Spring Signing Week '14: National Recruiting Roundup
by Dallas Oliver, 15 April 2014
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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 since the beginning of the academic year (boys, girls), and throughout the remainder of the week, we will be featuring commitment announcements and comments from a variety of boys and girls.
Today, we hear comments from diverse tennis players across the country in our National Roundup. We talked with several recruits who have made their college selection. We asked them about their college choices - and how they reached their decisions.
Here is a whirlwind tour around the country to review these verbal commitments. Check out what they have to say...
Take a look at what they had to say...
Alyssa Tobita (Mililani, Hawaii) to Oregon
Five-star senior Alyssa Tobita has posted eye-popping achievements during her high school career in Hawaii. She is a regular in the finals of sectional events, and she is will go for her fourth straight Hawaii State High School Association tennis state championship in May. May will be a big month for Tobita - she will graduate from Mililani High School as one of its valedictorians. And this fall, she will fly across the ocean to Eugene, Oregon, where she will play college tennis for the Oregon Ducks.
What schools were you considering during the decision process? What factors were most important to you in fainalizing your decision?
I considered mostly West Coast colleges: Oregon, Santa Clara, Arizona, Hawaii, Irvine, Loyola Marymount - places with moderate weather. I also considered the University of Colorado at Boulder and Denver because I thought Colorado was such a beautiful place when I played in several tennis tournaments there.
When I went for my official visit [to Oregon], the school just felt right to me. I love the city, the facilities, the people, and most importantly the coaches and team members. I believe I can thrive and grow as a person at the University of Oregon.
Was your visit an official or unofficial one? What most impressed you?
It was an official visit. I spent a lot of time getting to know the players and coaches while they took me around the campus. I also got the chance to watch the women's volleyball team play a game. The athletic facilities were so fantastic and high tech. It made me feel like I would be in good hands as an athlete there. I also loved how the city of Eugene is supportive of the university by showing a lot of spirit.
What do you like most about the coaches?
From the first time I met Coach Paul and Coach Maja, I felt at ease and comfortable with them. During my visit I saw that they were very supportive, positive, and respected by the team. They pushed their players but were still open to joke around and have fun at the same time.
Did you get the chance to spend much time with your future teammates?
I had so much fun with the players on the team. They were so friendly and made me feel at home even though I had just met them. I also really like their intensity at practice - it allows a competitive but healthy atmosphere.
Edward Ang (Cupertino, Calif.) to Carnegie Mellon
Four-star senior Edward Ang has made great strides in his game over the past few years. "During my junior year, I played some of my best tennis," said Ang. "In January 2013, I got to the finals of an 18s regional in Las Vegas, and in May 2013, I reached the semifinals of a Level 2 18s national in Midland, Texas - beating many great players." Ang's ranking on the Athletic DNA Recruiting List reflects those accomplishments, as he climbed into the Top 100 with a career-high ranking of No. 83 nationally. Next fall, the 6'0" Ang will move cross-country to Pittsburgh, Pa., to play tennis for Carnegie Mellon.
Congratulations on your commitment to CMU. What were you looking for during the decision process, and how did Carnegie Mellon stack up?
The primary factors in my decision were academics and a solid tennis program where I can continue to develop my game but at the same time be an impact player. During my junior year, I was deciding whether to play D-I or D-III tennis, and I ended up choosing D-III.
I pretty much liked all aspects of Carnegie Mellon. I liked the atmosphere the school provides - which is a very studious but rewarding environment. Everyone at the school works hard on and off the court. Everyone is there for each other and is willing to help others.
With regard to the tennis program, I like Carnegie Mellon because it is a D-III school but with the tennis atmosphere and competitive feel of a lot of D-I schools. The program has the perfect balance of academics and tennis for me. Also, I like the team's optimistic spirit. The team is on an upward trend, and I want to be part of a developing program.
You obviously visited the school. Was it an official or unofficial visit?
I took an official visit to Carnegie Mellon. I met up with the coaches and watched the team practice. I got to meet the whole team, and they toured me around the school. In the evening I talked with some of the freshmen living in the dorm.
What most impressed me about the school was the supportive atmosphere and how friendly people were. The vibe I felt walking around the campus felt right, and I knew that was where I wanted to be for the next four years.
You mention the coaching staff. What were they like?
I like that Coach Belmonte and Coach Girard are very friendly, supportive, and they care a lot about their student athletes. During my visit, they made sure that I had everything I needed and made me feel comfortable. They are also very passionate about developing their players.
And it seems like you enjoyed the time you spent with your future teammates.
Yes. They were all really friendly and they embraced me as if I was already on the team. They took me to multiple places on campus to eat while telling me honestly what the school is like.
