Fall Signing Week '15: Blue Chip Emma Higuchi is a Cardinal
Recruiting interest was high on Emma Higuchi, whose
résumé includes titles at the Easter Bowl and National
Clay Courts, silver and bronze USTA balls, and World Juniors
participant. Higuchi took her time and visited a number of schools
this year before eventually deciding to take the five-hour drive north
from her home in Los Angeles to Stanford University.
Countdown: Cao Twins are Bound for Memphis
The college search for four-star identical twins Josephine and
Katherine Cao began and ended in Memphis, Tennessee. Hoping to get
acquainted with various colleges and tennis coaches at the 2015
National Clay Courts, the Cao sisters were separately approached by
coaches from the University of Memphis. A short while later, the
sisters happily gave their verbal commitments to the Tigers.
Countdown: Maria Smith Heads to Berkeley
Maria Smith, who has spent short stretches over the past few years in
the Golden State for tennis training, will call California home for
the next four years, starting in January 2016. The senior from
Houston, Texas, is graduating a semester early and will join the
Golden Bears of the University of California, Berkeley.
Saud Alhogbani Wins Second Consecutive Gold
Saud Alhogbani's strategy in every tennis match is simple: give each
point 100 percent, try to get everything back in play, and be
aggressive when the opportunity arises. Superb execution earned the
Blue Chip athlete from Alexandria, Va., the singles gold ball at the
2015 Boys 12s National Hard Court Championships in North Little Rock,
Arkansas, defeating No. 5 seed Benjamin Kittay of Potomac, Md., 6-3,
6-0 in the final.
Kalieva Upsets Top Seed in Three Sets in 12s
Elvina Kalieva earned her first USTA Gold Ball at the Girls 12s
National Clay Court Championships on a sunny Saturday morning.
Kalieva, the No. 9 seed, won five three-set matches during the
tournament - four where she lost the first set. The championship match
against top-seeded Charlotte Owensby was no different, where she
pulled out a thrilling 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory against the local
Spring Signing Week '15: Illinois State Champ Eddie Grabill to Dartmouth
Five-star senior Eddie Grabill is a coach's dream - he is an excellent
individual player, but also the consummate team player. Grabill helped
his high school win the Illinois state championships, including his
doubles title in 2013 and the singles title in 2014. In December 2014
Grabill committed to play for Dartmouth College in Hanover, New
Spring Signing Week '15: Alexis Nelson from Twin Cities Heads West
With many tennis players committing early, Blue Chip junior Alexis
Nelson got an early jump on the college recruiting game. Her junior
year not quite over, Nelson has made a verbal commitment to play for
the University of California, Berkeley, in Fall 2016.
Kevakian Commits to the Columbia Lions
For five years Andrea Kevakian managed to keep up her blue chip status
while successfully completing the rigorous academic requirements of
Flintridge Preparatory School. There was little hesitation on her part
when she was offered the opportunity to play for Columbia University,
where the Californian will pursue an even more demanding academic and
athletic schedule in Fall 2015.
Fall Signing Week '14: Kimberly Yee is a Cardinal
In 2008, Kimberly Yee was featured as one of the Class of 2015's
rising stars. Over the past six years, she has sustained that level of
blue chip excellence - achieving the top ranking in all age groups and
amassing a slew of USTA balls and titles. With her stellar tennis
credentials and matching academic achievements, Yee was courted by
some of the country's top schools - and she believes she chose the
perfect one for her: Stanford University.
Countdown: Blue Chip Trio Commits to Duke
Blue chip seniors Catalin Mateas, Vincent Lin and Adrian Chamdani,
among the top in the Class of 2015, have verbally committed to Duke
University. Ryan Dickerson, with his five-star credentials, joins the
University as well, making Coach Ramsey Smith's Blue Devils one of the
best recruiting classes of the year.
Kaitlyn McCarthy stays in-state with Blue Devils
Kaitlyn McCarthy the top-ranked senior of the Class of 2015,
shortlisted four of the country's outstanding schools: Florida, UNC,
Stanford and Duke. After visiting campuses, she narrowed them to
two - Duke and Florida. "It was a tough decision, both schools are
really great," said the blue chip recruit. With lots of family in
the area, location dictated her outcome. Home is Cary, North Carolina,
a 20-minute drive from Duke, where McCarthy will enter in Fall 2015.
Khan Twins Dominate Boys 12s in Little Rock
They may not yet be the most famous twins in tennis, but Zane and
Faris Khan certainly are making their presence known in the junior
tennis circuit. So far, the blue chip brothers have altogether won
four gold USTA balls, three silver and four bronze. Zane has the upper
hand for now, pulling a title over Faris 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 at the 2014
Boys 12s National Hard Court Championship.
Rice Owls Claim Top-ranked Texan Jacob Hansen
Most rising seniors see college as the next step to an independent
life away from family. For Blue-Chip-to-be recruit Jacob Hansen,
however, his decision was mostly determined by the fact that his
parents finally settled in Texas after years of living overseas. The
Hansens relocated to Houston, home to Rice University, where Jacob has
verbally committed to play in Fall 2015.
Spring Signing Week '14: Maese Commits to Boise State
After almost a year of international competition and intense tennis
training, Daniel Maese decided to return home to Texas. As his senior
year was quickly coming to a close, Maese gave up his tennis
activities momentarily so he could focus on academics. It was then that
his coach suggested he check out Boise State, and three months after
the initial contact, the four-star Texan committed to Coach Patton's Broncos.
