Jackrabbit tennis announces four signees
South Dakota State tennis coach Michael Engdahl announced the signing of four recruits for the 2014-15 season.
Elif Gabb and Maria Laura Velazco Fasce will join the women’s squad, while Marco Paulo Castro and Stefano Blatt are set to join the Jackrabbit men.
Gabb, a Surrey, England native had a top-23 UK ranking in both U16 and U18 and was a state champion in both age groups. She won four of six regional events in 2013 and was a finalist in five of them. Gabb was also the 2013 Channel Islands Open champion and was the younger person to ever qualify as a pro tour racquet stringer.
“Elif has the perfect combination of being a tennis fanatic, while also being an extremely hard worker in everything she does off the court,” Engdahl said. “She has a lot of junior tournament experience that will help make an immediate impact at the collegiate level. She comes from a tremendous tennis family, but is ready to make her own mark in college tennis.”
Fasce comes to Brookings from Barquisimeto, Venezuela with a No. 19 ranking in Venezuela. She is also ranked No. 8 in her region and No. 5 in her state. A two-time state representative at the Team Nationals, Fasce won three singles tournaments and seven doubles tournaments in the last two years. Fasce was also runner-up in four singles tournaments and 18 doubles tournaments in the same time span.
“Maria is going to be a great Jackrabbit,” Engdahl said. I can’t wait to see her take the court and challenge our returners. She is going to give us depth and has the potential to have an outstanding career at SDSU. She is also an incredible student who is going to make a lot of people proud over the next four years.”
On the men’s side, Castro and Blatt will both make the trek to Brookings from Brazil. Castro hails from Uberlandia, while Blatt calls Sao Leopoldo home.
Castro was ranked as high as No. 22, while winning multiple state and national tournaments throughout his junior career. Castro won the Circuito Triangula Mineiro, Copa Minas de Tenis, Nacional Correlo de Tenis and was the Etapa Uberlandia runner-up.
“Marco has been impressive with the way he has pushed himself within the last year to prepare for college tennis,” Engdahl said. “His big serve and forehand will be a valuable weapon for him. I can’t wait to see him on the court this fall, as I know he has been working hard this summer. In talking with him, you can tell he has a great head on his shoulders and is going to represent the Jackrabbit family well both on and off the court.”
Blatt was a three-time national doubles champion, while being ranked as high as 11th in doubles and 17th in singles. His team won the national championship in 2012, while he won multiple state and national tournaments throughout his junior career. He was ranked No. 3 in Sao Leopoldo in 2012.
“Stefano is a great kid who is going to push our returning players from day one,” Engdahl said. “He brings the grind to the tennis court which is something we need to get to the next level. I know he is excited to get to work this fall and I can’t wait to see him wearing the Jackrabbit uniform next season.”
Last season the Jackrabbit men and women both lost in the Summit League semifinals to Fort Wayne.