Men's Tennis: Men's Tennis Announces 2017-18 Signing Class
LAFAYETTE – Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns men's tennis coach Mark Jeffrey announced on Thursday the addition of three international players for the 2017-18 season.
Joining the Ragin' Cajuns in the fall are a pair of Germans – Dominik Koenig (Waldshut-Tiengen) and Nico Sojka (Winnenden) – along with Australian Pierce Gilheany (Melbourne).
"We believe this is another top-25 recruiting class among mid-majors programs across the country," Jeffrey said. "Nico and Dominik both come from strong German tennis playing backgrounds. Germany has a very strong tennis playing level which attracts players from all across the world. Both Nico and Dominik have seen a high level of competition from a very young age and that is so valuable when transitioning from junior to collegiate tennis."
Koenig, who was ranked as high as No. 146 on the German junior circuit, claimed a pair of state titles for TC Rot-Weiss Tiengen and helped his team earn a seventh-place finish at the 2012 German Championships in Berlin. Koenig helped his school reach the regional finals four times in a five-year span, claiming titles in both 2014 and 2015.
"Dominik is a really hard worker who knows the best is yet to come, and that's a great mindset to have," Jeffrey said. "He is going to bring the competitive level up for not only himself but the whole team. His fitness is already at a high level, so this will help our team compete off the court during the season."
Sjoka, a state champion on both the hardcourt and clay, qualified for the German nationals beginning at the U-10 level through the U-18's. He was a member of three state championship teams – Boys U-14, U-15 and Juniors U-18 – during his career and participated twice in the Half-Final Tennis Europe U-16's.
"Nico has consistently been among the top 20 Juniors in Germany each of the last four to five years," Jeffrey said. "He has played many players of a high level, so he is not going to be intimidated when coming to the USA to compete at the collegiate level."
Gilheany trained and played tennis both in his native Australia and Germany was ranked in top 10 in his birth year in Victoria. He won both singles and doubles Victorian schoolboy championships in 2015 and has been ranked just outside top 100 Australian men's open singles as a 16-year-old. Gilheany was the youngest male to hold a first-eight position at Xavier College in Australia and was undefeated in singles play at No. 1 in 2016.
"Pierce has had some very good results in Australia. He came very close to beating one of the best teams in Australia at Nationals this year losing a close third-set Super Breaker," Jeffrey added. "I think he is really looking forward to having another eight guys to compete against every day that are at a high level."