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Q&A: College coaches on the recruiting pathway for 2021, 2022 classes

September 22, 2020

With the recruiting landscape constantly changing, the USTA reached out to some influential college coaches to get their take on the current climate of our sport and the pathway to the collegiate system. In this edition, Jackson State’s Gabrielle Moore, Pepperdine’s Adam Schaechterle, St. Leo’s Chad Berryhill (pictured above, right) and Springfield’s Mike Louis all lend their thoughts on recruiting.


For more, read the USTA’s previous Q&As with college coaches (Part I, Part II), and visit our college recruiting information page and college tennis homepage


Q: What is the biggest piece of advice you are telling recruits right now?


Gabrielle Moore, Jackson State Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“Stay positive, this too shall pass. I know it may sound a little cliché right now, but this is one of the biggest pieces of advice I have had to talk about with all of my recruits. We have to be realistic about what all can really be done in a pandemic right now. Learn to adapt, and stay consistent within the process. No question is a wrong question. The more you ask and the more research you do will help you so much more during this time.”


Adam Schaechterle, Pepperdine Men’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“We are encouraging recruits in the 2022 class to focus on development and to take their time building relationships with coaches. The pandemic will impact rosters and scholarship allotments for several years. Our consistent advice to recruits is to focus on the best long-term fit and not just the best current offer, but we feel it’s even more important in this recruiting environment.”


Chad Berryhill, St. Leo Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division II)

“The best advice is to stay patient. I know in Division II a lot of programs are going with budget cuts and scholarship reductions. Coaches may still be figuring out their own situations based both on roster management numbers, seniors utilizing their ‘extra year,’ and/or a reduction in athletic aid. These are unprecedented times and each program has its own challenges.” 


Mike Louis, Springfield College Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division III)

“Be better in how you communicate with the schools and coaches you are interested in. Be clear and honest with your timelines (even if you’re not sure) and ask questions you have throughout the recruiting process. Don’t shy away from taking the initiative to schedule times to connect with the coach(es), whether it’s the initial conversation or to provide updates.”

Q: What should juniors do differently to stand out for college coaches, and how important is it moving forward for them to send their recruiting videos?


Gabrielle Moore, Jackson State Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I) - pictured above

“Staying consistent is very important right now. Not only for the juniors, but for me as a coach as well. Never be afraid to reach out to a coach more than once. You’d be amazed at how many emails and messages we get in a day. A follow-up never hurts. As far as recruiting videos, I think it’s extremely important in a time like this where the dead period continues to be pushed along. We can’t go out and physically recruit players right now, so recruiting videos are of vital importance.”


Adam Schaechterle, Pepperdine Men’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“We love to see juniors get creative on how to find competition, and there is an opportunity right now for recruits to separate themselves with some hustle. Are they complaining that their schedule was ruined by tournament cancellations, or finding a way to compete? Video is important, but too many recruits focus on the production level instead of just filming a set of competitive play. Even an iPhone video of a competitive set can give coaches a great sense for a prospect’s level and on-court makeup.”


Chad Berryhill, St. Leo Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division II)

“I don’t think they necessarily have to do anything differently except for maybe having a larger pool of schools to look into. It can be expected that there are more players looking for a roster spot than there may be roster positions available. I am still a coach that appreciates seeing a video as I like to assess someone’s skills; however, results speak for themselves. Finding ways to compete and get results is what coaches will be looking for.”


Mike Louis, Springfield College Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division III)

“With the limited tournament opportunities, it’s important to get match experience whenever you can. If you are able to get those matches on video, this not only helps your development through video analysis, but it assists greatly with the recruiting process for the coaches. Coaches want to see you in match play, and if you have up-to-date match videos, those can serve as one substitute to tournament results.”  

Q: What should juniors and parents be asking coaches right now, especially given the changes by the NCAA regarding eligibility and even changes by some schools regarding ACT/SAT requirements?


Gabrielle Moore, Jackson State Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“First, what precautions the university is taking in this matter of a pandemic. I would ask about scores and GPA requirements that are needed to be admitted in these times. NCAA eligibility requirements are changing and there is no 100% right answer in a time like this. I think the biggest thing is to keep an open line of communication with every update we may receive. With our season being cut short, I believe coaches are recruiting twice as much as they would be at this time of year, so being realistic about what you’re looking for in a program and a university is key to making sure the school is a right fit for you.”