Spring Signing Week '14: Mira Ruder-Hook Goes Wolverine Blue
Mira Ruder-Hook has a slight difference in opinion to the popular
quote "winning isn't everything. It's the only thing." "Wins are more
fun," said the senior from Denver, Colorado. "But it's the losses that
have motivated me." That attitude propelled Ruder-Hook to more wins
and a lofty ranking - and opened up many college options for the Blue
Chip senior. Today, the Blue Chip senior announces her college
decision - and it involves Blue.
Countdown: Huskies add Homegrown Blue Chip Stewart
Mitch Stewart, a blue-chip recruit from Federal Way, Wash., and owner
of five USTA balls, is legendary for his patience, speed, and mental
toughness. Those qualities, along with his endurance and thirst for
competition, will be tested in the Fall of 2014, when he officially
joins Head Coach Matt Anger's University of Washington Huskies. He
signed his National Letter of Intent in November 2013.
Blue Chip Lebedev a Fighting Irish in 2015
Alexander Lebedev impressed college coaches with his focus,
discipline, patience, skill and determination at the Boys' 16
Nationals in Kalamazoo, Mich. Among those who expressed interest in
Lebedev, who is still a high school junior, was Notre Dame. A few
months later, the blue chip junior from Island Park, New York,
verbally committed to play for the Fighting Irish in 2015.
Cassandra Vazquez Joins Tar Heels' Elite Team
Cassandra Vazquez was born around the time her soccer-playing father
got obsessed with playing tennis. She tagged along to the tennis
courts with him, and almost 15 years later, her own passion for the
sport has not only continued, it has only intensified - leading her to
travel internationally playing ITF events. In the Fall of 2014,
however, the 5-foot-9 righty will stay put in Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, to play for Coach Brian Kalbas' stellar Tar Heels squad.
Fall Signing Week '13: Thai Thompson to College of Charleston
During her freshman year, Thai Thompson joined her high school tennis
team just so she could keep fit for soccer, her primary sport. Two
weeks after joining in, she was hooked. Soccer became a distant
memory, and four years into tennis, the righty has made a verbal
commitment to play for the College of Charleston.
Fall Signing Week '13: Texan John Mee Stays In-State
John Mee is no stranger to Longhorn country, having grown up in Dallas
and spending many tournament weekends in Austin. After a college
search that took him to Illinois, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Arkansas,
he has decided that Austin is where he wants to be for the next four
years. Mee has committed to play for the University of Texas in 2014.
Fall Signing Week '13: Austin is Third Gator Blue Chip
It's a tough call for super-achieving USTA juniors: College tennis or
the professional tour? For Brooke Austin, a 17-year-old from
Indianapolis, Indiana, it was hardly a stretch to see herself as a
fulltime WTA competitor. But after weighing the decision from all
angles, Austin concluded that college tennis - and two-time NCAA
champion Florida - would be the logical steppingstone to her dream of
a professional tennis career.
Countdown: Karim Arem to the Big Red
Karim Arem's college plans have always been anchored on academics more
than athletics, and he has always thought the Ivies represented the
best education anywhere in the world. Cornell, however, had an unfair
advantage: Arem's older brother, Mansour, is currently a junior there.
Arem's brother encouraged him to contact Big Red coach Silviu
Tanasoiu, and that suggestion proved to be the best advice given by
one sibling to another.
Blue Chip Senior William Griffith Commits to Cal
"There are so many great schools in California that you can't really
go wrong," William Griffith said of his decision to narrow his college
choices to those in his home state. The blue chip's visits to UC
Berkeley, UCLA and USC reinforced this belief, but did not make his
decision easier. Having been born and raised in Fresno, however,
Griffith had a natural affinity for Cal. After much thought, he
accepted a verbal offer from Cal Coach Peter Wright.
Brooksby Claims First Gold in North Little Rock
Jenson "JT" Brooksby first qualified for Level-1 tournaments as a
precocious nine-year-old Californian. Now, three years and thousands
of practice balls later, the blue chip athlete finally owns his first
gold ball in singles. On the second Saturday of August 2013 in North
Little Rock, Arkansas, Brooksby defeated the fourth-seeded surprise
finalist Thomas Yu, 6-3, 6-1 in the USTA Boys' 12 Nationals.
Texas Blue Chip Grant Solomon Goes Harvard Crimson
Grant Solomon reached the end of the road in his college deliberations
with a regret that most prospective student-athletes would love to
have: from a list of great schools, he could choose only one. Some of
the top tennis programs in the country had courted the blue chip
recruit from Dallas, Texas, and he saw much to like at all the
schools. But in the end, the rising senior's answer was "a firm yes"
New York's Steven Sun shines in Winston-Salem
Steven Sun, affectionately known as "The Machine" at his club, started
a bit off-kilter and got down 5-3 in the first set, and again 2-0 in
the second of the 2013 National Clay Court Championship finals. Just
as an engine sometimes sputters, Sun momentarily stalled, but a quick
reboot allowed him to prevail over Blue Chip Brandon Nakashima 7-6(3),
In the SPC, It's Books Over Backhands
As teenage athletes across the country turn away from the traditional
brick-and-mortar education to tack on more training hours, the
Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC), the nation's largest
geographical private school athletic conference with schools in Texas
and Oklahoma, embraces its old-school ethic: academics before
Spring Signing Week '13: Arizona's Bhat Heads to Albuquerque's Lobos
Rachana Bhat's tennis goals have always been simple: try to win as
many matches as possible, never dwell on the past, and keep focused on
the future and the opportunities it presents. Playing for the sheer
joy of competition and pushing herself in every match certainly has
paid off - she developed skills, habits, discipline and an unrelenting
will to overcome her opponents. These are among the reasons New Mexico
signed her to a National Letter of Intent.
