 4.5 scholarships per team for men and six scholarships per team for women, but most of these scholarships are partial rather than full. (Source) Academically, Division II schools have a higher teacher-student ratio and smaller classes. While there is still a heavy time commitment to tennis, the reduced amount of cross-country travel allows student-athletes more time for academics and additional extra-curricular activities. Grades are just as important as rankings for most Division II schools, so it is important to keep focus on academics and test scores.
Division III: Division III schools are small, often private universities that focus more heavily on academics than athletics. However, the scarcity of scholarships at the Division I level along with increased focus on academics by young players has brought many top level players to Division III schools, making the level of play increasingly competitive. (Source) Players at Division III schools are more likely to consistently play. Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, but can very often find merit scholarships for athletes that are also academically strong. Practices and conditioning are shorter and travel is generally limited to the regional area, giving athletes more time to commit to academics and additional extra-curricular activities. Division III schools also make it easier to be a multi-sport athlete. Academically, grades are crucial for acceptance into and continuation in a Division III tennis program. Teacher-student ratios are at their peak and small class sizes allow for more personal attention and academic assistance. Overall, Division III is the most realistic option for the majority of players. Division III schools also boast the highest graduation rates of their student athletes.