Tennis adds five recruits
South Dakota State head tennis coach Michael Engdahl has announced that five student-athletes will join the Jackrabbit program this fall. Three of the five incoming student-athletes are coming to SDSU as transfers.
The trio of transfers include Gary Notkin, Lovro Curcija and Connor Tieszen, while the men also add Johnny Higham as an incoming freshman. On the women’s side, SDSU has added Iasmin Rosa.
Notkin comes to SDSU by way of transfer from Wisconsin-Green Bay with two years of eligibility remaining. The Wayzata, Minn., native played a key role for the Phoenix en route to a Horizon League championship. At Wayzata High School, Notkin was the #1 singles player and led his team to three top-five finishes in the state. Notkin will complete his athletic training degree at SDSU.
“Gary spent two years in a very successful tennis program,” Engdahl said. “He has witnessed what it takes to get to the top of your conference and play amongst the best. He is an outstanding doubles player and capitalized on every opportunity he had while at Green Bay. He is going to bring the winning mentality to SDSU and step into more of a upper classman role right away.”
Curcija, a Karlovac, Croatia native, is a transfer from the University of New Orleans. Curcija went 3-0 at the #6 position en route to a Southland Conference championship. Curcija was ranked as high as No. 29 in the Croatian national rankings. Curcija will pursue an economics degree with a business specialization at SDSU.
“Lovro had some very impressive results, both as a junior and during his time at New Orleans,” Engdahl said. “Anytime you have wins against top 200 ITF players and can go undefeated in conference matches, you know you can play. His game style is going to bring the grind to the Jackrabbit Tennis courts and he is going to frustrate a lot of people. Every successful team has a player like Lovro.”
Tieszen will return to his home state after competing for Nebraska-Omaha last season. A Sioux Falls product, Tiezen was the #1 singles player for UNO last season and was ranked No. 8 in the northern section. The Washington High School graduate won the 2012 state high school singles championship. Tieszen will be an economics major at SDSU.
“Having Conner return to South Dakota is great for Jackrabbit Tennis,” Engdahl said. “There is nothing but smiles when you have the No. 1 player from your home state join your program. Not only that, but Conner can play. He gained a lot of great experience being the #1 player at UNO and we are going to capitalize on every bit of that experience.”
Higham comes to SDSU from Nottingham, England where he was a finalist for numerous national tournaments. He won the 2012 18-U doubles at the Nottinghamshire County Championships and was a finalist in the singles. Higham, a National Honor Society member and class valedictorian, will be a civil engineering major at SDSU.
“Jonny is a versatile player with tremendous upside and potential,” Engdahl said. “He has a phenomenal athletic and team background that is going to allow him to compete at the Division I level and thrive in the team atmosphere of college tennis. He has a game style that fits in well with D-I tennis and it will be fun to see the immediate impact he has on the team.”
Rosa, an Espirito Santo, Brazil native, comes to SDSU with championship experience. Rosa was the runner-up in both singles and doubles at the Brazilian Championships, along with second-place finishes at two MasterCard Junior’s Cups. In 2006, Rosa was ranked No. 1 in Brazil and was also the runner-up in the TIL Junior World Circuit in 2004.
“Iasmin has one of the best junior tennis resumes we have ever seen,” Engdahl said. “Becoming the No. 1 player in Brazil is a tremendous accomplishment. It is going to be our job to maintain her fire on the tennis court and really tap into her full potential. We want her next four years to be the best four years of tennis she has played.”