Countdown: UConn Snags Five-star Alderman
After winning the high school state championship in Mass. as a
freshman, Emma Alderman faced a dilemna - should she continue to play
high school tennis and defend her title, or does she move on and try
to make her mark on the national stage? Alderman chose the latter, and
with her five-star rating, she is one of the highest-ranked recruit
that UConn has ever attracted.
Teah Flynn Organizes Groundbreaking Tennis Relay
For a 15 year old, Teah Flynn has done more community service than
most adults, logging hundreds of volunteer hours raising funds for
charities, walking dogs owned by disabled people, and producing PSAs.
On February 9, Flynn, a two-star sophomore from Farmington, Arkansas,
will host her most ambitious volunteer project so far - a Tennis Relay
to raise money for genomic cancer research.
Paladin Pride: Karlee Bryde Signs with Furman
For four-star Karlee Bryde, tennis has been means of self-discovery
and of strengthening family ties. Over a decade after she began
playing tennis, the sport once again offered up another opportunity - a
scholarship to Furman University.
Fall Signing Week '12: Thoroughbreds Join SMU Mustangs Stable
Anna Kate Anderson, Macie Elliott, and Mary Elizabeth Wright marked
November 2012 as a double milestone in their young lives. Not only was
it the first time for each to cast her ballot for the presidential
elections, it was also the month that each affixed her signature to a
National Letter of Intent to play for Head Coach Kati Gyulai's
Southern Methodist University Lady Mustangs.
Fall Signing Week '12: Goldhoff is Hooked by the 'Horns
After his infamous trip to the finals of the Boys' 18 Clay Court
Championships in July, George Goldhoff's phone started ringing
early and often. Many top college coaches wanted to talk to the
17-year-old senior from Irvine, Calif. In the end, Goldhoff decided
to head to Austin, Texas.
Countdown: Wake Forest Scores Trio of Stellar Recruits
On a stormy Saturday in early September, three high school tennis
players were among the horde of screaming Wake Forest fans watching
the Demon Deacons defeat North Carolina in football. Not long after,
Samantha Asch, Kimmy Guerin, and Luisa Fernandez - all on official
visits of Head Tennis Coach Jeff Wyshner - made verbal commitments
to WFU for Fall 2013.
Sherry Thomas, a Mother with a Mission
When DJ Thomas was a toddler, his fingers clung tightly to the fence
as he enviously watched his sisters hit tennis balls. "Mama, I want to
do that," said the youngster. "No, little boys don't play tennis,"
said his mother, who thought DJ would gravitate to football and
basketball like her late husband. DJ, however, has proven to his
mother that yes, little boys do play tennis, and that they can get
really, really good at it.
Following a Family Tradition, Robbie Bellamy Commits to USC
Robbie Bellamy has been steadily climbing the rankings over the past
two years, and that rise had not gone unnoticed by coaches. After
sorting through the incoming calls, the reigning 18s champion of
USTA/SoCal narrowed his choices down to two: top-ranked USC or
third-ranked UCLA. Bellamy ultimately committed to the reigning
four-time NCAA champion Trojans.
Blair Shankle is a 2013 Baylor Lady Bear
World traveler and Blue Chip recruit Blair Shankle's family ties are
so tightly knit and deeply rooted in her native state that when the
time came for her to choose a college, they played a huge factor,
along with academics and athletics. Baylor University, two hours from
where the Shankle clan lives, fit the bill to a T and received
Shankle's early verbal commitment.
Roscoe Bellamy - 2012 Little Rock Champion
Top seed Roscoe Bellamy, pushed to a third set by a 17th seeded
finalist, calmly set aside the heat, humidity, fatigue, doubts, hopes
and emotions that accompany a Level-1 championship match. In doing so,
he overcame a spirited challenge by Danny (DJ) Thomas 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 to
win the gold ball at the 2012 Hardcourts in North Little Rock.
Georgia's Bryde Reigns Supreme in Winston-Salem
In the battle of wills and forehands between a pair of blue chips,
Trent Bryde of Georgia emerged victorious over Californian Roscoe
Bellamy in a dazzling display of grace, athleticism, sportsmanship and
maturity from each competitor in the Boys 12s Clay Court National
Makenzie Craft is Gone to the Dawgs
With her sister off to college in the fall, Makenzie Craft's
motivation to pursue her own college plans intensified. She visited a
host of schools, but none of them felt right. Upon the suggestion of
her coach, she went south to Athens, Ga., and she found what
she was looking for. Craft recently signed with the University of
Georgia for Fall 2012, a year earlier than her class.
