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May 2, 2018

Top 10 Highest Ranked NCAA DI Men’s Tennis Recruits for 2018

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As the Spring Signing Day for Men’s Tennis happened a couple of weeks ago – April 11th, 2018 – we wanted to give you a preview of the Top 10 men’s tennis recruits heading into the 2018 season. This list is based on Tennis Recruiting Network’s (TRN) current Top 10 list for the 2018 class year. For over two decades college tennis coaches have relied on Tennis Recruiting Network’s ranking lists for an accurate representation of where each recruit stands in a given class year. Using a unique algorithm, in 2017 TRN correctly predicted the winner of matches they selected 81% of the time, while Universal Tennis Ratings (UTR) correctly predicted 70%, and the various point system rankings correctly predicted 55% (Wrege, TRN). Although their main competitor, UTR, is starting to be used more frequently, TRN is still clearly the go-to source for tennisrecruiting news and rankings.

#10: Andrew Fenty (Washington, DC) – University of Michigan

The Top 10 starts with Andrew Fenty from Washington, DC. Fenty committed to playing for the University of Michigan, which TRN currently has as the third best 2018 recruiting class for men’s tennis with 3 blue chip recruits and 1 five-star. Fenty trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, MD, where American tennis pros like Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla grew up playing. In a 2016 interview for On The Rise, when Fenty was asked what the strengths of his game were he said, “The strengths of my game are probably to mix up the pace and just give my opponents different looks throughout the match” (Kelley, On The Rise). Fenty will be Michigan’s highest ranked 2018 men’s tennis recruit. After Michigan lost to Stanford in the second round of the 2017 NCAA tournament, currently ranked 11thin the country, Fenty should be a likely starter his freshman year.

#9: Kirac Bekisoglu (Plantation, FL) – Florida Atlantic University

Next on the list at #9 is Kirac Bekisoglu, a native of Turkey who has been living and training in Florida. Florida Atlantic is not currently ranked inside the Top 25 and they did not compete in last year’s NCAA tournament. When asked about his choice of school, Kirac said, “I chose FAU because of the coaching staff and players who were all very nice. Since day one, Coach Gonzalez was very honest with me and I really respected that. I also have a Turkish friend studying at FAU right now and she spoke very highly about the school. I liked the environment a lot and its location is perfect; needless to say, I will be close to my home” (Unnamed Writer, FAUsports.com). When asked to comment about the blue chip signing, Coach Gonzalez said, “Kirac is one of the highest recruited prospects in the country and I am humbled, to say the least, that he committed to us” (Unnamed Writer, FAUsports.com). While Florida Atlantic has a solid tennis program that’s improved throughout the last few years, Bekisoglu’s commitment still comes as a surprise with Florida having a plethora of higher rated tennis programs available for a blue chip recruit.

#8: Sangeet Sridhar (Scottsdale, AZ) – Stanford University

Sangeet Sridhar is next on the list at #8. Having played mostly ITF tournaments the past year, Sridhar will join the very prestigious Stanford Cardinals men’s tennis team in 2018. The Cardinals were swept by Wake Forest 4-0 in the third round of the 2017 NCAA tournament, but they are currently ranked No. 3 in NCAA DI men’s tennis. No matter how good your junior tennis record is, no one is guaranteed a spot in Stanford’s starting lineup including Sridhar. While he definitely had an impressive junior career, reaching his peak of No. 55 in the world in ITF junior tennis on January 1st, 2018, Sridhar will have to earn his spot as the Cardinal’s roster is littered with blue chip recruits.

#7: Lukas Greif (Newburgh, IN) – University of Florida

Lukas Greif is next on the list at #7, heading to the University of Florida in 2018. According to the TRN rankings, the Florida Gators have the highest rated 2018 men’s tennis recruiting class of any NCAA DI program in the country and Greif is their highest ranked recruit. The Gators are currently ranked No. 10 in NCAA DI tennis, having been swept 4-0 by Virginia in the third round of the 2017 NCAA tournament. Greif has a great chance of starting for the Gators, despite their dominant 2018 recruiting class and having TRN’s second overall ranked recruiting class in 2017. He’s going into school in top form; his most recent result against a blue chip opponent was in August 2017 when he beat the highest ranked 2018 men’s tennis recruit committed to playing college tennis 6-0, 6-1.

