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After pivoting her junior career path, last summer Zoe Hammond (UTR Rating 9.21) was rewarded for her hard work with a place on the University of Kentucky team for the Class of 2026. Like many other high schoolers in the 2020s, Hammond had to adjust her recruitment strategy when the pandemic hit.
With tournaments canceled in 2020, Hammond lost her USTA ranking and her pathway to college was thrown into disarray. Universal Tennis stepped up with opportunities for players to compete in verified matches all over the nation (and world), making it possible for junior players to still catch the attention of college coaches.
Finding Matches to Play That Count
Hammond stayed on track by turning her attention to Universal Tennis events.
“I was still trying to get recruited, so I was like, OK, I need to find tournaments to play,” the 18-year-old said. “It would have been a little too tough to get my USTA points back. I realized that Universal Tennis had tournaments all over the place.”
By playing PTT and ITA Summer and Fall Circuit matches, the Tulsa native could work on boosting her UTR Rating, a huge factor in the college recruitment process. UTR Rating is the gold standard for recruitment as the most accurate measure of how a player is performing at the present moment. The algorithm takes into account a player’s most recent 30 matches, the strength of the opponent, and games won.
“I thought PTT was great because it gave me a lot of opportunities to play like four or five matches, no matter what,” Hammond said. “It helped me learn a lot helped me bounce back and be even more resilient.”
Hammond has played in many ITA Circuit events and four PTT events, with more events on her schedule this year.
Live Streaming for the Win
The University of Kentucky coaching staff recruited Hammond based partly on seeing her play online. Universal Tennis live streams matches and enables players, coaches, and parents to rewatch the recordings anytime. It makes it easy for college coaches to watch players compete anywhere in the world, on their own schedule.
“The PTT and the ITA Summer Circuit events were the only way coaches could see her play against that level of competition,” said Zoe’s mom Tonya Hammond. “So the events really saved the day as far as her being seen competing.”
College coaches could watch Hammond perform on the court and track her progress over the weeks and months.
“Because of the UTR PTT events being recorded and placed on YouTube, Zoe was able to have her matches viewed by college coaches,” Tonya Hammond said. “She fielded five offers and settled on the University of Kentucky after her official visit.”
The College Prep Continues
With her college career securely locked in, Zoe Hammond is still seeking out competitive match play to help her prepare for freshman year. Over the next few weeks, she’s set to play PTT $25K events in San Antonio, Texas, and Bradenton, Fla.
“I'm going to try to play as many as I can before I go to college, so I can get more matches in,” she said.
Five-star recruit Zoe Hammond (#56 in the class of 2022 / #1 in Oklahoma @TennisRecNet) has verbally committed to @UKWomensTennis. The Wildcats have now landed a five-star recruit in three straight recruiting classes. pic.twitter.com/XOrQw4BVRL— Parsa Bombs 💣 (@ParsaBombs) August 29, 2021
Her college career starts this fall with a move from her home in Tulsa to the campus in Lexington, Ky. The lefty is ready for what's next.
“I just want to have a really good time there, and I want to play high in the lineup and I love doubles,” Hammond said. “Obviously they have really good teams so that's gonna be really tough my first year and I'm going to have to work towards that. I feel like there could be a lot of different things I could do there so I just wanted to be the best player that I can.”