Women all across the nation are using tennis as a way to pay for a college education that has risen in cost by 55 percent in just the last decade.
Tennis is traditionally a country club sport that is played for leisure. Although, the sport provides exponential opportunity for those who choose to take up the game competitively. Over 314 schools in the United States offer money for female student athletes to compete for their school. 2,512 division one scholarship athletes currently compete in NCAA division one tennis. That money amasses a total of 560 million awarded to just women. It’s vital for some student athletes because without the sport it would be nearly impossible to attend college. Junior tennis athlete Haleigh Porter spoke on how tennis opened doors that she didn’t think were options before the game.
“Before recruiting I didn’t realize how far tennis could actually take me… If a student excels on the court and in the classroom, it can provide them with opportunities that they wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she said.
For some athletes the game is their passion that in turn results in benefits like a full ride scholarship. For others, the game serves a larger purpose all together. Programs throughout the country recruit younger players with the intent of assisting them to potentially get a scholarship in their sport. Sophomore tennis player Adrienne Clayton was recruited by her mentor at an early age, which she said made all the difference. The program was rigorous but gave Clayton the exact result that her mentor had intended for her. Clayton spoke on the purpose of her tennis training program.
“The program was in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s called the Halle Park Junior Tennis Development Program. And that was their goal. To recruit kids and help them to get to college and receive a scholarship for playing tennis in college.”
The game also provides a structure to student-athletes lives that prepares them for the hectic schedule that academics can throw at you. Porter, a broadcast journalism student, spoke about how tennis mentally prepares her for the classroom.
“If I can compete in a two-hour tennis match, if I can mentally grind through that, and do it at a high level. Then I can go into the classroom and focus and give it my all for a couple hours.”
For some tennis is merely a past time or fun, but for student athletes it could be the difference between life with a college education and life without one.