When in the midst of recruiting, the SIU men’s tennis team looks at candidates from overseas as well as those only states away.
“In order for us to compete in our league, we need to broaden our recruiting scope, and so we do that nationally and internationally,” said men’s tennis coach Dann Nelson.
Students from seven countries and two states other than Illinois are on the team, and Nelson said he credits it to his extensive recruiting territory.
He said the key factor he looks for in recruits is whether they’re ranked in high school or internationally. If the candidate is currently playing in a conference, Nelson said he examines placement and performance against other ranked players.
“Really we want to get the best players we can here,” Nelson said. “If they’re from Russia that’s fine, if they’re from Illinois that’s fine; we want the best possible team we can have.”
Sophomore Jorge Cavero said he was on his way to a professional tennis career when he went into a slump and lost several tournaments. He said he then decided to consider college as an alternative.
Cavero, a native of South America, said one of his previous coaches was a former teammate of Nelson’s and got him in touch with the coach. He said it was then SIU became an option, and he transferred to Carbondale in spring 2011.
Nelson said networking is just one example of how to contact international recruits.
Graduate Assistant Hugo Vidal, a native of France, played a major role in recruiting two of SIU’s players. Senior Stanislas Rodier and junior Badr Cherradi played at the same junior college as Vidal in Texas, and it was Vidal who recommended they play in Carbondale.
“The junior colleges that we recruit are the highest caliber junior colleges there are in terms of tennis,” Nelson said.
Nelson said it also helped that the junior college was well-known for its tennis program. He said the institution was led under a coach who had swept 24 national championships during his 25 years, a few of which Vidal and Rodier were a part of.
Sometimes, though, it’s not the coach who seeks out the athletes, but the athlete who seeks out the program. Junior Jordan Snyder said he emailed Nelson when he considered universities because of the tennis program and SIU’s location.
“I was pretty familiar with SIU because I’m from St. Louis and I lived here from kindergarten to third grade,” Snyder said.
Freshman Martijn Admiraal said he also sought out tennis programs through email. He said he was playing tennis in Holland when he researched college websites and came across SIU’s.
“I got a good offer from the coach and after I did a little research everything was good,” Admiraal said.
It’s not all tennis that brings athletes to SIU. Cherradi said the university’s business school and diverse student body was a great selling point.
“I really wanted to meet different people, people from everywhere,” Cherradi said. “That’s why we come to the U.S. To learn more about American people, but also to learn about other cultures.”