January 10, 2020

My College Recruiting Experience
By Erika Vujnovich
Erika Vujnovich is a mother of two boys who play competitive sports. She is also a former athlete who played Division I tennis at Brown University. Recently she has begun to explore the dynamic between parenting and sports and can speak firsthand on her experience on raising two athletes.
Tennis opened many doors for me growing up and continues to do so today in the workplace. Potential employers I meet, review my resume and see that I played college tennis and taught tennis after school. This inevitably becomes the focus of our conversation. Something I am truly proud to discuss.

I grew up on the courts and trained at a high profile academy on Long Island, dedicating my time to the sport and academics. My goal was to play high - level tennis and attend a good school post graduation. Competition was fierce in my town. Whether you were competing in academics or athletics, the ultimate goal was to get into a top school after graduation. This warrants its own chapter, but as you can imagine growing up in this environment was not easy. The memories and emotions of success as well as rejection take me back to being a teenager —  following a dream to play collegiate tennis.

Fast forward to Junior and Senior years of high school and the college recruitment process begins! And let me just say...it was a lot of fun!

The tears and frustration I often experienced growing up and playing tennis were now well worth it. I was appreciated, I was wanted, and I was ready for my future.

During this exciting time, I spoke to and visited with coaches from several universities. I even had the opportunity to spend a weekend at a school to learn the ropes from members of the tennis team. This is where things got a bit tricky and lessons were learned; which I only hope I can pass along to others.

Just like most aspiring freshmen, the college application process was new and while it was exciting, it was also overwhelming. During my discussions with coaches, there was one coach in particular who was extremely enthusiastic about having me join the tennis team.
As we continued to speak about the future, I was told by the coach that “there was no need to apply to any other schools.” They were looking forward to me joining the tennis team in the Fall. I therefore jumped at the opportunity to apply early. I made it. Why even apply anywhere else? I was in! My future was set! As I later found out, this was not the best decision made.

As the weeks passed and I waited for “the” acceptance letter in the mail (yes, letters were sent by actual mail back then) I stopped pursuing other opportunities. However, when the day came and the letter arrived, my world fell apart. I didn’t get into my dream school. In fact, I didn’t even get wait listed; I was rejected!

When I finally calmed down and called the coach who had promised me the world, the only explanation I received was, “sorry, the school decided to take a different direction this year with acceptances.” Sorry? What? All I could think about were the other choices I let slip away. And that I had a lot of work ahead to submit applications by the deadlines.

Ultimately, things worked out for me as I was torn between two great schools and two reputable tennis teams: Tufts University and Brown University. I went from devastation to having a really good problem. And more importantly, I achieved my goal to play collegiate tennis!

I certainly don’t want to scare anyone about the recruitment process but rather make people aware that they must look out for their own interests and leave all options open as they navigate through the process. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Flashback to the rejection letter and realizing that today is exactly where I’m meant to be. In the end, things work out and I wish only the best for all graduating Tennis Innovators Academy students getting ready for this awesome journey!