Ojai Wrapup Part II: Whittle, Ho, and Brymer Win Titles
Every spring except one since 1899, the tradition-steeped Ojai
competition - the nation's oldest amateur tournament - has attracted
some of the country's finest tennis players. The 2012 edition
was held last weekend with more than 1,500 participants. Eli Whittle,
Alison Ho, and Gage Brymer are among the newest champions.
Schaefer, Hafezi, and Pelletier Win Titles at The Ojai
Hardcore tennis competitors know it simply as "The Ojai," a rite of
passage in American amateur tennis. Champions include names like King,
Ashe, Connors, Austin, Chang, Sampras, and Davenport. This year,
Dominique Schaefer and Arash Hafezi, and Jacqueline Pelletier can add
their names to that list by winning junior titles.
Spring Signing Week '12: Mary Meyers Flies with the Falcons
In an application process that took about six months to complete, Mary
Meyers breathed a sigh of relief when she turned in her completed
papers to the Air Force Academy in February. A few weeks later, when
Coach Kim Gidley called to say that she had been accepted, Meyers was
left almost speechless.
Countdown: Husky fan Barnhart joins his Dream Team
Hudson Barnhart had long wanted to be part of Coach Matt Anger's
Washington Huskies Squad, and in the fall signing season, Barnhart
finally fulfilled that goal and became the first U-Dub signee for
Countdown: Trinh Roars with the LSU Tigers
Tam Trinh sported a white LSU cap to his first Kalamazoo Championship
in 2010, when he and his partner went on a magical run as the first
unseeded team in 25 years to win the 16s doubles title. In fall 2011,
the five-star Trinh made his intentions official with the Tigers by
signing a National Letter of Intent to play for Louisiana State
Top 2013 Prospect Edward Covalschi Picks Notre Dame
With college tennis as the logical denouement of his stellar USTA
career, Blue Chip Edward Covalschi started looking at his options
midway through his junior year of high school. He whittled down the
list to his top choices: Ohio, Michigan, Cornell, Illinois, and Notre
Dame. In the end, the myth and magic of the shillelagh-wielding
Leprechaun and the Fighting Irish won him over.
Top 2013 Prospect Nick Wood Chooses Georgia
Late in the summer, after Nick Wood was sidelined with a stress
fracture in his elbow that required surgery, he decided to use the
down time to get his college search out of the way. Applying the same
work ethic that has propelled him to TRN's elite Blue Chip ranks, Wood
took unofficial visits and narrowed his candidates to a pair of SEC
rivals: Tennessee and Georgia. Ultimately, Georgia captured his
Courtney Amos to Yale
Eighteen-year-old Courtney Amos had her heart set on the Ivy League.
By the end of an official visit to Yale University in September, the
five-star recruit from Tucson, Arizona, had found her college home.
Fall Signing Week '11: Becker O'Shaughnessey to Alabama
Becker O'Shaughnessey was born and raised in the South. And now, just
as he had planned it, that's where he'll play his college tennis
starting next fall. After a search that came down to four schools -
Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and N.C. State - the five-star recruit
from Macon, Georgia, is poised to sign a national letter of intent to
play for the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, just four hours from
Fall Signing Week '11: Stephanie Nauta is Charlottesville-Bound
Stephanie Nauta has always been inspired by a single goal - to be a
professional tennis player. But she is cautious about jumping to
the pro ranks too quickly. "I see that I need to get stronger and
have a lot to improve on," said the blue chip senior. Nauta's
decision to sign an NLI with Virginia next fall is the latest triumph
for advocates of college tennis as a worthy training ground for
aspiring touring professionals.
Fall Signing Week '11: Redlicki Chooses the Devils
It was the sort of streak that most tennis players can only imagine.
For 30 matches during the summer of 2010, Michael Redlicki was
untouchable, powering his way to prestigious titles at the Claycourts
and Hardcourts. That breakout run opened many doors for the big lefty
from Illinois, and college coaches started calling. Now, Redlicki is
poised to take the next step in his tennis journey and sign an NLI
with Duke University.
Countdown: Brooke McAmis a True Maroon Cougar
As she began her college search, Brooke McAmis was told by a good
friend that "when you visit a school, you'll just know." And when she
went to the historic College of Charleston, she knew. It was love at
first sight for the five-star athlete and she has decided to make an
Countdown: Van Cott Twins to Tulane
Twins Alexander and Ian Van Cott began their search for a college
tennis home with a simple stipulation: They were going someplace warm
and sunny. The 5-star recruits from Unadilla, New York, recently took
a major step toward their shared goal of playing college tennis on
warm, sun-splashed days by verbally committing to attend Tulane
University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Countdown: Kyle McPhillips heads West to UCLA
Kyle McPhillips can hardly wait to hit the courts in sunny Southern
California as a UCLA Bruin freshman next fall. In fact, the blue-chip
recruit from the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby, Ohio, is already
packing her suitcase in her mind's eye.
Nolan Paige Heads to Palo Alto to Join Cardinal
As a highly prized tennis player, Nolan Paige received phone calls,
letters and Facebook messages from coaches vying for his commitment.
In the end, Paige succumbed to the sincerity and persistence of Head
Coach John Whitlinger and recently committed to Stanford University
before beginning his senior year.
