Fall Signing Week '13: National Recruiting Roundup
by Dallas Oliver, 12 November 2013
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Signing Week is underway, and tomorrow, senior tennis players will begin signing their National Letters of Intent with Division I and Division II schools. We have been tracking verbal commitments for several months (boys, girls), and throughout the remainder of the week, we will be featuring live commitment announcements from a number of highly-recruited boys and girls.
Today, we hear from seniors around the nation in our National Roundup. We recently talked with a number of senior recruits who plan to sign NLIs during the Fall signing period, which officially begins tomorrow. We asked them about their college choices - and how they reached their decisions.
Here are the athletes we talked with:
Take a look at what they had to say...
Cody Rakela (Scotts Valley, Calif.) to UCSB
Four-star senior Cody Rakela has some big results on his record, including reaching the Round of 32 in Kalamazoo and reaching the doubles semifinal at the Easter Bowl. Rakela, who considered UCSB, Cal, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Pennsylvania, is excited about the doors that tennis has opened. for him.
"Tennis has created new opportunities for me that would have never been possible," said Rakela. "I am grateful for that."
Next fall, Rakela will have the opportunity to compete for the UCSB Gauchos.
Congratulations on your commitment! What set UCSB apart from other school?
Some of the things that sold me on Santa Barbara was the beautiful weather, proximity to home, the connection I had with the guys on the team, and the positive vibe on campus.
I really like the balance between tennis and academics. I also have a great relationship with assistant coach Marc Vartbedian - I knew him well even before I took my visit to Santa Barbara. Plus I knew that in choosing Santa Barbara, I would be given an opportunity to play in the starting lineup "top 6" as a freshman.
What about the other coaches?
I am very respectful of my coaching staff. The head coach, Marty Davis has had lots of experience in coaching college tennis - and also playing on the pro level. I believe Coach Davis was ranked as high as No. 48 in the World. Having some of his insight should be very helpful to my game.
Also coach Vartebedian and I knew each other very well from the past through the tennis community. Marc attended UCSC, which is about 10 minutes from my house, so I got to know him fairly well.
Both the head and assistant coaches have seen me play before. So they have a good idea of my game style, and ways to improve certain things within my game.
What do you think of the UCSB tennis program?
I feel as if UCSB is an up-and-coming program. Our goal is to reach the sweet sixteen of the NCAA's in next year's tournament.
The coaches and team put a huge emphasis on fitness. Through their eyes, fitness is one of the most important traits in college tennis.
That whole "picture" really spoke to me, I want to be a part of a program that will have future success, and I am confident we can do so.
Did you get much time to meet your future teammates?
On my official Visit, I met all of the guys on the team. What stood out to me was the team chemistry they demonstrated. Even off the court, the guys were hanging out with each other, studying for tests or even going surfing on the beach. No other school I visited had the same chemistry as UCSB.
What advice do you have for other junior players going through the recruiting process?
To be honest, the college process is a very humbling one. Going to these top colleges is hyper-competitive. Since men's tennis only has 4.5 scholarships, "full rides" are almost unheard of. So it is very helpful to just be happy with what you get because of how little money is available.
My advice to future recruits is to take the SAT early so that you are can submit your scores during the summer of your junior year. And it doesn't matter what other people think - you should try to put yourself in the college that is the best fit for you.
Chloe Lee (Albuquerque, N.M.) to Rutgers
Four-star senior Chloe Lee is rated as the No. 1 recruit in New Mexico on the Babolat Recruiting List, and her high school results certainly back that position. Lee has won the 5A state singles title the past two years, and she will attempt to make history by going for a third title this spring. She posted victories in the USTA Winter, Clay Court, and Hard Court Championships this past year, and she is a regular representative of the USTA/Southwest section in team competition. Academically, Lee maintains a 4.0 unweighted GPA and is ranked No. 3 in her class at Albuquerque HS. Next fall, Lee will take her game and her brain across the country to New Brunswick, N.J. and the Rutgers tennis program.
Congratulations on your commitment to Rutgers. What was the process like for you, and what were some of the factors that went into your decision?
All of the schools I looked at had good academics, which was a big requirement for me. I want to play in a big conference against other top tennis schools. Rutgers is going to the Big 10 next year, and that is really exciting.
In addition to three unofficial visits from last spring, I took three official visits this fall, and all of the programs had great coaches. I got along really well with all of the girls. The coaches at Rutgers made me feel like I was a top priority for them - and that they really wanted me to choose their program.
Was Rutgers one of the schools where you took an official visit?
Yes. I took an official visit to Rutgers in early October, and I stayed in the dorms with one of the girls on the team. I went to two of the team practices and two of their gym workouts. Outside of tennis, I met with the academic advisor, and I went with the team to a women's soccer match. We had dinner at Coach Bucca's home one of the nights.
I was most impressed with how well everyone got along and how much fun they had together. The coaches and the girls all really like each other, and they seem really happy to be there.
You mention the coaching staff. What do you like about them? What kinds of communication have you had?
Both of the Rutgers coaches are awesome, and I really like their interaction with the team. I like how comfortable all of the girls are with them. The practices were both productive and intense - but the girls also had fun.
The coaches watched me play at two summer events. Communication with them has been so easy and open. I feel like what they have said to me the whole time is honest and sincere. I have felt important to them right from the beginning.
What do you like most about Rutgers and the tennis program?
I like just about everything! (Laughs) Rutgers is one of the top public schools in the country. It has a great engineering school and also offers a biotechnology degree - two majors I am considering. I love that it is close to New York City - but not too close. The campus is beautiful and the athletic facilities are all first class.
As for the tennis program, I am really excited about the school's move to the Big 10. It is going to be fun to play those schools with such great history and tradition. I also like how supportive the athletic department is of its athletes. They really want you to succeed both on the court and in the classroom.
Do you have goals or expectations for your freshman year?
My main goal is to make the top 6 line-up. It would be awesome to help the team get to at least the semis of the Big 10 tournament and play as a team in the NCAAs.
I am so excited for college tennis. The best times I have had playing tennis have been on teams and I can't wait to play for Rutgers for the next four years!