New England

College Knowledge: Wheaton College

James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | June 04, 2021

NORTON, MA - Wheaton College Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Alex Wong is a New Englander through and through. Originally from Newton, MA, Wong played his collegiate tennis at Wesleyan University and has coached locally since graduating in 2003. He spent 10 years as the Head Men’s & Women’s Coach at Bentley University and then served as the Head Coach at Vassar College (NY) and Assistant at Brown University before landing at Wheaton, where he has been for the past two seasons. 


Wong lives and breathes New England tennis, and as a result, more than half of his current roster consists of former New England juniors. He shares some of his recruiting tips and what juniors can expect when being recruited by Wheaton. 


What type of athlete and person are you looking to bring to Wheaton?

We look to bring team-oriented players who are hard working and will help with our team dynamic. We want players who are eager to work hard and improve, players who will work hard to contribute to the team in whatever way possible. We also work to develop leaders on and off the court, so players who will contribute leadership and are looking to help the Wheaton community is also important. 


As a coach, what are your main focuses with each individual student-athlete once they arrive on campus?

Once players arrive on campus, I want to make sure that each student-athlete first gets integrated to the team and to the Wheaton community. From there, I want them to start thriving on the court and in the classroom so we will continue to check in throughout the first semester to make sure that the transition goes smoothly. I also will want to get to know each student-athlete on an individual basis so I can better help them. Our relationship is an important one and one that I work to develop even before a student-athlete gets on campus. 


The majority of your men's & women's rosters are made up of England juniors. Talk about the importance of recruiting locally.

It is very important to continue to recruit locally as it is a great community of tennis players. I think that local players know how great a place Wheaton is, so recruiting from a group of student-athletes who already know about the school and community is helpful to us. We will continue to form relationships with high schools, tennis clubs and academies in the New England area to join our teams. 


What advice would you give to a New England starting the recruiting process at Wheaton? 

We want student-athletes who are a good fit for Wheaton, so I would first suggest that you get to know the school and the team well. We want it to be a fit in all ways because that is going to allow for you to be most successful in all facets of your college experience. I think secondly, just continuing to keep good communication with the coaching staff through the process and utilizing the application pools. We have all different application pools, from early decision to regular decision, so it is good to know your options. And lastly, reach out with any questions. As I first said, we want it to be a fit so we want to get you as much information as possible so you feel enthusiastic about choosing Wheaton! 


What can a New England junior expect from you and your staff during the recruiting process?

A prospective student-athlete can expect for us to be here to help in any way possible. We will work to set up visits, phone calls and meetings with professors, meetings with admissions and financial aid, whatever you need to feel comfortable about making a decision about Wheaton. 

Which current New England players did you recruit to Wheaton?

On the men's team we have Chris Register from Portland, ME, who just finished his sophomore year. We also have Eli Hanlon from Branford, CT, who finished his freshman year. 


On the women's team, we have two players that just finished their first years. We have Maggie Yang from Pepperell, MA and Mareike Mueller from Amesbury, MA.


All have been great additions to the team and have already contributed. We are looking forward to seeing what they will do in their remaining years! We also have one incoming first-year in Karl von Weissenbeck, from Winchester, MA. We are excited to see what he will add to the team. 

What was your experience like working with them through the recruiting process, especially with the challenges of COVID?

COVID has been extremely challenging especially with restrictions on travel and visits to campus. We have adapted some of our practices to include virtual tours and virtual calls. Those have been great as it gives us an opportunity to "see" the recruits but things such as being able to see inside buildings, watch the team practice, hanging out with teammates have made it challenging for the recruits to know how it exactly is to be a Wheaton student-athlete. Things such as the warm and inviting Wheaton community atmosphere and the team camaraderie during practices and matches are hard to experience via Zoom, but we try to give each recruit as good a picture as possible, as Wheaton really is an amazing place. 


How frustrating has it been for you, in your two years at Wheaton, to not have played a full season?

It has been extremely frustrating. I feel for the student-athletes who have had seasons and careers cut short. Playing was such a highlight of my college experience and I know how invested each student-athlete is to the program. To the credit of our student-athletes, they have handled the situation with such class. They just continue to work hard, stay focused, and embrace the challenges that come about. I am so proud of how our players have handled the situation with COVID. 


How will this summer look for you now that the pandemic is hopefully nearing its end?

I am not exactly sure. I am hoping that recruiting will be closer to normal this summer and that we can begin to attend live showcases and get to meet with student-athletes in person. The intention is to go to showcases this summer, so hopefully everything continues to improve and we will be able to attend these events. 


How excited are you for next year to hopefully get a full season under your belt with few or no restrictions?

I’m very excited. One thing that we found difficult was preparing with limited real-match experiences. We are looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of preparing for matches and having a focus towards matches with our preparation. Even with our limited competitions this past year, we gained valuable experience, so with more competitions, I feel that we will get even stronger. It is always a good gauge of your own progress. We are also looking forward to getting back to no masks and to spectators being allowed to watch the matches. It is always good to have fans supporting the game of tennis, so we hope to see people back in the stands next year! 


To learn more about Wheaton College Tennis, click below: 

Women’s homepage

Men’s homepage

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