Del Corral Plays Golden Encore in Little Rock
In the final stretch of a grueling 2011 summer schedule marked by
record-breaking heat, Alexander del Corral emerged as the top
12-year-old boy in the U.S. by collecting his second consecutive Level
1 singles crown of the year. He defeated 2011 Clays doubles champion
Nathan Perrone, 6-2, 6-2 in North Little Rock during a week of
Hance upsets hometown favorite in Winston-Salem
Kenneth Connor Hance, a 12-year-old Californian who once played
Agassi's son in a TV ad, dashed North Carolina's dream for a
three-peat when he beat Greenville's Patrick Kypson in a dominating
6-2, 6-1 finals performance at the 2011 USTA National Clay Court
2012 Commitment: Andrew Korinek a Longhorn
Last summer, seeded 5th at Texas' premier sectional tournament,
Andrew Korinek blew through the 18s division to win the title, firmly
establishing himself as one of the top Texas juniors of his
generation. Shortly afterwards, Texas coach Michael Center offered
Korinek an early scholarship. After discussion with his family,
Korinek accepted - and he will be a Longhorn in the Fall of 2012.
Spring Signing Week '11: Diaz Fulfills Lifelong Dream as Buckeye
Blue Chip Christopher Diaz narrowed down his college choices to his
hometown team and his father's alma mater. In the end, he opted to
stay at home in Columbus and be part of Ohio State's athletics, whose
tradition of sports excellence he has known for as long as he can
Countdown: Wolfpack Welcomes Ronald Powell
At the start of his junior year, Ronald Powell got some alarming news
- he had torn cartilage in his wrist that would require surgical
repair. Two surgeries and ten months of rehab later, Powell would
return to the court and start to regain his tennis form. This past
fall, Powell decided to play his college tennis in Raleigh, N.C., with
Coach Choboy and the N.C. State Wolfpack.
Countdown: Buell Heads Off to the Generals
During her junior year in 2009, Meghan Buell and her partner won the
Ohio state doubles title. That caught the attention of several
college coaches, including Eric Ishida, head coach at Washington and
Lee. In early 2011, after a phone call and an official visit, Buell
verbally committed to the Generals.
Favorites and Unseeded Texan Win in Tucson
Four athletes who train at USTA High Performance Centers - three are
12 years old and one is 13 - claimed the top prizes in Tucson, which
was ravaged by rain and cold during the Winter National's final
rounds. The Girls 12s champion, Sofia Kenin, won five matches on New
Year's Day. Kenin, Stefan Kozlov and unseeded Maria Smith train at the
High Performance Center in Boca Raton. William Blumberg trains at the
Flushing Meadows facility.
In Scottsdale, Top Girls Prevail, Upsets in Boys
In the last major junior championship of 2010, three Californians and
a New Yorker left Arizona with top honors. In the Girls 18s, No. 1
Gabrielle Andrews beat Kyle McPhillips, and in the 16s Jamie Loeb took
both sets over No. 2 Christina Makarova. No. 8 seed Thomas Pura upset
No. 1 Sean Karl in the Boys 16s, while No. 15 Eric Johnson, losing the
first set at love, came back to win the 18s over No. 17 Anthony
Fall Signing Week '10: New Yorker Tahir Bound for Durham
The very modest Jason Tahir didn't think he was good enough to make
the Duke team so he set his eyes elsewhere. This week, however, the
blue-chip recruit, whose tennis skills and accomplishments speak
louder than the young man himself, will sign a Letter of Intent with
the Blue Devils.
Fall Signing Week '10: Withrow an Aggie in Maroon and White
College could not come any sooner for Jackson Withrow, the nation's
10th-ranked player. The blue-chip recruit from Cornhusker country has
committed to play for the Aggies of A&M and is scheduled to be in
Texas by January 2011.
Fall Signing Week '10: Chappell to the Horned Frogs
After a flurry of college coaches came knocking on his door, Nick
Chappell finally narrowed his choice to the last two. The
seventh-ranked junior's ultimate goal is to play and succeed on the
professional tennis circuit. His college choice came down to who can
best help him achieve that goal. The man for the job, he thought, was
David Roditi, the newly-hired coach of the TCU Horned Frogs and former
junior Davis Cup captain.
Fall Signing Week '10: Amber Li a Yale Bulldog
Five-star recruit Amber Li had just returned from an official visit
when the phone rang in her Tampa, Fla., home. It was Danielle
McNamara, the women's coach at Yale University, calling to arrange a
visit during a family trip to Florida. Yale was already one of Li's
top college choices. And a few days after her dinner with Coach
McNamara, it was Li's only choice.
Countdown: Like Jensen, 2011 Orange Have Star Power
Luke Jensen arrived at Syracuse University in 2006 with an ambitious
vision for the women's tennis program: He wanted his players to become
serious contenders on the pro circuit, but also leave with an academic
degree that provided a future after their playing careers. With
things playing out according to script, Jensen has received verbal
commitments from four highly-ranked seniors that are at the same time
dazzled by his star power - and not cowed by his demanding program.
Countdown: Jeremiah a Cowgirl
Mary Jeremiah's college invitations would turn almost anyone green
with envy. But, after checking out colleges throughout the South
Central and Southeastern United States, the blue chip senior decided
to wear the orange and black of a Cowgirl.
Countdown: Koch in Garnet and Black
Although seventeen-year-old Kyle Koch headed into his senior year of
high school with a solid tennis resume, the 6-foot-3 South Carolinian
expected stiff competition for a coveted NCAA Division-I tennis
scholarship. But Koch's big game had caught the eye of Josh Goffi,
the recently-hired coach at South Carolina. Within weeks of Goffi's
arrival, Koch announced his verbal commitment to stay in-state and
play for the Gamecocks.
