College Knowledge: Dartmouth Men’s Tennis
HANOVER, NH - For many prospective NCAA student-athletes, the recruiting process can be one of the most important and exciting times of their lives. Our new segment, “College Knowledge,” will give insight into what New England college coaches and programs are looking for in both a person and tennis player as well as some tips to make the recruiting process a little easier.
Our first feature is DI Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. The head men’s coach, Xander Centenari, and assistant men’s coach, Jeff Wilson, answer questions about their recruiting process.
When scouting junior players, first and foremost, what type of person are you looking for?
We look for a high level of character that embodies our values and ethics here at Dartmouth. How a young person treats others, makes eye contact, has a firm handshake, and communicates, both in tone and content, is important for us to realize. We often ask to learn more about their approach to player development, school, and how they plan to achieve these things. Their response gives us a good idea as to their level of preparation and how invested they are in aspiring to participate in a program that works with aspiring professionals who all have a player development mindset.
What are the most important on-court qualities and strengths you look for in a player?
As an indoor tennis program here in the northeast, we look for players who are aggressive, have weapons, and are interested in excelling in doubles. While not everyone is tall and long, they can all have clarity with their identity as a player. It is easy to see a young player with solid technique and fundamentals, but we also have to consider their physical growth and how this may impact how they will compete when they are 20 years old. We look for young players who are clear with their intentions, communicate their plan with ease, and have a good idea as to what they want to be as a student-athlete when they are 20 years old.
As a school that regularly recruits nationally and internationally, how important is it to have local representation as well?
We are always interested in recruiting local players from New England and are constantly looking at events in the region and talking with coaches of players that are from our section. USTA New England does a great job of tournament coverage and promotion, and this makes it easy for us to maintain an awareness of players who aspire to compete at an Ivy League level. We believe in having as many local players around the program as possible.
Who are the New England players on your current roster?
We currently have two New Englanders on our team in Peter Conklin and Andy Ilie. We inherited Peter, and he has been a stalwart performer for us in the classroom and on the court. In the locker room, he is a true leader and impacts our team in ways that are indescribable. The recruitment of Andy Ilie was one that the head coach and I spent a lot of time considering. We watched him compete, practice, met with him, and ultimately offered him a spot in the program. We are so thankful that each of these great, high-character, individuals represents Dartmouth, and we love having them around each and every day.
- Dartmouth Men's Head Coach, Xander Centenari
- Dartmouth Men's Assistant Coach, Jeff Wilson
What are some initial talking points you like to discuss with a prospective player once you've scouted him out?
We spend a lot of time making certain that we are aware of the academic and athletic goals that a prospective student-athlete may have. It is easy to look at results, rankings, ratings, and other metrics. What we really need to learn is what they are looking for in their life, as much as they may know at a young age. We like to learn about their family and their background as well as their community involvement.
What would you say to players who might be new to and a little intimidated by the recruiting process?
Prospective student-athletes should be excited for the process! This is one of the most important life decisions that they will make. They will have lifelong friends and relationships from their time in college and this decision is so important. They must understand that these things are not personal and that they will not receive a yes from every school that they are interested in attending. Hopefully, they put in the work to determine which schools are viable options for them as students and as tennis players. If they reach out to enough schools, then they can cultivate a list that is geared towards what they wish to study and is within their level of play. Ask questions, reach out to a lot of coaches, and visit a lot of different types of schools and environments.
Are there any common misconceptions you see with the college tennis recruiting process?
Common misconceptions can be that a program is too good for my level, or, I have not heard back from the coach so they must not be interested, or things of this nature. Persistence is a key factor for recruiting. Show how much you want to be there, as it will make a difference.
What do you do at Dartmouth to help players navigate the recruiting process and make them more comfortable?
Our hope is that the prospective student-athletes are being advised along the way during the recruitment process. Here at Dartmouth, we like to get these prospective student-athletes to visit our campus, watch practices, watch matches and participate in a weekend with our team. As a college town campus, we offer a very community-oriented experience, as the entire local region comes out to support things at Dartmouth. Our matches are heavily attended and the players on our team have relationships with these people through community engagement events as well as seeing these fans play themselves at our amazing facility on campus. Visiting campus is the ultimate way to get a feel, witness the spectacle, and connect to what our college life at Dartmouth is all about!
What makes Dartmouth Men’s Tennis such a special program?
Here at Dartmouth, our team culture is amazing. We are lucky to have student-athletes who are driven to be highly successful in the classroom, on the tennis court, in the weight room and in their internships. Dartmouth is a great college town and has networking opportunities for internships and jobs that are unmatched anywhere in the world. Dartmouth is very close to Boston and New York City, yet we operate in an intimate and community-based setting in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the upper valley of New Hampshire. Dartmouth provides one of the best educational experiences with one of the best athletic experiences in an amazing postcard-like setting.
What do you know at this point about your upcoming season?
This upcoming season is a difficult one to explain, as in the Ivy League, all sports are off until March. We are uncertain as to the upcoming season due to this, but we are hopeful and fully prepared to practice, train, and compete as a top 30 nationally ranked team that we currently are.
If you have an interest in Dartmouth College or would like to follow up with Xander or Jeff, they can be reached below:
Xander Centenari (Head Men’s Coach) - email@example.com
Jeff Wilson (Assistant Men’s Coach) - Jeffrey.S.Wilson@dartmouth.edu