Updated: May 14, 2024

How Hard Is It To Get A Tennis Scholarship?

Female college student with tennis court and players in background

The Realities of Securing a Tennis Scholarship: A Comprehensive Guide

Tennis scholarships are highly sought-after opportunities for aspiring college tennis players, and they can greatly help to fund the cost of college. Tennis is regarded as one of the most competitive sports to play at a collegiate level, with many players going on to play professionally in tournaments across the world. However, like most athletic scholarships for college sports, securing a tennis scholarship is no easy feat.

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We’ve created a comprehensive guide to obtaining a college tennis scholarship to help you get started on your journey as a college athlete. Tennis scholarships are not easy to come by, so you must be well-prepared before diving straight into the competitive world of athletic scholarship hunting.

What are the Main Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining a Tennis Scholarship?

Tennis scholarships are available for Division 1 schools, as these schools have larger budgets that enable them to offer more athletic scholarships. Scholarships are also available for Division 2 schools, but these are generally 'partial' scholarships, which we explore later on in the article. Division 3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships.

When applying for a tennis scholarship, your passion for the sport must shine through, and it’s a given that you’ll be a dedicated athlete. However, there is a standard checklist of eligibility requirements that you must tick off even to be considered for a tennis scholarship. If you’re committed to the sport, though, then it’s likely you’ll have this criteria boxed off already.

How Can I Improve My Chances of Securing a Tennis Scholarship?

Due to the competitive nature of tennis scholarships, you’ll need your application to stand out from the crowd to make an impact on the scholarship committee. If you are determined to have a competitive career as a tennis player, then a scholarship could be the first step towards achieving your dream.

Here are some of the main ways you can improve your scholarship application and increase your chances of being selected for a tennis scholarship award:

Where Can I Find Tennis Scholarships?

At Scholarships.com, we offer a comprehensive database for you to browse through to see what college scholarships are available for you. Below, we’ve listed some of the best tennis scholarships available, but you should also contact your school’s admissions office, as well as browse Scholarships.com, to see the complete list of options available to you.

  1. USTA Foundation Scholarships: The USTA Foundation provides scholarships to exceptional junior tennis players who display a combination of on-court excellence, academic achievement, and community involvement. This scholarship allows students to have an excellent college education whilst performing tennis at a high collegiate level. Take a look at their website for more information.
  2. ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Scholarships: The ITA offers scholarships to college tennis players based on their athletic and academic achievements. Their website, which you can find here, provides information on scholarship opportunities and how to apply.
  3. The Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award: This scholarship, named after the late tennis legend Arthur Ashe Jr., honors student-athletes of color who excel in sports and academics. The award includes a financial scholarship and is administered by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. More information can be found here.
  4. College-Specific Tennis Scholarships: Many colleges and universities offer scholarships to talented tennis players who show potential to contribute to their teams. Stanford University, The University of Georgia, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), are just some of the many schools that offer excellent tennis scholarships and athletic programs. It is important to note that Ivy League schools, such as Harvard University, do not offer athletic scholarships, and student-athletes must instead look for an academic, merit-based scholarship or needs-based scholarship. Check with the athletic departments or the tennis programs of colleges you are interested in to learn about any available scholarships exclusive to their school.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of scholarship options, and scholarship opportunities may vary each year. It is essential to thoroughly research and be proactive in seeking out scholarships by visiting official tennis association websites, college athletic department websites, and our database at Scholarships.com. Additionally, reaching out to high school tennis coaches, guidance counselors, and college coaches can provide valuable insights on specific scholarship opportunities.

What if I'm an International Athlete?

International athletes have as much of a chance of obtaining a tennis scholarship as U.S. citizens, with international recruiting a common occurrence. College tennis actually has the highest percentage of foreign athletes compared to any other NCAA sport.

The intense level of competition for tennis at a college level means that you must demonstrate an incredible standard of athleticism in your scholarship application, so regardless of whether you are born in America or you're an international recruit, your chances of obtaining a scholarship come down to your ability, work ethic, and academic standard.

In fact, in 2017, a reported 34.4% of Division 1 Men's College Tennis players and 35.4% of Women's Division 1 players were internationally recruited. If you're an American high school student, this means that competition for scholarships and places in a college tennis program is heightened, so potential recruits need to consistently communicate with their coaches to get themselves noticed.

What are Some Common Challenges Faced in the Process of Getting a Tennis Scholarship?

Athletic scholarships are notoriously competitive and often difficult to obtain, but that shouldn’t stop you from applying and aiming high. As of 2022, 15 men in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) top 100 were college tennis players, and it is always worth pursuing your athletic goals regardless of the potential obstacles along the way.

We’ve listed some of the common challenges that can make it harder for students to receive a tennis scholarship, but don't let this deter you from applying for the amazing opportunity to play tennis and pursue your tennis career.

Bearing these factors in mind, it’s therefore essential that your scholarship application showcases your ability and personality, making an impact on the scholarship awarding committee. Take time to craft your application, demonstrate your ability in the best way possible, and spend time improving your skill set to be the best that you can be.

Are Tennis Scholarships Full-Ride or Partial Scholarships?

Do I Get Paid to Play Tennis in College?

Like all collegiate sports, you do not get paid to play tennis at a college level. Whilst you would not receive a salary, a full-ride or partial scholarship is essentially your way of playing sports at this level without having to worry about tuition fees and other college costs.

What Alternatives Are There to Tennis Scholarships for Aspiring College Tennis Players?

The challenges faced when applying for a tennis scholarship means that not every aspiring college athlete will receive one, and although it can seem negative, it’s important to have some backup options at your disposal should you not be awarded a tennis scholarship.

Increase Your Chance of Joining a College Tennis Program with a Tennis Scholarship

In conclusion, obtaining a tennis scholarship requires exceptional talent, dedication, and hard work. Players need to excel in both their tennis skills and academics to stand out from the competition.

Navigating the recruitment process can be challenging, and scholarships may vary in terms of coverage. For those who may not secure a tennis scholarship, alternative options such as walk-on positions or academic scholarships can still provide opportunities to pursue their tennis dreams while obtaining higher education.