Lone Star Excellence
While the world's best tennis players battled it out at the USTA
National Tennis Center in New York City over Labor Day weekend, top
Texas juniors squared off in suburban Dallas in the semi-annual
showdown known as the Excellence. A future Baylor Bear took the title
in the Girls 18s, while a pair of qualifiers punched through to the
finals of the Boys 18s.
With Flourish, Levine Strikes Gold In Little Rock
After competing mostly in the 14s, Robert Levine wanted to test his
skills against his peers one last time. At the Clay Courts last month,
he won doubles gold and lost by a hair in the semis in singles. Last
week, he added a singles gold ball, overcoming Clay Courts runner up
and fourth seed Nathan Ponwith 6-3, 6-2.
Tarheel Hero Kodali Takes 12s Clays
Down a set and 5-3, Anudeep Kodali was unflustered. He pumped himself
up, moved his feet and used his ever-reliable forehand to put away the
few short balls that came his way. In a 200-minute match with many
momentum swings, the North Carolina native emerged victorious. He won
his first USTA gold ball at the Boys 12s Claycourts National
Championships 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6).
Nicholas Baez: Bienvenidos a Barcelona
Nicholas Baez could not have imagined that a leisurely European
vacation would drastically change the course of his young life. In
July 2010, Baez and his mother will move to Spain so he can train
full-time at the Academia Sanchez-Casal in Barcelona. Ali Jones talked
with the Baez family about this significant move.
Tucker Tennis Sends off Eight Seniors to Division I
Trent Tucker wants to regain Tulsa's old glory. Tulsa was once known
as the "Oil Capital of the World" with numerous gushers spitting oil.
But Tucker is not digging for black gold. Instead, he's planting
seeds of tennis. His 2010 harvest has been bountiful: eight of his
students have signed on to play Division I tennis - to Cornell, Duke,
Florida, Iowa, Marquette, Oklahoma, OSU and UMKC.
Kyle McPhillips, Gordon Watson have Golden Easter Bowl
Kyle McPhillips and Gordon Watson each have a collection of gold balls
at home from winning national titles. This past weekend, they both
added to their collections - capturing titles in the 16s division
of the Easter Bowl Championships in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Gabrielle Andrews and Jordan Belga take gold in 14s Easter Bowl
Blue Chip athletes Gabrielle Andrews and Jordan Belga both laid claim
to Easter Bowl Championships this past weekend in California in the
14s division. Their marquee matchups against Kimberly Yee and Stefan
Kozlov, respectively, had plenty of drama - with both matches going to
Spring Signing Week '10: Aaron Pfister to Michigan State
To tennis aficionados around Flint, Michigan, Aaron Pfister is a
familiar name. His two consecutive state singles championships
resulted in him being named "Mr. Tennis" by the Michigan High School
Tennis Coaches Association - and Player of the Year by The Flint
Journal for the second straight year. Next year, Pfister will be
in Green and White as a Michigan State Spartan.
Spring Signing Week '10: Courter an OSU Cowgirl
From the rich vein running through Georgia's tennis landscape that
produces top-quality gems, another sparkler from Lawrenceville has
been unearthed. Five-star Julia Courter is off to Stillwater,
Oklahoma, for further polishing.
Spring Signing Week '10: Joey Fritz to Amherst
Joey Fritz is a modern-day Renaissance man. An excellent student,
pianist, and tennis player, the five-star recruit makes sure his life
is in balance and has his priorities set: school always comes first.
When it came time to pick colleges, he gravitated toward smaller
schools with strong academic traditions. Fritz selected Amherst as
his college destination.
Countdown: Mamalat a Marquette Golden Eagle
When 5-Star senior Daniil Mamalat finished up his junior year, he
started to look around at colleges - including Indiana, Penn State,
and Marquette. The more he learned about Marquette, the better he
liked it. Finally, he signed on.
American Andrews brings home European trophies
Blue chip Gabrielle Andrews barely had time to return to her
California home to rest on her 2009 Winter Nationals laurels. Almost
immediately, the 13-year-old champion was on the road again,
representing the United States in two of the most prestigious European
junior tournaments: Aegon Teen Tennis and Les Petit As. That trip
was a very successful one.
Conversation with Oklahoma Coach David Mullins
Sooners Women's Head Coach David Mullins recently signed the top two
players in Oklahoma: Whitney Ritchie and Mia Lancaster. Both women are
five-star recruits with impressive singles resumes. Even more stellar
are their doubles credentials. They attend the same high school and as
a pair share five national doubles titles and a state title.
Copper Bowl Wrapup - 12s and 14s
On the first week of 2010 new arrivals and competitors from the
previous week's Winter Nationals converged at the Hilton El
Conquistador in Oro Valley for the annual Copper Bowl. In the younger
divisions, Girls 14s top seed Dasha Ivanova upheld her ranking and
lost only one game in the finals. Two seed Parris Todd and five seed
Liam Caruana upset the top seeds in their 12s division; and Boys 14s
third seed Augustus Ge prevailed over the two-seed.
