College Tennis

Becoming good enough to be a college athlete is tough.  Earning a scholarship to play in college is even tougher.  There are lots of youth coaches out there in other sports who tell all parents and kids that scholarships are available as long as they invest thousands per year and play just one sport year-round….  In general, they are lying to everyone.  There are some people out there who will make it, but there are just not enough scholarships out there for everyone who heavily invests their time and effort into athletics.

 

The most accurate thing we can tell you is that non-scholarship college tennis is a realistic goal for quite a few kids in our programs.  I can name at least 12 SHS players who have graduated since 2012 who have been good enough to play at many local colleges.

 

Beyond that, getting good enough to walk on court and play for fun or competitively with most people is a great feeling, whether you play in college or not.  And we will do everything we can to help you become the player that you want to be.  But you'll also have to do your part.

 

If you want to set your sights on playing in college, how good is good enough?  On average, teams like Sherwood produce 1-2 players each year who could play at the D-III level (George Fox, Linfield, Lewis and Clark…).  Some of those teams are getting very tough to make, while others are not.  So, set your sights on being the #1 or #2 player at Sherwood and being able to compete with or beat the #1 players from a lot of other schools.  Easy, right?

If you are heading down that path, one of the best ways to determine where you stand is to play competitively in UTR tournaments (universaltennis.com).  UTR is a rating system that works to rate every competitive tennis player on a single scale that goes from 1 up to 17.  Once you've joined their site (even the free version), you can see players, colleges and ratings.

Just so you know - even the scale goes up to seventeen, over 90% of all players are rated 7 or below and tons and tons of players are rated between 1 and 3.  There are some college players rated 1, and most high school players are probably rated 1.  Escaping 1 and starting to move up is a slow process.  I think that is a huge flaw in the UTR system, but my attempts to get them to change it have gone unnoticed.

Here are some examples of ratings:

Local Women's Teams:

  • Pacific University (D3):  Ratings from 3-7 with some 1s and 2s on their development roster

  • George Fox (D3):  Ratings from 4-6 with some 2s and 3s on their development roster

  • Linfield (D3):  Ratings around 6-7 playing and some 4s and 5s in development

  • Around the Country I've seen D3 women's teams with average ratings from 1.5 up to 9.  So, the level really varies a ton from team to team.

  • University of Portland (D1):  Ratings from 8-10 playing with some other 8s on the team

  • 2022 Oregon 6A State Champion Lauren Han:  9

For Reference:  Sherwood Coaches Todd, Jeroen, Peter:  Ratings around 7.  Roxanne:  Rating around 4

Local Men's Teams:

  • ​Lewis and Clark (D3):  Ratings of 8-10 with some 6s and 7s in development

  • Linfield (D3):  Ratings of 6-8 across the board

  • George Fox (Very Good D3):  Ratings of 9-11

  • University of Portland:  Ratings of 12 and 13 playing and some 10s and 11s in development

  • 2022 Oregon 6A State Champion Will Semler:  11

 

How do you get your skills and your rating up?

 

The easiest way is to be very athletic and put in some time to be good.  Honestly, we’ve had very athletic kids who started their sophomore year, played about 6 months per year and could have played in college.

 

For those of us who aren’t so lucky and aren’t as athletic, you’ll need to put in more time.  You’ll need to improve your athleticism (more fit, faster, stronger) and also improve your skills with lots of practice.  You’ll want to play pretty seriously at least 9 months a year and get some professional instruction to make sure your fundamentals are solid (so you are practicing the right things).

 

Should families invest in tennis like they do for other sports?  The term “invest” when referring to youth sports is interesting.  Nationwide, 99% of the money “invested” will not come back in the form of scholarships.  But it does come back through life skills, learning how to work hard, having fun and building confidence.  So, take advantage of we offer here in Sherwood, but look at options like group lessons at George Fox or some private lessons to make sure your hard work is in the right direction.

 

Will that work for everyone?  Nope.  There are no guarantees, but at the end of the day, you’ll be a lot better than when you started, and tennis is a game that you can play the rest of your life.  And you’ll be able to walk on court and compete with most people, which is great for both social and professional reasons.

And a quick shout out to some of the SHS players with recent college tennis experience:

  • Erica Lee played #1 at Whitworth University and made their All-Decade Team.

  • Courtney Mostul had a successful college tennis career at Linfield

  • Alec Wisthoff also played at Linfield and is not teaching tennis in Washington

  • Zac Bowers got his tennis career started at Sherwood High and played for Southern Virginia

  • Emily McDonald is wrapping up her career at George Fox

  • Abby Ramer is currently playing #2 at Bridgewater State