GOSHEN, Ind. – Heading into his 14th season at the helm of the Goshen College men's tennis program, head coach Stan King has announced his 2012 recruiting class. As the Maple Leafs look to bounce back from a 5-10 mark last season, King has added seven student-athletes to the fold, including four international standouts.
Porsggrunn Upper Secondary
An elite international player, Jon Kaasa had an Under-18 ranking of #7 in Norway in 2011 and was selected to be a member of the Nafters Group, a group composed of the top eight U18 players in the Scandinavian nation. He began playing the game at age six and has been playing continuously since, including national tournaments in Norway and Sweden.
Kaasa, who has specialized in physics, mathematics, and chemistry academically, cited Goshen's strong academic offerings, quality college experience, and the challenge to grow intellectually and socially as reasons for his decision to become a Maple Leaf. He also looks forward to the "opportunity to improve my tennis game, enjoy competitive matches, and the camaraderie with teammates."
"I'm looking forward to Jon being a member of our team," King explained. "He brings a lot of experience and skill with him and I am confident that he will have an immediate impact on the success of the team."
Altisz Foundation Secondary
Like Kaasa, Balazs Pirot brings a wealth of international experience and acclaim. After beginning to play local tournaments at age eight, Pirot has reached national rankings of #7 (U16), #8 (U18) and is currently the #46 ranked men's player in Hungary.
Pirot plans on studying mathematics and computer science at Goshen, which he chose "because of the opportunities it provides for receiving a quality education and a competitive tennis experience, all in a friendly environment."
"Balazs brings a lot of talent, enthusiasm, and experience to the team," King said. "He should be a great addition, possibly working his way into the top half of the starting lineup right away. He's a leader, has a winning personality, and should fit right in with our campus community."
Colegio Amglo High School
The third international player set to join the Maple Leafs is Brazilian native Thiago Amaral. Amaral has been playing elite club level tennis since he was 12 years old and has both doubles and singles experience, including achieving a top 10 U18 ranking in the state of Sao Paulo. Among the reasons he selected Goshen, Amaral notes the strong academic reputation, tennis program, opportunity to get to know another country and its people, and the quality life experience he believes is possible at Goshen.
"Thiago is going to be a nice addition to the team, likely pushing for a spot in the starting lineup right away," King explained. "He has a good knowledge of tennis and an understanding of what it takes to improve his game. Beyond tennis, I like his enthusiasm for Goshen College and his desire to take advantage of opportunities Goshen provides for growing intellectually and socially."
East Chicago Central High School
East Chicago, Ind.
Armando Nunez joins the Maple Leafs after being a team captain and playing at the No. 1 singles spot for East Chicago Central. He racked up a 6-6 mark as a senior, while also having several years of experience in doubles, playing in the top position for the junior varsity team.
Inspired by a deaf cousin, Nunez plans to study American Sign Language at Goshen. He graduated high school with an honors diploma and looks forward to "the ASL program, relatively small college community, and the 'at home' feeling campus visits have given."
"I am looking forward to having Armando on the team," King explained. "I like his passion for tennis and his interest in and potential for improving his game at Goshen College."
Bethany Christian High School
A team captain last year as a sophomore at Hesston College, Austin Loucks played No. 5 and No. 6 singles and No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. While at local Bethany Christian High School, he was primarily a doubles player, including holding the No. 1 spot as a senior. Louck plans on studying math education with the hope of someday teaching high school math in an inner-city setting.
Coach King said, "Austin has a good tennis foundation and motivation on which to continue to build his game. His understanding of doubles and his leadership qualities are great assets he brings to the team."
PSG College of Arts and Sciences
Sacred Heart High School
Another international standout, Vasantkumar "Vansath" Palanisamy has reached as high as #53 in the All-Indian U-16 ranking and #88 in the U-18 category. Playing since he was eight years old, Palanisamy boarded at a tennis academy in Chennai to maximize his tennis skills and increase his opportunities to compete in tournaments, which has taken his to Sri Lanka and China as well as throughout India.
"Vasanth's tennis experience and level of play in both singles and doubles makes him a great addition to our team," King said. "He's a lefty who is enthusiastic about tennis. I look forward to the raised competitive spirit his presence should bring to the team."
Carmel High School
A 2012 graduate of Carmel High School, the majority of Alex Long's career has consisted of clinics, private lessons, and summer tournaments. The Carmel tennis program is one of the best in the state and included a 2011 state title. Long plans to study American Sign Language and Art, with a specific interest in ceramics and jewelry.
"Alex will be a good addition to our team," King added. "I like his enthusiasm and appreciation for tennis as well as his dedication to improving his game and contributing to the team."