Winter Nationals Part I - 12s and 14s
The first day of 2010 was picture perfect for tennis in Tucson. The
top-seeded players for all four divisions came through all the way in
straight-sets victories in the finals. By noon on New Year's Day,
Alexandra Letzt, Gabrielle Andrews, Spencer Furman and Gage Brymer
each was crowned singles champion.
Top Two Oklahomans Sooners To Be
Sooners Coach David Mullins didn't need to look far from Norman for
his 2010 recruits: he recently signed the top two women in
Oklahoma - Mia Lancaster and Whitney Ritchie.
Q&A with Carlos Brandon Florez
For freshman Carlos Brandon Florez, opportunity came knocking almost
as soon as he donned the Saluki maroon and white in fall 2009. The
number one player of the team graduated and the next in line was out
with an injury. Ali Jones caught up with Florez during the holiday
break to talk tennis, school, and his new life away from his family.
Fall Signing Week '09: Katz Chooses the Quakers
Five-star recruit Zachary Katz has made the decision to head East to
play college tennis for the Pennsylvania Quakers. His coach, the
legendary Rick Macci, thinks it is a great fit. Zach is very bright
and will get a super education," Macci said. "He can be a top Ivy
League singles and doubles player right away."
Fall Signing Week '09: Kosakowski Decides
The pull of a close-knit family and a university's athletic and
academic tradition made Daniel Kosakowski's college choice easy. The
native Californian with strong Polish roots will stay in Los Angeles
and don the blue and gold of the UCLA Bruins.
Fall Signing Week '09: Mira to the Commodores
Maria Mira, with her grit, determination, and serve-and-volley game is
heading to Tennessee next fall to wear the black and gold of the
Vanderbilt Commodores. "I chose Vanderbilt based on the following
factors: the small student population, its academic excellence and
topnotch tennis program with a great coaching staff and its beautiful
campus in the heart of Nashville."
Fall Signing Week '09: Hold That Hilsman
Five-star recruit Cal Hilsman will officially don the orange-and-white
jersey at Clemson this coming January, and he can't wait for the day
to come. "It was a no-brainer," he said about his decision to go to
Clemson, less than two hours from his home in Spartanburg, S.C. "It
just felt right. I really think that this is the best environment for
me to grow not only as a tennis player but as a person. It is close
to home and close to heart."
Countdown: Smyth to the 'Cats
Blue Chip Lacey Smyth had numerous suitors vying for her commitment:
Colorado, Pepperdine, San Diego and Washington. Ultimately, her heart
went to Arizona. "I chose Arizona [because of its] supportive
coaching staff, the cohesiveness of the team, and the career
opportunities available at the University," said the #3-ranked
Countdown: Hanna Mar Remains a Devil
Hanna Mar's college mascot will be no different from her high
school's, except for its color: she's trading her Hinsdale Central Red
Devils for Duke University's Blue Devils. "I visited a number of
schools and there was just a feeling I had at Duke," said Mar.
Lauren Davis defends 16s crown, extends win streak to 39
Lauren Davis has a shelf-load of trophies at home, including the
fourth USTA gold ball that she earned at the 2009 Girls 16s National
Hardcourt Championships this week. But trophies are not what drive
Lauren to play tennis. She loves to compete more than anything else.
This year, the Ohio native returned to San Diego to defend her title
and earn another shot at the U.S. Open wild card that goes to the
Wiersholm Prevails in All-Washington Marathon Finals
A mere 20 days after Henrik Wiersholm flew home with the doubles gold
ball from the 2009 National Claycourt Championships, he added another
two: both singles and doubles gold from the Boys 12s National
Hardcourt Championships in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Blue-chip
recruit and third-seed Henrik defeated fellow Washington state native
and sixth-seed Spencer Furman 7-5, 5-7, 7-6, in a match that lasted
almost four hours.
Charlotte Calhoun to SMU
Rising senior Charlotte Calhoun has made an early verbal commitment
to Southern Methodist University, a private liberal arts college
located in a quiet, tree-lined suburb hemmed in by the sprawling city
of Dallas - and a stone's throw from Calhoun's childhood home. Ali Jones
talks with Calhoun about her decision.
Jarmere Jenkins Chooses Virginia
The Jenkins family is all about tennis - particularly of the college
variety. The oldest Jenkins child, Jackie Jr., played for
Northwestern. Jarmaine played for Clemson. Terrance and Richard are in
college in Atlanta and play the local circuit. Deangelo is on his high
school tennis team. Now the family is preparing for another fall
sendoff - Jarmere has signed a National Letter of Intent with the
Virginia Cavaliers and has the hallowed Grounds of Charlottesville all
Spring Signing Week '09: Bernstein Rides the Green Wave
In 2005 the world looked on in horror as the floodwaters and winds of
Hurricane Katrina swept through the historic city of New Orleans. The
devastation is still evident four years later, but so is a renewed
spirit of resurrection. Adam Bernstein, Florida five-star standout,
wants to be part of that rebuilding in his own way. He signed a
National Letter of Intent to play for Tulane University.
Spring Signing Week '09: Bartnik In Like a Lion
Like many highly-ranked tennis players, Nicole Bartnik has traveled
extensively throughout the world. The people she's met, the countries
she's visited and the memories she holds dear have helped shape her
college choice. Bartnik has chosen to get a bite out of the Big
Apple, the city that never sleeps - she recently committed to
Spring Signing Week '09: Welnetz a Nittany Lion
Bryan Welnetz has become somewhat of a legend in South Texas' tennis
landscape. As a junior in high school in 2008, he won the 5A state
singles championships. A 5-Star recruit who is ranked #2 in the Texas
18s, Welnetz signed a National Letter of Intent last fall to wear the
Nittany Lions' blue and white in 2009-10.
