On National Signing Day last week, Junior Tennis Champions Center players cemented their futures in collegiate tennis by signing letters of intent. The early signing period for basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, swimming, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling commenced on Wednesday, November 13 and runs through Wednesday, November 20.
Dylan Owens: James Madison University
The Dukes of James Madison University compete in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Under the leadership of Head Coach Maria Malerba, the team finished with a 12-7 record last spring and earned their first trip to the semifinals of the CAA Championship since 2003. Malerba has compiled a 60% winning percentage (415-275) in her 38 years at the helm of the Dukes program and was tabbed the Virginia Coach of the Year by the USTA in 1997.
Aaron Hiltzik: University of Illinois
Per a press release on the University of Illinois Athletics website:
“[Associate Head Coach] Marcos [Asse] and I and the team are tremendously excited to officially welcome Aron into the Fighting Illini program,” [Head Coach Brad] Dancer said. “We believe in Aron’s ability to impact our squad immediately. Not only is he a great tennis player, but he possesses an inquisitive mind that will integrate well into our university culture. David and Arlyn Hiltzik have raised two outstanding boys and we are thrilled to have both of them representing our university.”
Tennisreruiting.net gives Aron a five-star ranking. In addition, they rank him 19th overall in the 2014 class and the third best in the state of Illinois. So far in 2013, Hiltzik has produced a 50-18 overall record in junior competition. Other notable career highlights include 2013 Midwest Closed Boys 18s Champion and the 2012 Easter Bowl Boys 16s Singles Finalist.
“I chose Illinois because I connected with the coaches and team really well,” Hiltzik said. “The team has produced many pros in the past years and I believe that going to this school would help me reach that goal of becoming a professional tennis player. I believe that this team can win another national championship in the future and I would love to be a part of it. I had a great relationship with the coaches Brad Dancer and Marcos Asse and they have a plan for the team and I to become successful. My brother is on the team and he is a great role model to be around. My coach Billy Heiser went to Illinois and he told me that it is a great school academically and the alumni are like a family. I am very excited to start playing tennis for the Fighting Illini next fall.”
Thomas Mayronne: University of South Carolina
Per a press release on the University of South Carolina Athletics website:
South Carolina Head Men’s Tennis Coach Josh Goffi announced that Thomas Mayronne (Monroe, La./National Connections Academy) has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University and play for the Gamecocks. Mayronne will have four years of eligibility beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
“Thomas is one of the most mature competitors I’ve seen in a 17-18 year old,” Goffi said. “His class and composure stand out against almost any kid in the country, and I like the way he navigates himself through matches. His physicality and backhand are his strengths, and I’m confident we can further develop his forehand and serve. He’s a natural born winner, and he’s used to winning a lot, which gets him through a lot of tough matches right now. I look forward to helping him develop his game around that amazing infrastructure.”
The second blue chip recruit to join Goffi’s 2014 class, Mayronne ranks No. 15 nationally, according to Tennis Recruiting Network. The top player in Louisiana and the Gulf States region has a 36-14 record in junior events, including an 11-9 mark against other blue chip rated players. Mayronne is a glowing 10-2 against his fellow five-star players and has some experience against at least one of his future teammates, falling to current Gamecock Andrew Schafer in the final of the USTA National Open in May 2013. Mayronne reached the semifinals of three other events in the last 12 months, including the 2012 USTA National Winter Championships.
AJ Catanzariti: Texas A&M University
Per a press release on the Texas A&M University Athletics website:
Texas A&M men’s tennis head coach Steve Denton announced the signing of a Top 25 National Blue Chip tennis player in A.J. Catanzariti (pronounced ca-TAN-za-ree-tee) from College Park, Maryland, that should help continue to build upon the Aggies’ current streak of 20 NCAA Championship appearances.
“We are very pleased to sign one of the top players in the country in A.J. Cantanzariti,” Denton said. “He will really help us. He is a great athlete, a hard worker and has a tremendous upside. I think he will fit in really well with the guys on the team and will help us next year.”
Catanzariti grew up in Pittsburgh but left after his high school freshman year to train at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland.
“Some of the top players in the country train at the Junior Tennis Champions Center including top 100 pro Dennis Kudla as well as Mitchell Frank,” Denton explained. “Frank is a junior at Virginia who has been ranked No. 1 in the ITA rankings. Our own senior All-American Junior Ore has also trained there and they have produced some outstanding tennis players.”
“A.J. is a big physical athlete with great ball striking skills,” Denton added. “We know we are getting a potential great player and a great competitor. He has the work ethic needed to become a difference maker. He has had success in the U.S. as well as in the international arenas. We couldn’t be more excited about A.J. joining our team next season.”
Several factors played into Cantanzariti signing with Texas A&M.
“I really like the coaching combination of Steve Denton and Bob McKinley and I think they can help my game,” Catanzariti said. “I also felt comfortable with the guys on the team and they play a really good and tough schedule. One of my goals is to help Texas A&M win championships. I was also impressed with the academics at Texas A&M.”
Andrew Harrington: University of Miami
Since joining in 2005, the University of Miami has finished in the top five in the ACC three times, including a three-way tie with Duke and Virginia in 2006. The Hurricanes have qualified for the NCAA Championship more than any other ACC school since the tournament went to a dual match format in 1978 (23 berths). In those appearances, Miami has won at least one or more matches nine times while advancing to the Sweet 16 four times. In the late 1950’s, the Hurricanes secured 137 straight wins. The remarkable string of victories came on the heels of a 72-match win streak, giving the program a 209-1 record over the course of a decade.
Alexander Reinke, Nick Bayh, Blake Morton, Matthew Shure, Anmol Sandhu, Julian Zlobinsky, Josh Silverstein and Jordi Arconada have yet to sign letters of intent. If they do not sign by Wednesday, November 20, they will make their official declarations as early as April 16.
For players attending Division III institutions, letters of intent are not signed. The following two players will attend Division III institutions:
Mia Gancayco: Williams College
In her first six years on the job, Head Coach Alison Swain (2001 graduate) has led the Ephs of Williams College to a Division III NCAA Championship (2008-2013). Stanford is the only other NCAA women’s tennis program to rattle off six straight titles. In 2013, Swain upped her NCAA Tournament coaching record to 30-0 and captured her fourth NESCAC Coach of the Year award, second ITA Northeast Coach of the Year honor and her first Wilson/ITA National Division III Coach of the Year award.
Luke Tercek: Bowdoin College
For the second time in program history and in the first season of Head Coach Conor Smith, Bowdoin College earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Championship quarterfinals in 2011. Polar Bear and team leader Luke Trinka posted a win at the ITA New England Men’s Tennis Championship in September this year.