While you don’t necessarily need the on-the-court skills of Venus Williams or Roger Federer to be competitive for a tennis scholarship, the sport does place a higher premium on talent than many other sports. As most tennis scholarships are awarded by the student athletes’ intended colleges, they also require minimum GPAs to determine initial eligibility and continued high academic achievement even after you make the team.
As the popularity of tennis grows, so does the competition for scholarships. Both male and female players compete for limited annual resources, despite a larger number of athletes playing the game on the college level. If you’re a decent player but not interested in a tennis career after you graduate, consider applying to schools with lesser-known tennis programs where you could not only be eligible for a full-ride, but a good academic experience and more time competing.
Most tennis scholarships will come directly from the college you plan on attending, or an alumni fund linked to your school. For these and other examples of where to find tennis scholarships, check out the examples below. For additional information about awards based on different criteria, try conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
About $1 billion in full and partial athletic scholarships are awarded each year by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to more than 126,000 undergraduate student-athletes at Division I and Division II schools. Although these scholarships are awarded and administered directly by each academic institution, not the NCAA, you’ll be required to meet the requirements of the NCAA to receive any funding. Those requirements include a minimum GPA for both the college-bound and those already on campuses, and qualifying standardized test scores. Contact your intended school’s athletic department for more information if you have the academics and the skill to play on a college team.
The NCAA won’t be the only resource for you to investigate if you’re pursuing tennis on the post-secondary level. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) also awards full and partial scholarships to talented athletes. If you’re a tennis player interested in community college, consider contacting those schools about potential scholarship opportunities in your sport. (NJCAA schools can offer 14 annual scholarships at the Division I level and another 14 at the Division II level.) If you’re at a high level of play with a decent academic record, consider your options on the junior college level, but know that if you transfer to an NCAA college after two years, the GPA and standardized test score requirements may be stricter.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) also offers scholarships on both the Division I and Division II level. While the association will have fewer scholarships to go around than the more expansive NCAA, the requirements of getting onto a team and staying there at an NAIA school are less strict. Students must have two of the following three criteria: have a minimum ACT score of 18 or minimum SAT score of 860, have a minimum 2.0 GPA, or have graduated high school in the top half of your graduating class. Don’t rule out NAIA schools when looking for colleges where you could be a student-athlete.
If you plan on playing tennis in college, whether on a varsity team or on the club level, your intended college could have funds and endowments set up by alumni who have played the sport before you ever set foot on that campus or in honor of relatives and important figures to your school. Eastern Illinois University, for example, has the C. Roger Sorensen Tennis Scholarship. Established in 1991, this scholarship benefits a deserving tennis player currently participating in tennis at EIU, or in support of an incoming freshman whose high school career shows potential to help Eastern Illinois University’s tennis team. The recipient must have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Make sure you do your research, and talk to your financial aid office and athletic departments about local and college-based awards you could be eligible for.
State Tennis Foundations/Associations
Many state tennis associations will reward their members with scholarship opportunities to help them continue playing the sport while in college. The Texas Tennis and Education Foundation, for example, rewards high school students who will be entering college, and college students who are in good standing at their respective college or university, who live in the Texas Section of the association with scholarships of at least $1,000. The organization also disburses awards for tennis camps, in case you want to improve upon your skills before pursuing college coaches.