The thing I like most about the team is how close they are with each other. I feel that it is necessary for teammates to have tight bonds with each other in order to do well and make the most out of college tennis.
Kelsey Grambeau (Dallas, Texas) to Wisconsin
They do things big in Texas, and 4-Star senior Kelsey Grambeau is used to the big stage. Grambeau, who trains at the Academy of Tennis at Brookhaven, has been a fixture in the singles and doubles finals of USTA Regionals for the past couple of years. She won the Texas Sectionals doubles championship last year - along with two national doubles titles. Grambeau knew she wanted to attend a big-time college and play in a big-time conference. She will accomplish all that next fall at Wisconsin.
What set Wisconsin apart from other schools and programs?
I knew that I wanted a big school in a big conference for better competition. I was looking for great coaches that were concerned about developing my game and a group of girls I thought I would relate well to. The school also had to be one with excellent academics.
After looking closely at Wisconsin, I thought it satisfied my criteria and fit me like a glove. It has a tremendous academic reputation, is in the B1G Ten, and I absolutely love the coaches. I really felt like I connected with them on my visit, and we got along really well. [Coaches] Tina [Samara] and Matt [Manasse] make a great combination, and I believe they can take me and the program to the next level.
Did you take an official or unofficial visit? If so, can you describe it briefly? What most impressed you?
I took an official, and it was my last one. I had not yet found the right fit but after Wisconsin I could check off all the boxes on my list.
The one thing that impressed me most were the people. Everyone on that visit was very friendly and seemed so down to earth and real. Their practices also impressed me a lot. They were extremely intense and the girls worked very hard, but at the same time, they were having fun.
You mention your future teammates. What most impressed you about them?
I met all of the girls on the team. They're awesome. They're all so dedicated to working hard and improving. They want to be on the courts and in the gym; you can see their commitment to making the team better each day.
Any other thoughts you would like to share?
I love the team atmosphere and the rowdiness of college tennis. It is very intense, and I am excited to soon be a part of it.
I think that my coach Dave Anderson is a huge part of why I am where I am today. He has helped me in so many ways - both on and off the court. He has taught me a ton about the tactical and technical components of tennis - and how the game can teach you so many life lessons.
Caleb Troy (Pittsburgh, Penn.) to Richmond
Entering his freshman year of high school, Caleb Troy was ranked outside the Top 600 in his class, and he knew playing high level college tennis would be a challenge. But during his freshman year he started working harder, and with the help of great coaches and trainers, Troy has taken his game to the next level - cracking the Top 100 nationally in the USTA 18s and earning a 4-Star rating. Next year, he will be taking his game south to play college tennis for the Richmond Spiders.
What were the primary factors that went into your college decision process?
The most important thing for me in my decision was finding a school where I could excel as a student - setting myself up for my future while making an impact as an athlete and member of the school and community right away.
Another important factor for me was how I felt I got along with the guys on the team as well as the coach. Knowing that I would be spending a lot of time with them throughout my four years of college made me pay attention to the chemistry I saw - and how I fit in.
What set Richmond apart from the others?
What I love most about the University of Richmond is its ability to give me the full experience. I cannot wait to be challenged in the classroom, meet new people in the community, and represent the school as an athlete in practice and in matches. It also has one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever been to, so that's a bonus!
My favorite part of the tennis program at Richmond is being a part of a young team. Six of the eight guys on the team will be sophomores next fall when I join them, so we will have a few good years together to push each other and reach our potential as a team.
You mentioned the coaches as being a factor. What interactions did you have with them?
I like Coach Johnson and who he is as a person. Since the day I first interacted with with him, he has come across as a down-to-earth and honest person. He has a passion for what he does and is very motivated to bring his current group of guys to their full potential. I am excited to be a part of that environment this fall.
I had many phone conversations with Coach Johnson before meeting him on my official visit. It was great to watch him interact with the guys on the team in practice as well as off court.
Do you have goals or expectations for your freshman year?
I definitely do have goals for my freshman year. I want to contribute as much to the team and the school as I can. I want to start in the line up in singles my freshman year, and I am ready to work hard to make that happen. I also want to be as active in the Richmond community as possible, so I am looking forward to that.
What advice do you have for others going through the recruiting process?
Establish early contact with any school you might be interested in - even if the interest is slight. Having options is huge, and that is an area where I probably could have done a better job. Also don't worry about committing early - and don't be pressured in to making a commitment by any coach.
Luckily everything worked out for me and I ended up where I want to be, but for a while there I wasn't sure. So keep your options open - and wait until you know for sure before you make that commitment!