USTA or ITF or Tennis Recruiting or Universal Tennis Rating – What do College Coaches Want?

Two go by your age, one goes by your high school graduation year and one lumps everyone together on the same list regardless of age, gender or academic/professional status.  Two are based on head to head, either direct or indirect and two are based mostly on points.  Two of them only look at American players and the other two look at every player in the world playing tournaments.  Some include doubles, some do not.  So what do college coaches look at?  Well just like the players have different playing styles, the coaches have different recruiting styles and different colleges have different needs.  I asked several respected coaches from around the Northeast what they use in deciding who they want on their teams.  Here is what they had to say.

Andreas P. Christodoulou
Head Coach – Women’s Tennis
SIENA COLLEGE (Division 1)

SienaEventImageWe use the USTA and the Tennis Recruiting ( rankings and statistics as a starting point, they are both great resources and can be used to gather a lot of useful information.   But after that, we dive right into the “intangibles”.  Denisa Hluchova (my assistant) and I start comparing results between players we know and the players we are evaluating for our program.  We look at results to find prospects that is willing to fight tooth and nail to the very last point.  We talk and ask the, teaching professionals, and tournament directors about the prospective student athlete’s character, court disposition and coach-ability.  We also communicate with high school counselors. All this enables us to build a “comprehensive picture” about the individual.

My philosophy is that I am trying to find the right fit for our program. I don’t necessarily take the highest ranked or the best player. I look for a player that shows dedication and a desire to get better; someone who will help our program keep improving on the courts and in the classroom. Someone that brings a little extra, other than tennis, to the table.

As a coach, I am trying to figure out whether a player will fit into our program. I tell our recruits all the time that we consider many variables when placing them on our recruiting list.  We recruit student-athletes who have the ability to communicate consistently, win tight matches, form good relationships among other junior players, and have a strong desire to improve.

Once the recruiting process starts and I have contacted the prospective student athlete, I already know all about her wins, stars, and rankings. What I want to know now is what kind of person she is on and off the court.  How she will be when we go on the road on a long weekend tournament or for dual matches (Saturday and Sunday)?  We are together on the courts and on the road for a long time riding on a lot of emotional lows and highs.   I want to know that we have recruited a genuine, solid individual/player willing to put the team first.

Gary Glassman
Head Coach – Men’s & Women’s Tennis

Stony Brook
It’s been several years since I’ve looked at the USTA rankings. TennisRecruiting is much more accessible and more convenient. Most of the coaches I speak with are of the same mindset.
Right away gives you an overall profile. The results are up to date and it’s easy to see how the kids stack up with their competitors.

Gordon Graham
Head Coach – Women’s Tennis
UAlbanyIn my recruiting process, I use the following things to evaluate talent:
  • the Universal Tennis Rating system;
  • ITF and/or USTA rankings
  • results vs. specific opponents
  • video
  • watching players in live action
  • talking with references and others who may know them
  • meeting and talking with them on the phone and in person.
Of the first three, I don’t really favor one over another.  Instead I consider all three and use that info to put together the pieces of the puzzle.  I do like the Universal system which compares players to everyone in the world, not just in the USA.

David Hagymas
Head Coach – Men’s Tennis
M.I.T.  (Division 3)
mit-logoI only use the Tennis Recruiting Rankings, period.  I find it is SO easy to look at what there level is very quickly. It shows different rankings , state, national, etc… It also shows who they played and the scores , what their opponents where ranked and so on.   There simply is not a easier or better tool out there right now.  The USTA rankings may different slightly but generally are in the ball park and the emphasis on the actual ranking is not the most important consideration but acts as a general ability level.  By going to tennis recruiting I can tell if i am interested in a kid in less that 30 seconds. Thats great.  Most coaches I talk to use the site almost exclusively.  Now a universal Ranking system, that would be the best way to go to include international players. One worldwide ranking system.  The USTA system is flawed in my opinion and hurts the development of our players.

Barry Schoonmaker
Head Coach – Men’s & Women’s Tennis
Colby Sawyer College  (Division 3)

Colby SawyerAs a coach, I always use both rankings.

 Tennis recruiting is great because the players are ranked just within their class.  Plus, on that site, you can see other information – who their coach is, where they play, address, SAT scores/high school grades.

However, I use the USTA ranking also.  They incorporate doubles into the rankings.  I’m sure there are some people that don’t like that, but as a college coach, I do.  In division III doubles is worth three of nine points in a match – that’s 1/3 of the points Based on an 8 game pro set!  So, I like to see kids who play doubles and their results in doubles competition.

 Although I like both, I tend to use tennis recruiting more, simply because of all The other information provided.

Tim Smith
Head Coach – Men’s Tennis
Marist College  (Division 1)

Marist logoI think this is a very good article to write.  I am really amazed at the disparity even with in Tennis Recruiting rankings.

What I look at, is how competitive players I am recruiting, have been against higher ranked players.  I am also interested how they have done in back draws of major tournaments.   I tend to stay away from four star players that have a losing record against other four star players, unless they have some very good wins.

I don’t go by Sectional Rankings because the sections range in depth.   A player ranked fifth in Northern California, frequently can not compete with the fortieth ranked player ranked from Southern California.

Also, I like players that have played two sports in high school, especially soccer, hockey, basketball or football. The rankings are only a starting point to start looking at a player and I would much rather recruit a player with upside than a player who has been playing since he was six but has not developed any weapons and really does not have a solid serving motion.

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