Recruits showcase skills and talent during HBCU National Tennis Championships

Rising high school student-athletes had the opportunity to interact with and impress several Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) tennis coaches in the City of South Fulton (Georgia) last weekend. During the Intercollegiate Tennis Association sanctioned HBCU National Tennis Championships at the South Fulton Tennis Center, nearly 40 boys and girls displayed their on-court skills and talent while being exposed to the coaches in attendance.

“We’re going to be looking at the high school players that are here,” said Florida A&M University’s Director of Tennis and Head Women’s Tennis Coach, Rochelle “Nikki” Houston.

“It’s been a beautiful few days,” Houston said, commenting on the recruiting activities that took place during the 21st edition of the HBCU National Tennis Championships.

“It’s a really good opportunity to be seen by coaches from different states,” said 16-year-old Brooke Smalls, a Georgia native and member of the Class of 2024.

Currently ranked #56 in Georgia, according to Tennis Recruiting Network, Smalls participated in singles and doubles match play while being evaluated by Houston and the other coaches in attendance that gathered information and established personal relationships with players and parents.

“A great showcase overall,” said Melody Smalls, Brooke’s mother.

“The 2022 HBCU Recruiting Showcase is a great platform that highlights superior athletic talent, and direct access to coaches.”

“This showcase also motivates high school juniors and seniors, such as Brooke, to explore all of their possibilities and to continue to aspire to become great student athletes at colleges and universities that might not have been on their radar,” said Smalls.

17-year-old Tyler Ladge, who “plans to go to an HBCU” upon graduating next spring, produced a strong showing during the organized match play coordinated by USTA Southern’s Director of Diversity, NJTL & Grants, Cee Jai Jones, and South Atlanta Community Tennis Association Founder and Arise Athlete Foundation Board Member, Sam Kennedy.

“I’m glad I have the chance to be here and showcase my skills in front of so many coaches from HBCUs,” said Ladge, a McDonough, Georgia resident ranked #52 in the state.

“The information we received from coaches and Arise Athlete Foundation is invaluable and useful. I’m glad I’m here!”

Arise Athlete Foundation representatives presented information on the college recruiting process aimed to encourage student-athletes to properly plan to succeed in school, sports, and life. Topics discussed included eligibility requirements, the recruiting calendar, and personal development practices.

“By helping them (student-athletes) understand all aspects of the recruitment process, matching them with their best college program, and keeping them connected to a network of support throughout their entire career from 7th grade until they graduate from college,” Arise Athlete Foundation draws on the leadership of former Temple University tennis player and USTA employee, Jordan B. Jenkins.

Using its proprietary Student-Athlete Management Application that engages parents, coaches, and mentors to work with student-athletes to create a community and network of support, Arise Athlete Foundation aims to “empower student athletes to take control of their athletic, academic, and future career goals.”

Arise Athlete Foundation representative presents information to recruiting showcase participants during the 21st HBCU National Tennis Championships.

Episcopal Academy junior Kamora Helton traveled from Pennsylvania to participate in the recruiting showcase that featured recruits from 10 states throughout the country. A member of the Class of 2024, Helton expressed interest in Alabama’s Tuskegee University as her mother, Joni, engaged with the university’s Head Men’s & Women’s Tennis Coach, Gregory Green.

“It’s been good,” said Helton, currently ranked #14 in Pennsylvania according to Tennis Recruiting Network.

“My mom and I have spoken to a few of the coaches. I’m excited to play my last match and show them what I’m capable of.”

National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, Division 1 men’s tennis programs can offer scholarships up to a maximum of 4.5 athletes each season whereas women tennis teams can have up to 8.

There are 317 NCAA Division I women’s tennis programs and 255 men’s tennis programs.

The odds of making a NCAA Division I men’s varsity tennis team are 174:1 with the odds of making an NCAA Division I women’s tennis team being 181:1.

Tennis has the highest percentage of foreign student athletes competing than any other NCAA sport and as a result the odds of a US player making a NCAA Division I roster are the steepest – by far – of all NCAA sports, according to scholarshipstats.com.

Tyler Ladge (left) and Flex Howard (right) comment on their experience at the 2022 HBCU National Tennis Championships Recruiting Showcase presented by USTA Southern and South Atlanta Community Tennis Association.
Brooke Smalls comments on her experience at the 2022 HBCU National Tennis Championships Recruiting Showcase presented by USTA Southern and South Atlanta Community Tennis Association.
Nearly 40 student-athletes participated in the 2022 HBCU National Tennis Championships Recruiting Showcase presented by USTA Southern and South Atlanta Community Tennis Association.
Nearly 40 student-athletes participated in the 2022 HBCU National Tennis Championships Recruiting Showcase presented by USTA Southern and South Atlanta Community Tennis Association.
Nearly 40 student-athletes participated in the 2022 HBCU National Tennis Championships Recruiting Showcase presented by USTA Southern and South Atlanta Community Tennis Association.

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