New England

College Knowledge: The University of Rhode Island

James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | January 31, 2021

KINGSTON, RI - 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 February feature is The University of Rhode Island. The women’s head coach, Val Villucci, answers questions about her recruiting process.


What are your initial talking points when meeting a prospective recruit for the first time?


I always ask each recruit what they are looking for in a program and what they would like to accomplish. I like to know their goals and what they feel has been their biggest accomplishment so far. I like to know what motivates them.


When scouting junior players, what personal qualities are you looking for?


Some of the characteristics I look for is the ability for them to communicate. I like to get to know them so I don’t just fire questions at them. It’s important for me to know who they are, what their interests are academically and if they have any siblings. It’s not just about tennis. I also like to know how their friends would describe them if they were asked. 


Is there a specific type of player you typically look to recruit? 


I certainly don’t have a specific type of player that I look for. I like to look at their strengths and how their game might be built around their strengths, but I also want to know their weaknesses to give them the ability to improve on them. I always look for one thing that can become their weapon. 

How has COVID-19 affected your recruiting?


COVID-19 obviously has stopped us from getting on the road to recruit, so it has prevented face-to-face contact. It just means more video calls at this point in time. I have encouraged interested recruits to reach out to any of our athletes and ask lots of questions. I also ask them to get to know each other so they have a good sense of what we are all about.


What has been the most difficult part?


It is important to be able to see the whole picture of an athlete. Without being able to attend tournaments, showcases, meet their families and interact with them in person, doesn’t always give me the complete picture of who I am recruiting.   


What advice would you give junior players who might be new to the recruiting process?


The most important factors to being a part of our team are learning how to communicate effectively and being a good listener. An athlete needs to be open minded in order to grow both on and off the court. Without that, they will never improve upon where they currently are.


What has your experience with New Englander, Gracie Campanella, been like thus far?


I met and watched Gracie play at the Donovan showcase and was very impressed with her solid play. She demonstrated great tactics and I was impressed with the variety in her game. She has so far transitioned effortlessly to college and has shown to be a supportive teammate. I look forward to watching her game grow.


Why would you recommend URI to a prospective recruit?


The University of Rhode Island has much to offer. Many of the majors at the university open the doors to successful careers right out of college. The campus has so many resources and gives students the opportunity to be involved in a number of groups and activities. The location makes it easy for us to be able to travel to other schools without spending long hours on the road.  

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