Spring Signing Week '09: Doerfler Knight
Five-star recruit Jenna Doerfler is methodical, orderly and organized.
When it came to the college recruiting process, she kept a list of
questions for college coaches. After each session, she would write
down their answers and her thoughts. She learned a lot about herself
in the process - including that there is no place like home: Jenna
will stay in-state and, wear the black and gold of Central Florida
like her parents.
Countdown: Irving Bears Down at Arizona
Before Kelly Irving can answer her phone, "Bear Down Arizona" beckons
the caller to leave a message. Bear Down, of course, is the fight song
for the University of Arizona in Tucson. The Knoxville product chose
the Wildcats over Auburn and William & Mary
Countdown: Lampa in the Eye of the Red Storm
Five-star recruit Michael Lampa (Ocean, N.J.) has grit, determination,
and an endless quest for excellence. Those attributes have swept him
up in the eye of the Storm - the Red Storm, that is, of St. John's
Blue Chip Burdette Decides
In 2008, Blue Chip athlete Mallory Burdette racked up thousands in
frequent-flier miles playing her ITF schedule. Enjoying travel,
competition and camaraderie among the players, Mallory seriously
thought about going on the professional circuit. Despite the her
success and the lure of the pro circuit, she finally decided that
college was the best way to go.
Fall Signing Week '08: Cyclone Jenna
After considering Missouri, Wyoming and Gonzaga, Jenna Langhorst has
committed to Iowa State for one reason: Coach Armando Espinosa. "He
has already impacted the tennis program a lot," says the 4-Star senior.
Ali Jones talked with Langhorst about her decision process.
Fall Signing Week '08: Wilson Geauxs to LSU
Ebie Wilson will take heat, humidity and hurricanes any day. After
all, she has lived all her life on Alabama's Gulf Coast. In looking
for colleges, she narrowed down her choices to Alabama and LSU, which
are both within easy driving distance from her home in Mobile. Her
sister is a sophomore at Alabama and while that would have been
convenient for the family for Ebie to join her, Ebie chose LSU
Fall Signing Week '08: Dunkle to Samford
Coach Kemper Baker and the Samford Bulldogs kicked off their
recruiting season by crossing state lines into Georgia for 4-Star
recruit Zachary Dunkle of Atlanta. Dunkle will join a Samford squad
that won a conference title in its final year in the Ohio Valley
Conference - and one now hoping to make noise in the Southern
Countdown: Sam Wells to Vanderbilt
Sam Wells couldn't help but notice the man in the Vanderbilt shirt who
was watching his match against Charlie Jones at the 2008 National Clay
Court Championships. It was Vanderbilt Coach Ian Duvenhage who was
actually watching Sam's opponent, a new Vanderbilt recruit. A few
months later, Coach Duvenhage offered Sam a spot on the Vanderbilt
Countdown: Chris Cha to Michigan
Chris Cha has always enjoyed the big stage in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
After his junior year, he received offers from Stanford, Notre Dame,
Ohio State and Princeton. In the end, the 5-Star senior chose to
go to Ann Arbor, not too far from where his favorite Kalamazoo
Countdown: Kline Chooses the Paladins
Lauren Kline grew up on the tennis court - literally. For as long as
she can remember, Lauren has been hitting tennis balls and toddling
on-court. That's because her parents are both accomplished tennis
players as well as teaching professionals. Needless to say, tennis is
the family business and Lauren is a major investor and stockholder who
is expanding the franchise from Louisville to Greenville, where she
will soon join the Paladins of Furman University.
Spring Signing Week '08: Demos Heading to Drake
Four-star recruit Gabriela Demos is the top-ranked player in
Missouri and 134 in her TennisRecruiting class. Her champion's heart
and athletic skills got Demos on TennisRecruting's Hot 100 list in
2006. Back then, she made it her goal to attend a university and
represent it on the tennis court. That goal has been achieved: Demos
has committed to Drake University.
Spring Signing Week '08: Kargl Chooses the Tribe
For five-star recruit Katie Kargl, team spirit and school size
mattered most. When she visited The College of William and Mary,
however, she found a group of women in a small school setting who
played topnotch tennis, who hit the books just as hard, and who
enjoyed each other as friends off court, very much like Kargl herself.
Countdown: Herzberg Heads for the Bears
Five-star recruit Cassandra Herzberg is a young woman who is not
afraid to leave her comfort zones. Herzberg, a sun-spoiled Florida
native, is going to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island,
where temperatures hover in the 40s on a nice winter day.
Countdown: Clausen Stays In-State
Neil Clausen plays the piano and loves chess. He's a voracious reader
and an outstanding student. And, he also happens to be a five-star
tennis recruit. Rollins College may have struck gold with this
Shankle Takes Maureen Connolly Brinker Championship
On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, Blue Chip Blair Shankle (Comfort,
Texas) held off a fierce opponent in Ellie Yates (Ridgeland,
Mississippi) 7-6, 6-0 to win the Maureen Connolly Brinker Girl's 14s National
Championships in Dallas.