1. There aren't enough scholarships or opportunities for very many players at the college level
There are so many different levels of college tennis and scholarship opportunities out there! Keep in mind that, in addition to the NAIA and NJCAA, there are three different levels of NCAA college tennis--that's a total of five levels you can continue to compete in while you study. Each level has different athletic and academic scholarships, so be sure to ask the coach what might be available to you. This is also where deciding what you want from your college experience will become important--do you want a big school or a small school? A liberal arts college, or a technology-focused university? Do some research on the schools that offer the courses of study you're most interested in, then contact their tennis coach.
2. Results are the only thing that matter
Not true! College coaches look at so much more than just results. They are looking for the right personality, work ethic, and drive that will be the best fit for their team. Yes, coaches want to see how well a player can compete, but score isn't always the best indication of that. Coaches will want to talk to your private coach, high school coach, and other players that may know you to get a feel for who you are as an athlete and a person. Keep in mind that college tennis has a huge team component, so how you treat your opponents will matter, as well as your composure in adverse situations.
3. Only USTA Tournaments count
This is such a dated idea. First of all, like I said above, coaches aren't looking at any one thing when it comes to recruiting players, and the same concept applies to tournaments. With so many different governing bodies hosting a growing number of tournaments, players are able to showcase a wide variety of competition in their portfolio. Play ITA, ITF, USTA, Local, and the new UTR tournaments so college coaches can see you compete in diverse environments against different players. Coaches also travel to many different types of tournaments, so don't worry about missing out on one or two "big" tournaments a year.
4. Players that reach out to coaches are desperate
Um, no--this is just plain wrong. Coaches want to see what kind of initiative you have. Starting in your sophomore year of high school, you can reach out to coaches, but they can not reach out to you. Building good relationships is key to finding the program that is best suited for you, so don't be shy! You can send a quick introductory email followed by a phone call. Small touches, like following up a conversation with a thank-you email or a handwritten note, go a long way to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively and highlight your focus on playing college tennis.
5. Grades don't matter
Many players think they can have a collegiate athletic career without having good grades and test scores. Remember that the phrase is "student-athlete," so studies come first. Coaches want to see that you can manage your time between coursework, training, and traveling. Also, depending on what the coach and school has available, they may be able to help you receive academic grants and scholarships to subsidize your athletic scholarship. This is particularly important to men's college tennis, as they have fewer full scholarships available, even at the highest level.