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Friday, November 23, 2007

Coaches Q and A: The College Choice

This is the third installment of a new feature on zootennis that taps the professional expertise of Andy Brandi and Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Today's question: Should I choose a university for the team or the lineup? Brandi, a two-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association Coach of the Year, responds:

Deciding where to go to college is a tough decision and many factors need to be weighed in making it. Should a player attend a university based on the strength of the team or should they go where they will be in the lineup in every dual match?

Some factors in making the final decision are:

• the coach
• academic counseling
• athletic department
• the facilities
• size of the school
• size of the campus
• dorms
• weather
• academics
• school location
• teammates
• team chemistry
• competition in the conference
• school’s dual match schedule
• fall tournament schedule
• and of course, whether you will be able to play in the lineup as a freshman.

During my 17 years as the women’s coach at the University of Florida, I had the tough job of juggling great players and giving them adequate playing time. It is important that during college, everyone plays enough matches to continue their development.I n some instances players compete in a total of 40-60 matches a year between the fall and spring schedules.
So the question is: do I go for the team or do I go where I know I will play in every match?

The best would be a mix of both. If the team is good then you will have the opportunity to practice every day with players that will challenge you. This will make you better. But if you do not get the opportunity to compete, then your progress would be limited. On the other hand if you play in every match and the daily challenge is not as demanding, then you might not be ready to face tougher opponents.

My suggestion would be to go to a school where the team is very good even if the amount of playing time is limited. It is the coach's job to keep everyone involved and challenged and to look after the development of every player on the team. The coach must be certain that everyone competes in enough matches to keep that competitive edge and to make everyone better, which will then make a very good team! So best of luck in your search!


Anonymous said...

I think that there is no guarantee that the coach on a better team (I'm defining it to mean higher ranked) can keep everyone involved and challenged and develop players. It also depends if you are 1 of 8 players, 1 of 10 or 1 of 14. If you're 1 of 8, it's all good. Depends on the other ones.

Coach Brandi had said getting opportunities to play in matches is how you develop the most. That is a very good point. Depends on the coach's philosophy.

I think it is understood that just because a team is highly ranked, it doesn't guarantee that the coach is a player developer. In my opinion, unless you're going to a proven player developer at a big program where you will sit the bench for two years. You need to go where the opportunities to play exist. And also, many of the medium size programs have coaches that can develop. Some must be able to because they either aren't great recruiters or don't get the top notch juniors.

Something to think about. Great topic.

Anonymous said...

Do colleges look at sectional ranking in the 16s or 18s more in depth? I have about 6 more months until i will age out of 16s but i will be ranked in the top 50 in Norcal within a month or so, whenever the next ranking lists are posted. I am pretty dominant at the 16s open and i have gotten to the last 7 of them w/ semi's or better results. Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

Coaches start looking at past ranking history to see if the player is developing and getting better or regressing. By looking at the 16's ranking, they can compare the 18's ranking and see what kind of progress the individual has accomplished.

So to answer the question, they are both very important. Best of luck.
Andy Brandi