With the addition of the No. 1 junior college singles player in the nation, the UCSB men’s tennis squad has every reason to believe it can improve on its 10-15 record from this past season.
Seminole State Community College of Oklahoma transfer Mbonisi Ndimande will highlight a strong recruiting class for the Gauchos as they try to exceed this season’s fourth-place finish in the Big West.
Along with Ndimande, who hails from Zimbabwe, Head Coach Marty Davis signed two other international players: Mons Knudtzon from Norway and Ziad Sultan from Kuwait.
Mira Costa High School standout Greg Scott, the No. 21 high school player in the nation, will be joining the team as well this coming fall.
Because of the departure of graduating seniors Taylor Chavez-Goggin, Alex Konigsfeldt, Philip Therp and Evan Jurgensen, Davis is going to rely on a young lineup next year as new faces will have to rise to the challenge of improving from last season.
“This will be a completely different team,” Davis said. “We’re going from a sort of veteran, senior-oriented team to a very freshman-oriented team. But I expect our top two returning players, Benjamin Recknagel and Mathieu Forget to be at the top of the lineup.”
Ndimande is no stranger to top-notch competition, as he has already participated in the Wimbledon juniors singles championship and played as a representative of Zimbabwe in the Davis Cup. Ndimande will help upgrade the Gauchos’ doubles play, as he hit the No. 1 rank in doubles as a freshman at Seminole.
Greg Scott, who just reached the finals of the National Juniors Open in Lakewood last weekend, also figures to be in the mix for a starting position.
Davis is particularly excited about the signing of Scott, a native southern Californian and the kind of top-tier recruit that UCSB does not normally have a chance to sign.
“There are probably going to be three or four potentially great Division I players a year,” Davis said. “And what we’ve found is typically these guys are thinking USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal, and we struggle to get recruits away from those traditional powerhouse teams, but with Greg Scott, he has put us in the mix of things because he is that level.”
Knudtzon is coming from the Norwegian College of Elite Sport, where he had earned the No. 2 rank in juniors and No. 10 rank in men’s tennis. He also won back-to-back national doubles championships in 2009 and 2010 and four International Tennis Federation doubles tournaments.
Sultan attends the American School of Kuwait and is respected for having an extremely powerful serve that regularly reaches over 100 miles per hour.
He is also the No. 1 ranked player in the Gulf Cooperation Council which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Davis believes this incoming class of recruits can greatly improve the doubles play that just graduated its top performers — the No. 1 pair of Chavez-Goggin and Konigsfeldt — and will be able to strengthen UCSB’s level of competition next season.