NCAA in the U.S. – a vehicle to the pros, Norrie, Collins, McEnroe, Brady, Isner, 10 questions about college tennis

College tennis in the U.S. has long been a pathway to the ATP and WTA tours.

Cameron Norrie Britain’s Cameron Norrie reacts during his quarter final match against Belgium’s David Goffin (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

You can learn more about NCAA tennis here and here

What is college tennis?

College tennis – or NCAA tennis – is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the United States. There are 314 “Division 1” schools that can offer over 12 scholarships per program, across men’s and women’s teams. The teams will compete in a form of team tennis that leads them to the NCAA championships in team and individuals, in singles and in doubles.

How do players get signed up for college tennis?

Players are recruited by schools and can receive a free college education if they are granted a scholarship to attend a specific university. For many athletes who are unsure if they want to test themselves at the pro level, college tennis can provide a safer alternative, while still allowing for top-level tennis to be played.

Do college tennis players make money?

No, college tennis players play for free, but they are frequently given scholarships to the universities they play for and have their playing and travel needs comped. If they do play professional events they are forbidden to earn prize money or else they will be disqualified from NCAA tennis.

Is college tennis only for American players?

No, players from all over the world can play college tennis. It is up to the schools who they want to recruit to make up their programs.

Are the rules of college tennis the same as the rules on the ATP and WTA Tour?

Basically, but there are differences. Matches are played with no-ad scoring, and no lets. Fans in attendance are allowed to make as much noise as they wish between points. College players typically call their own lines.

How many college tennis players are there?

A lot. There are approximately 5,000 Division 1 college players (and about 20,000 college tennis players across all levels), of which about one third are international students. There are also Division II and Division III players, but they are lower level programs and very rarely funnel into the pros.

Who are some of the most famous college tennis players?

John McEnroe played a season for Stanford University in California, and Jimmy Connors played NCAA tennis as well. They aren’t the only famous players to have joined the college ranks. On the ATP tour now, there is John Isner, Danielle Collins, Cameron Norrie, Jennifer Brady, Mackenzie McDonald, Maxime Cressy, Marcos Giron, Brandon Nakashima and many more. Kevin Anderson was a former college player.

Danielle Collins
Danielle Collins of the U.S. reacts during her first round match against Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

What special benefit is there for winning the NCAA Division 1 singles tournament?

Every year the winner of the NCAA Division 1 singles tournament gets a singles wild card into the US Open draw. This year’s winners are Americans Ben Shelton, of Florida University, and Peyton Stearns of Texas University.

How many college tennis players are currently in the top-50?

As of the July 25, 2022 rankings:

There are three on the ATP Tour – Cameron Norrie, No 13, John Isner, No 25 and Maxime Cressy No 34. On the WTA Tour there are currently two – No 9 Danielle Collins and No 46.

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