New England

Juniors Enjoy College Recruiting Process Amid Pandemic

James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | April 27, 2020

WESTBOROUGH, MA- For many high school-aged athletes who plan on competing at the next level, college recruiting is one of the most unique and critical times of their lives. From the excitement of interacting with college coaches to the overnight campus visits, the recruiting process is something student-athletes relish and only experience once. 


But in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the traditional recruiting process, like mostly everything else we’re dealing with, has been altered. 


New England juniors are experiencing that shift first hand, with some struggling to adapt, and others utilizing their available resources the best they can. 


We caught up with three New England junior players, all in the different stages of their recruiting processes and all of whom have made the most of the hands they’ve been dealt, to learn more about their experiences amid the pandemic. 

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Kailas Kahler, Class of 2020


Kailas Kahler, of Pawtucket, RI, is a senior at the Moses Brown School in Providence. He is the No. 6 ranked junior in the New England Boys’ 18s and has narrowed his college search down to two schools- MIT and Caltech. He expects to make his decision by May 1. 


What have you been doing to stay busy during the quarantine?


I’m an avid gamer and I’ve been very busy with my schoolwork. I’m staying in shape by doing calisthenics workouts, and given I can do a lot of things that don’t require being outside, the situation is not horrible. 


What is it about MIT and Caltech that excite you most?

Both schools are great fits academically. I plan on majoring in computer science and these programs are top notch. Both have a unique way of doing academics, where people work together to solve hard problems in the classroom. I’ll be super excited regardless of where I end up. 


Has the virus affected the recruiting process for you in any way?


Yes. I’d gone to see both schools before for different reasons, but I was scheduled to have my official visit to MIT in early April and that couldn’t happen. So it’s been lots of phone calls, talking with people who currently play on the team, other recruits and coaches. I’m looking around to find any info that I can. It’s more difficult to figure certain things out about campus life like sleeping, eating and classes, unless you stay overnight. Without that visit, you can’t really experience that, and it makes your decision less absolute. 


What’s the most important thing you’ve taken away from the recruiting process?


I learned that it’s important to know what matters to you most, whether it be less specific like tennis vs. academics, or specifically knowing you want a tennis program that's' always outdoors. Knowing what you want is huge, and in some cases will really help you make your decision. There’s definitely a lot of pressure involved and the process can be difficult at times, but all the coaches I’ve met are great and really helpful. Some people tend to be scared of college coaches, and to those people I’d say, they’re going to want you and be there for you and have your best interest in mind.


Ellie Schulson, Class of 2020


Ellie Schulson, of Newburyport, MA, is a junior at Newburyport High. She is the No. 2 junior in the New England Girls’ 18s rankings and is in the middle of her recruiting process. Schulson says she values a family-like atmosphere in a college program at a school where academics are valued as much or more than athletics. She has narrowed down her list of schools to “a handful” and is in no rush to make her final decision. 


Where are you at in your recruiting process?


The process started last summer for me. Many coaches have watched me play already and I’ve built relationships with them, and those haven’t changed through all this. They’ve been very accessible, especially recently. They’ve been honest about the situation and been willing to give their opinion on things. The pressure is on the coaches as well, so it’s nice to know there are two sides to this. I’ve had some visits canceled so far, but I’ve had great communication and have talked about future steps and what they know at this point. 


What have you learned so far from the recruiting process?


It’s been a positive experience. It’s fun to meet coaches, see what it’s like to be a college player and experience the day to day. This is a big part of people’s life experience, so it’s fun to see things I’ve learned about myself, like what I may want to study, what locations I like and don’t like and different personalities I’ve encountered. 


What have you been doing to stay busy during the quarantine?


It’s been schoolwork, training (outside when I can) and doing agility drills. I’ve also been going out and finding open public courts with my sister, most of which are in bad shape, and that’s forced us to work on elements of our game that we don’t usually emphasize, like volleys, or serve and return. Through this, I’ve also gained a new perspective on issues outside of tennis. My parents always tell me to play like it’s the last time you’re ever going to play, and it’s given me greater appreciation of things I did before. I’m spending more family time and building myself as a person. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back with coaches and friends though in an academy setting. I’ve been mostly by myself, and I enjoy playing and training with others who motivate me. That’s what I’m looking forward to most. 


Sam Svendsen, Class of 2021


Sam Svendsen, of Ridgefield, CT, is a junior at Ridgefield High. She’s currently the ninth ranked player in the New England Girls’ 18s division. Sam is ideally seeking out a larger school but is keeping her options open. She hopes to make her decision by November.  


What have you been doing to keep in shape?


It’s frustrating not being able to practice with coaches or play tournaments, but I’ve been hitting with my mom, working out at home and occasionally going to the track to work out. 


What has the college recruiting process been like for you so far?


It’s been exciting and I’m embracing every part of it. It started last summer for me, and since then, I’ve been constantly learning. I’ve visited schools, had phone calls, and it gives me a good perspective on what I want in a team. Some have similar goals, but the way they run things are different mostly, which is good for me to hear, so I can cancel some schools out. 


What have you taken away from the process so far?


I’ve learned a lot so far, improved with every phone call, and know now more than ever what I’m looking for. I know what type of coach I connect well with and what type of program I’m looking for. I want a program I can connect with well, one with a great team dynamic and one that shares the same goal I have of winning a conference championship.  


How has the virus affected your recruiting process?


I’ve been training really hard and getting ready for events, but many have been canceled. I had an L4 in Boston in March, an L3 in April in Virginia and an L2 in May in Michigan, all where I was scheduled to meet and talk with local coaches. But I’m still working on my game, so when I’m able to play again, I can come back stronger. I definitely have goals for tournaments and rankings, so I’m hoping events in the summer are still on. It does help and makes me feel a little better that I’m not alone and it’s not just me being impacted.


If you’d like more info on college recruiting in tennis, USTA New England will be presenting the upcoming webinar, The State of College Recruiting, with Tim Donovan on May 7, as part of New England’s Pro and Junior Power Series

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