Adam Schaechterle, Pepperdine Men’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I) - pictured above, right

“Juniors and parents should ask how coaches are handling the extra year of eligibility, so they can understand the roster in future years. Sadly, it’s important for juniors to also ask about the school’s commitment to tennis. We’ve seen an unprecedented pressure on non-revenue sports, and juniors should have their eyes open to how a school values the tennis program before making a commitment.”


Chad Berryhill, St. Leo Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division II)

“I think parents and players should do their research on schools and definitely ask if a SAT or ACT is required. This may not be something needed since the NCAA is not requiring if for eligibility for 2021 graduates. I think the key is still asking coaches how many roster sports they anticipate having and what they are looking for in terms of results, rankings, UTR, etc.”


Mike Louis, Springfield College Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division III)

“Juniors and parents should be asking coaches about the specific requirements their institution has for general admission and/or for a specific academic major or program. The common trend institutions are adopting is ‘test optional,’ however certain programs may still require SAT/ACT test scores, as well as other requirements. For example, Springfield College is test optional; however, certain programs like physical therapy and occupational therapy still require SAT/ACT test scores and other requirements. If the coach cannot answer the questions you have, they should be able to direct you to the person who can.”

Q: How much are you, and the coaching community, looking at player rankings and ratings right now given the amount of cancellations in junior tournaments?


Gabrielle Moore, Jackson State Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“I’m still utilizing rankings and ratings right now. Results are results, whether it was before the pandemic or now. My main concern is the safety of our kids. Most schools I’m sure are done recruiting for the 2020-21 season, but in a time like this videos are a necessity. I would focus on a lot of point-play videos or virtual matches for players to send to coaches.”


Adam Schaechterle, Pepperdine Men’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“We are following results on a daily basis. I’m proud of how collaborative the tennis community has become in regards to creating events. It’s incredible to see so many open and prize-money events across the country. Many of our top recruits have played as many matches in previous years, even with so many regular events cancelled. That’s been a highlight in a really difficult stretch for tennis—to see the collaboration and creativity in providing tournament competition.”


Chad Berryhill, St. Leo Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division II)

“The honest truth is that it is still important to see rankings and ratings. I need to have a certain level player for me team, so someone would have to show past results that meet our criteria, and other programs are the same way. A junior player wouldn’t be able to convince a coach that, ‘I was a 10 UTR before the pandemic, but now I am playing a UTR 12 level,’ unless the results show that. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. The coaching community realizes that competition is much tougher to come by right now; however, results are results. You have to find a way to prove to a coach that you can play at a certain level and the best way to do that is by finding opportunities to play. Every situation is different and challenges that a junior has in competing should be communicated to the coach, as each location through the U.S. and throughout the world is different.”


Mike Louis, Springfield College Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division III) - pictured above

“As a coach, you are trying to get a full picture of the recruit by using all data, past and present, in order to get an idea where they fit with your program needs. I would say these numbers or data points are just a small portion of the recruiting process. We want the best people that fit our program’s core values the best. It’s important to use the recruiting process to get the full picture.”


Q: What would you tell recruits who don’t like playing lower-rated players or the consolation draws?


Gabrielle Moore, Jackson State Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division I)

“I believe that playing lower-rated players shows how truly good a player is, and in reality, makes you better. When you are playing kids who are at the same level or better than you, there’s little to no pressure. It’s important to see how you handle yourself in the tougher situations, which tend to be with the lower-rated players. Same goes for consolation draws. How do you adapt? How is your character? How do you handle pressure? These are things that are most important to me when it comes to collegiate tennis. Players are so adapted to the individual aspect of the sport that they don’t realize how much of a team player you need to be at the collegiate level. It’s no longer only about you.”


Chad Berryhill, St. Leo Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division II)

“I tell recruits that if everyone had this attitude then no one would be able to improve. Playing in tournaments is a financial commitment, a time commitment and a sacrifice. It should be treated as such and I believe that if you sign up for a tournament, you finish the tournament. If you truly are the better player then you should be able to prove it on the court. Get the experience. Keep working on your craft. How would you feel if you had the opportunity to play a better player and then they defaulted because you were a lower level. I think you would feel disrespected. Always remember, your game will get you the UTR you want, but the UTR will not get you the game you want. That comes from hard work and experience.”


Mike Louis, Springfield College Men’s & Women’s Head Coach (NCAA Division III)

“Every match is an opportunity to get better. It’s very difficult to replicate the emotions and pressures you’ll face in tournament matches to practice matches. If you are healthy, then regardless of the opponent or your status in the tournament, you should want to compete.”


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