Fall Signing Week '09: Dream Come True as Mengel Picks Duke
by Joshua Rey, 12 November 2009
Thanksgiving is fast approaching but Chris Mengel couldn't wait until Nov. 26 to share his gratitude. In revealing his commitment to play tennis at Duke, the blue-chip Pittsburgh prospect thanked everyone from Craig Perry, his coach of eight years, to the International Tennis Academy, where Mengel spent the first half of 2009 honing his strokes. Friends, family and the staff at Pittsburgh's Shady Side Academy rounded out Mengel's thank-you list.
will be in Durham next fall
© Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
"It was definitely a great feeling and a big relief on me and everyone else involved in the decision," Mengel said in an E-mail interview. "It had been stressing me out for weeks and it was great to be done and feel that I made the right choice. I can say I have probably always had my eye on going to Duke, but it wasn't until the last year or two that it was a realistic possibility."
Mengel said that one of his goals in college is to become a better doubles player. He's been on the wrong side of the tennis ball more than once while playing doubles as a junior.
Mengel remembers being struck by an opponent's shanked second serve at a USTA National Open in Michigan when he was 13. Then there was the final of a local doubles tournament in which Shady Side teammate Josh Ferraccio showed him some tough love.
"He said that he was going to hit his serve as hard as he could," recalled Mengel. "I asked where it was going and he said he wasn't sure but it was definitely going to be hard. I stood way over in the doubles alley and thought I was safe. He hit me in the back of the head with the serve and it made the loudest noise. The entire crowd made a noise of surprise and [Josh] fell on his back laughing. I chased him off the court in the middle of the match."
Unlike his partnership with Ferraccio, Mengel's results over the past 12 months have been no laughing matter.
Though a sprained left ankle forced him out of the Kalamazoo singles draw, Mengel has reached the semifinals at four national tournaments and beaten five blue-chippers since last November. During a three-week span this spring, he swept No. 2 singles, No. 1 doubles and team state titles for American Heritage School of Delray Beach, Fla., then beat Blake Davis and Justin Rossi en route to a National Open championship in Norcross, Ga.
"At the National Open, I didn't feel very well physically," said Mengel. "But I really stepped up when I needed to in the semis and finals and played the big points really well. It was definitely a huge confidence builder to win a big tournament like that at less than 100 percent."