The second annual John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA) College Recruiting Combine was held at Sportime Randall’s Island, as prospects and college coaches from across the country came together for a weekend-long showcase.
The event eases the process for both the players and coaches to find the right fits and is one of the most detail-oriented and innovative college showcases in the whole country.
It included a coaches’ panel where players can learn the ins and outs of a tennis program but also gain knowledge on the recruiting process, the college search and what certain coaches are looking for in a player.
“A huge highlight of this event is the coaches’ panel,” said Jay Harris, the Sportime/JMTA College Recruiting Combine Director. “We have some of the most knowledgeable and experienced coaches here, and they really provide the players with some great education to take home with them.”
The combine was open to players entering their sophomore, junior or senior years of high school, and they compete in both singles and doubles matches across the courts of the Sportime Randall’s Island facility, both outside and inside and on hard courts and clay courts, as coaches could see players in a variety of different situations.
“I had a lot of fun and played some good matches,” said Kimberly Liao, the former Suffolk County girls singles champion who will be entering her sophomore season at Commack High School in the fall. . “It helped give me some exposure to many coaches and gave them a chance to see how I play in person. It definitely helps when the coach gets to see you play and when you have the chance to talk to them in person afterwards. It was a great experience.”
The match results count toward Universal Tennis Ratings and, thanks to the combine’s partnership with Tennis Analytics, are uploaded to a Player Portal page on the JMTA website, which can be accessed by both the players and coaches.
“Out of all the exposure camps in the country, this is really the one that has the level of statistics that are given to the players,” added Harris. “The results go on their Player Portal pages, where the players can go in and analyze their own matches played here. But the coaches from all over the country can also go on and evaluate players.”
One new component that was added to this year’s edition of the event was the Mental Toughness Assessment as Harris said they will to look at new aspects to continue to enhance the combine.
Some of the colleges in attendance included Bentley, Boston University, Purdue, St. John’s, Yale and Stony Brook.
“The Combine is such an important event because it gives us an opportunity to see recruits in action against players of similar levels,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Gary Glassman. “It also helps us to see how recruits handle the pressure of competing in front of several college coaches.”
JMTA students who have gone on to compete on the collegiate level include: current ATP #191 and 2014 junior Wimbledon champion Noah Rubin, who was the ACC Player of the Year at Wake Forest University and NCAA singles finalist in 2015; Jamie Loeb, current WTA pro who won the 2015 NCAA singles champion from the University of North Carolina; Jessica Golovin, who just finished her sophomore season at LSU; and Sabrina Xiong, who completed her sophomore season at Harvard and was the recipient of the first full scholarship to JMTA in 2010.
“With the great success we have had helping to place Academy students in college programs where they are most likely to flourish academically and athletically, the JMTA Combine is a natural progression for us,” said John McEnroe. “The Combine enables us to help a broader group of youngsters, including those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with college coaches in a live showcase of their skills and personalities.”