Junior players dedicate plenty of time and effort to become the most attractive college tennis recruit. Most of them rely on their UTR, rankings, and who they beat to get coaches’ attention. That data is with no doubt key for coaches to compare recruits, but by no means is the main and final deciding factor.
So how can players add, reinforce or make up for their on-court results? It starts by understanding what is most important for coaches and identifying their “pains”. So, I recently reached out to key people in the college tennis industry and asked the following question: “What is for you a Perfect College Recruit”? And here is what they said:
“The perfect college recruit for us is someone who is committed to train and perform at the highest level both on and off the court. Rice will challenge them. They need to have the maturity, accountability, and self-discipline to excel at everything we throw at them.”
Efe Ustundag - Head Men’s Head Coach at Rice University
"No one is perfect, but a perfect recruit is someone who is talented, yet is always trying to get better. Better student. Better teammate. Better player. Better person. Someone who celebrates the successes, but keeps going."
Chris Brandi - Head Men’s Coach at LSU
“The perfect tennis recruit is a warrior competitor in tennis and in life. She has a growth mindset; loves challenges and has a relentless will to improve. She respects the game, every opponent, her coaches, and her parents. The perfect recruit is a resilient competitor on the court and off-court. The perfect recruit maintains a growth mindset on the court and off-court. The perfect recruit is respectful on the court and off-court”.
Audra Cohen - Head Women’s Coach at the University of Oklahoma
“A high-quality college tennis recruit is a player who can contribute on the court based on their UTR; eager and motivated to improve their game and the team overall; well balanced and shows the ability to face adversity, and would represent and make a positive contribution to the team both on and off the court.”
Mark Leschly - Chairman & CEO Universal Tennis
“The perfect college recruit is a player that obviously enjoys tennis, both in competitive and practice scenarios. Joy is contagious and a recruit who has it is invaluable to a team”.
Bob Dallis - Head Women’s Coach at Dartmouth College
“What separates good recruits from great recruits is the overall package of tennis and how they are as a person. I would search for a kid with high moral values and sportsmanship. On the court, there is no substitute for hard work. A kid who has a sense of gratitude and thrives in a team environment. Understands its role and is ready to support their teammates”
Jacopo Tezza - Director of Evert Tennis Academy
“Tennis level aside, our “perfect recruit” would be someone who: has a passion for the sport; is mature enough to take care of academic and off-court responsibilities; wants to be pushed and coached hard; recognizes the importance of facing competitive improvement head-on; and has a healthy balance of personal drive towards individual goals and deep caring for the success of the team”
Bruce Berque - Head Men’s Coach at University of Texas
“The perfect recruit is someone who believes in him/her self and has a passion for life in general. An athlete who has physical and cognitive skills. Someone who prioritizes and understands that academics goes first. A real team player”.
Gabe Jaramillo - Coach & Co-founder of Club Med Academies
“There is no such thing as the perfect prospect. John Isner had a great serve and forehand, but he was not the quickest player around, but his strengths carried the day for him most of the time. So I look for kids who are solid fundamentally which to work from. Those who are technically sound and understand the game. After that I look at what I call the intangibles: How they compete; do they love the work; do they enjoy the process to get better; how do they work through the challenges. Their characters plays also a huge part in this. How they engage with peers, are they friendly and will they get along with their teammates”
Manuel Diaz- Head Men’s Coach at the University of Georgia
"For me, the perfect combination of qualities I would look for in a college recruit starts with the character of the player. I want someone with a great fighting spirit, who is disciplined and hard-working. He or she needs to be a team player and always bring a positive attitude. Physical and technical abilities can always improve as long as I have someone that is willing to put in the work."
Antonio Torri - Director Pro World Academy
"My ideal recruit? Talented, self-starter, self-aware, have a growth mindset, can tolerate setbacks, is willing to dive deep to take advantage of his tennis ability, is committed to helping his teammates succeed...and wants to prove himself deserving of the opportunity to attend Harvard. Having said that, I’ve never had a recruit who met all those criteria. A coach’s job is to help young men grow into responsible young adults. Everyone is different."
Dave Fish - Former Head Men’s Coach at Harvard University
“Someone who loves the game and is excited about getting better. While talent is certainly a necessary starting point, coachability, and excitement for the team go a long way for me. Academically, someone who feels like they can thrive in whatever major and interest."
Mike Morgan - Head Coach at Pomona Pitzer College
“A player who is always willing to put the team’s interest first. A leader who motivates others to become the best player possible. Who forgets about his or her own last name, and sacrifices its own individual interest”.
Willy Campos - Director at Witt Academy
I hope that you learned from what you just read before you speak to your next college coach. Best of luck!
CEO & Founder at University Sports Program