Different from other Queens College teams, the women’s tennis squad is off to what has become a typical start for them: they’re ranked No. 1 in Division II East, 26th in the nation and have a 7-0 conference record.
A large degree of the team’s success, and what also sets them apart from some of the school’s other teams, has to do with stellar recruiting from all over the world.
Head women’s tennis coach Alan Nagel believes that QC has many “selling points” that help with the recruiting process.
“Queens is the best of three great schools in New York City,” said Nagel. “We are the only one of the three that awards athletic scholarships.”
The players on the 2012 tennis roster are from a plethora of locations including Arkansas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Russia.
“I knew I wanted to be a media studies major,” said senior Daniela Celi from Orlando, Florida. “What better place to be than in New York City?”
Celi could have chose any of the hundreds of schools in the NYC area, but decided on QC because she fell in love with the campus, location and team. Plus, Nagel can be pretty convincing.
Nagel looks for his players though recruiting websites and, because of QC’s impressive rankings and records, some agencies and players even contact him.
“I send out a lot of letters and do my research through the USTA [United States Tennis Association],” said Nagel.
Once a player is ranked through the USTA, their contact information, tournament results and other vital recruiting information is available to coaches. After doing his research, Nagel reaches out to certain players and invites them to Queens for a visit.
“If someone is interested in playing for me and wants to visit, I will not pay for their flight. Some players will take advantage of the free airfare (offered by other teams) and use it to visit other schools in the area,” Nagel said. “If the recruit is serious about coming to QC, she will pay for her own flight.”
During a recruit’s visit, Nagel will give the athlete a tour of the campus and athletic facilities. There are very few schools that have indoor tennis courts, and now that the tennis “bubble” is back-in-action, tennis players are more likely to be interested in QC.
The bubble, besides providing indoor practice space, creates job opportunities for the QC tennis teams. Many winter clinics, private lessons and space rentals are held there. Although the center was out-of-order for the past two years, it did not affect recruiting, said Nagel.
Two major “selling points” are the low tuition and location of QC, according to Nagel.
“A small athletic scholarship goes a long way at Queens,” he said. “Plus, our location is prime. Kids get scholarships to DI schools in the middle of nowhere. Queens College is located in the greatest city in the world and is minutes away from things like the U.S. Open.”
Considering the skill level and talent of the athletes on the roster of the women’s tennis team, not just anyone is recruited to play.
“You have to be a DI player to play on my team,” said Nagel. “If you can’t handle DI competitiveness, you can’t play for me.”
Perhaps the most important “test” a recruit must pass is team bonding.
“I don’t care if the recruit is the best player in the world,” said Nagel, “if the team doesn’t like her, she’s not coming. My team is a family. You don’t want to break a family up.”
Although recruiting strategy is an important aspect to the team’s success, team chemistry can be a key to greatness.
“Besides the fact that we all live together, we all understand each other and are always there for each other on and off the court,” said Celi. “I think that’s an essential part of having a strong team. Trust and friendship goes a long way and I think that creates the foundation for our success.”