PASADENA, Calif. (Sept. 1, 2016) – Caltech men's tennis welcomes four newcomers which make up the first nationally ranked recruiting class (tennisrecruiting.net) in program history.
The class consists of:
Karthik Nair (Irvine, Calif./Crean Lutheran)
Connor Soohoo (Redwood Shores, Calif. / Silicon Valley Tennis Academy)
Miha Valencic (Colleyville, Texas/Grapevine)
Tine Valencic (Colleyville, Texas/Grapevine)
"I am thrilled to have the 19th-ranked recruiting class in Division III join our current team," Head Coach Mandy Gamble said. "With the addition of these outstanding student-athletes, we will have unprecedented depth on our squad. All three of these recruits are versatile and will be solid singles and doubles players. Practice will be intense with the new talent on our team, and there is no better place to train than Southern California and against SCIAC competition. Combined with the new additions to our coaching staff, we are looking to break onto the national scene."
Irvine, Calif. / Crean Lutheran H.S.
A four-year Varsity player at nearby Crean Lutheran High School, Nair peaked as the No. 266 recruit in the country as a junior before dealing with injury throughout his senior year. Still retaining his three-star rating, the National Honor Society member, Scholar-Athlete and fluent Russian speaker becomes just the fourth player in his high school team's history to compete at the collegiate level.
"A Southern California native, Karthik is well acclimatized to the conditions and competition in the SCIAC," Gamble said. "He was an impact player on his high school team and has the talent to help take ours to the next level. The coaching staff is looking forward to working with him to develop a game style around his strengths. I have no doubt that Karthik will have a successful college career and be a significant contributor to our program's continued success."
Redwood Shores, Calif, Silicon Valley Tennis Academy
Soohoo comes to Caltech as a top-500 recruit who, throughout his high school career, has become accustomed to hauling in awards, including MVP honors in both the CSUS and WBAL. He was also a member of the Top 40 USTA NorCal Boy's 12-18's and the WBAL First Team All Stars. In addition, he has developed and published two iOS Apps titled "Tennis Frenemies" and "Super Ducky Smash." His extensive field experience includes research at Stanford's Human Computer Interaction Lab and an internship at the NASA Ames Research Center.
"Connor is a very talented player," Gamble said. "His ball control and strategic patterns will make him hard to beat. I also really enjoy the creativity he brings to his game and in the classroom. He is a special young man and I'm looking forward to the impact he will have on our team culture."
Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine H.S.
Valencic, twin brother of fellow recruit Tine, saw his recruiting stock shoot through the roof as a senior, settling in as the first Top-100 recruit in program history at No. 99 in the nation. A two-time 5A State champion and 2015 5A doubles champion, he graduated as Salutatorian in his class, a National Merit Finalist and Presidential Scholarship Finalist.
"Miha is a high-level competitor who achieved a lot of success in the juniors," Gamble said. "He is passionate about tennis and will make an impact on our team near the top of our lineup. There is no ceiling on how good he can get and I look for him to surprise some of the best players in our conference."
Colleyville, Texas / Grapevine H.S.
Joining his twin brother Miha, Tine is also a two-time Texas Team State champion and doubles finalist in 2015. Valedictorian of his class, he is also a National Merit Scholar and Presidential Scholarship Finalist.
"Tine played on a very good high school team with his twin brother, Miha, and has the work ethic to make significant strides in helping our team continue its success," Gamble said. "I have a feeling about him and think he will surprise a lot of players in our conference. He adds valuable depth to our squad and will make an instant impact, especially in doubles."
This quartet joins a squad that recorded its best finish in the SCIAC in over a decade and boasted the program's highest-ranked recruiting class in program history just last year, which included single-season wins record holder Zixiao Li (Coppell, Texas / Coppell) as well as the career singles and doubles leader in rising senior Ruthwick Pathireddy (Cerritos, Calif. / Whitney).