#6: Brian Cernoch (Rockville, MD) – University of North Carolina

The #6 ranked recruit for the 2018 class year is Brian Cernoch, the University of North Carolina’s only current signee for the year. The Tar Heels, currently ranked No. 5 in NCAA DI men’s tennis, are coming off a huge year where they lost in the National Championship Finals of the 2017 NCAA men’s tennis tournament. Cernoch, who peaked at No. 40 in the world in ITF junior tennis, is expected to have an immediate impact in UNC’s lineup. According to TRN Cernoch had the toughest strength of schedule of the 2018 tennis recruiting class year, so he’ll be joining the Tar Heels in excellent match-play form.

#5: Ryan Goetz (Greenlawn, NY) – University of Virginia

Ryan Goetz, the #5 ranked tennis recruit for the 2018 class year on TRN, goes into the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers having played as much as anyone this past year. With a 31-13 overall record, including an 8-6 record against blue chips and a very impressive 9-0 record against five star recruits, Goetz is surprisingly the only blue chip recruit currently committed to the University of Virginia. Despite winning the 2017 NCAA DI men’s tennis tournament and dominating it in prior recent years, the Cavaliers are currently not ranked inside the Top 25 in NCAA DI men’s tennis. After losing multiple key starters to graduation, the Cavaliers have already suffered a host of atypical losses this year including: Ole Miss, Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, Illinois, Florida State, and more. While the Cavaliers don’t appear to be a national title contender this year, the first in many, Goetz will be a big addition to a young Cavalier’s roster eager to rebound in the 2018-19 men’s tennis season.

#4: Trent Bryde (Suwanee, GA) – University of Georgia

It seems like regardless of what sport we look at, the Georgia Bulldogs prove to be exceptional at in-state recruiting. This holds true for TNR’s #4 ranked recruit for the 2018 class, Trent Bryde, who will be joining the University of Georgia men’s tennis program for the 2018-19 season. Bryde had an extremely impressive junior tennis career; he peaked at No. 8 in the world in the ITF junior tennis rankings in 2017. The Bulldogs are coming off a great 2017 season, where they ultimately lost to UNC in the National Semifinals of the NCAA DI men’s tennis tournament. They’re currently ranked No. 20 in DI men’s tennis with underwhelming losses to Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi State. Over the past few years the Bulldogs have proven that they are more than capable of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament even with a subpar regular season. Adding a blue chip in-state recruit in Bryde – who was ranked Top 10 in the world in junior tennis – will very likely amount to an immediate addition to the Bulldogs’ starting roster.

#3: Trey Hilderbrand (San Antonio, TX) – University of Central Florida

The #3 men’s tennis recruit for the 2018 class year is Trey Hilderbrand from San Antonio, TX. He is currently ranked No. 33 in the world in the ITF junior tennis rankings, just down from his career high of No. 31 he attained in February 2018. Hilderbrand committed during the early signing period in 2017 to the University of Central Florida, an unlikely choice for such a highly ranked tennis recruit. With an overall record of 50-11 in the past 12 months, including an 18-9 record against blue chips and a stellar 8-1 record against five-star recruits, barring injury Hilderbrand should be in Central Florida’s starting lineup as a true freshman. While Hilderbrand is by far the highest recruit in the last six years to commit to UCF – in fact he’s the only blue chip during that period – perhaps the coaching program drove him to the school. The current men’s tennis head coach at UCF is John Roddick, older brother of former professional tennis superstar Andy Roddick. When asked to comment on Trey’s decision to commit to UCF, John Roddick was clearly very excited saying, “We couldn’t be more excited to have Trey join UCF. He is a tremendous competitor and has really developed an all-around game in the last couple of years. The strides he had made in the past 12 months have been nothing short of phenomenal. Trey is going to make an enormous positive impact on our program on and off the court” (MacDougall, UCFKnights.com).

