Leathernecks land 4-star recruit

Joshua Gleason courier staff

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Western Illinois men’s tennis may have brought in one of its best recruits in program history.

Bradley Holt, a 4-star recruit according to the Tennis Recruiting Network, comes to Western from Homewood, Ill., a Chicago suburb. Holt is the second 4-star recruit in program history, the only other being Zachary Frisch in 2005. Frisch, who made the Summit League’s all-league first team both years he was at Western, posted a 31-22 record overall at the No. 1 single position and was 7-4 in conference.

Holt, who played in one of the toughest areas for tennis in the nation, possesses good height at 6-foot-2 and, along with Leatherneck head coach Chris Kane, said his biggest strengths are his movement skills and ability to cover the court.

Holt considered Illinois State and Western Michigan, but ultimately decided to be a Leatherneck. Holt said that he “chose Western because when I was looking at the academic and athletic side, all three of the schools were pretty much even, but I really liked the coaching staff (at Western).”

Holt also said he admired the good examples of character the current Leatherneck tennis players have on and off the court and “really liked the team atmosphere.”

Kane’s top selling point to his recruits, which include Maximilian Cederkall from Sweden and Christoph Haertel from Germany, was the direction of the program.

Kane compared Cederkall to current Leatherneck Patrick Hammers in terms of playing style, saying Cederkall “covers the court like Patrick.” Kane described Cederkall as “an annoying player” to play against because he doesn’t make the silly errors that blow games.

Cederkall has consistently been one of the better players in Sweden and projects to be in the middle of the Leathernecks line-up in the future.

Haertel has experience playing in Illinois already. He made all-state during his year as a foreign-exchange student at Quincy High School. Haertel took on the tenth rated prospect in the nation and number one in Illinois, Vanderbilt’s Blake Bazarnik, and pushed him to three sets in a tough match.

Haertel is a 6-foot-5 lefty who hits the ball pretty hard, but according to Kane, is also intelligent and understands angles and drop shots.

While Haertel is flying a bit under the radar since the signing of Holt, Kane said that Haertel plans on “taking the team by storm” this upcoming year.

When asked whether or not this is enough for the Leathernecks to reach their eventual goal of winning a Summit League title, Kane said “this is a big step.”

“We’re getting better but so is everybody else,” Kane said.

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Jaguars are bringing in five-star recruit Jason Jaruvang from Phoenix, Arizona, while the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos will be returning Grant Fleming, who went undefeated this past season for UMKC in conference, and Nino Hasandedic, who was undefeated in conference two years ago as the Kangaroos top singles player, but suffered an injury this past year.

The Leathernecks will have great depth next year. Mandela Shepard is expected back, but is still waiting for the NCAA to grant him his fifth year of eligibility. Shepard was supposed to be the No. 2 singles player this year. Instead, sophomore Ben Yue played at the No. 2 singles position and will be returning in the fall, along with No. 1 singles player, Patrick Hammers.

Western’s men’s tennis will begin practice around Sept. 1 and will begin to sort out which spots players will be playing. The Leathernecks open up against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next spring and will be given a big test to start off the season.

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