#2: Alexandre Rotsaert (Boca Raton, FL) – Stanford University

Alexandre Rotsaert, the #2 ranked men’s tennis recruit for the 2018 class year, will be a key addition for the Stanford Cardinals next year. Rotsaert, the highest ranked TRN recruit for 2018 currently committed to a college, doesn’t seem to be playing his best tennis as of late. In the last 12 months he has a 14-10 overall record, with a 2-2 record against blue chips while not having faced a five-star recruit. His most recent result against a blue chip recruit was a very decisive 6-0, 6-1 loss to Lukas Greif (#7 on this list). Having reached an impressive career high of No. 32 in the world in the ITF junior tennis rankings just over a year ago, in March of 2017, Rotsaert obviously has tremendous talent and potential. As mentioned before, no one should head into the Stanford Cardinals men’s tennis team as a freshman with any kind of starting lineup expectations; every recruit has to earn his spot. Stanford is currently ranked No. 3 in NCAA DI men’s tennis, with their only losses coming to No. 1 ranked Wake Forest 4-3 and No. 4 ranked UCLA 4-0 on the road. They’re without a doubt a national title contender this year, with multiple big wins this season including: two comfortable wins against USC, 4-2 victories over Baylor, Illinois, and Georgia, as well as a 4-3 win against UCLA earlier in the year. The Cardinals will close out the season with three home matches against unranked teams before they make a big push for the Pac-12 Championship, before preparing for the 2018 NCAA DI men’s tennis tournament in May. It’s worth noting the Cardinals will likely be losing at least three blue chip players due to graduation, so Rotsaert will definitely have his chance to prove he has what it takes to jump right into the starting lineup in his freshman season.

#1: Sebastian Korda (Bradenton, FL) – NONE

The #1 ranked recruit for the 2018 men’s tennis recruiting class would not be disputed; by all accounts Sebastian Korda is the most sought-after recruit this year in the country. Coming off an incredible junior grand slam singles victory at the Australian Open, the problem for colleges is Korda seems to be leaning towards forgoing college and turning pro (although he is yet to confirm). Son of legendary tennis pro Petr Korda, the 1998 men’s Australian Open singles champion with a career-high ATP ranking of No. 2 in the world, signs point to Sebastian wanting to follow in his footsteps to the pro tour. Currently ranked No. 1 in the world in the ITF junior tennis rankings, having a grand slam champion as your father and coach takes a lot of pressure off that decision. Many successful professional tennis players like Americans John Isner and Steve Johnson – graduates of Georgia and USC respectively – elect to go to college to better prepare themselves for the ATP professional tour. With Korda coming off a junior grand slam champion, a No. 1 world ranking in juniors, and the luxury of having a highly prestigious coach as your father, there’s probably good reason Korda is yet to make a reported decision. It’s also worth noting that it’s unknown if Korda accepted any prize money surpassing travel expenses (he got a wild card into the 2017 US Open Men’s Singles Main Draw); this would result in Korda being ineligible to accept a scholarship offer to play NCAA men’s tennis. Regardless of his true intent to play NCAA tennis this coming year, there’s no question he deserves the #1 spot on TRN by a landslide. While many familiar with tennis might expect a father-son relationship to translate awkwardly into a coach-player relationship, it seems to be the exact opposite for Petr and Sebastian. Leading up to his 2018 Australian Open junior grand slam singles run, Sebastian – nicknamed “Sebi” by his father – said he watched his dad’s 1998 Australian Open victory “at least maybe once a month” for motivation. He continued in giving his dad and coach praise, saying, “I’m like a little bit of a righty version of him. We definitely have a lot of similarities. We both take the ball early. We’re both aggressive. I try to model my game after him” (Rothenberg, NY Times). Sebi makes a last minute decision to pursue college tennis, there’s no doubt every coach in the country will be doing everything in his or her power to land him.

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