DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s tennis program signed five top-tier recruits to National Letters of Intent in November and those five have the Blue Devils with the No. 1 incoming class in the nation, according to rankings released by TennisRecruiting.net Monday.
Michael Heller, Garrett Johns, Omni Kumar, Andrew Zhang and Samuel Rubell make up the highly touted class. The five will enroll in August of 2019 and join the Blue Devil squad for the 2019-20 season. Duke garnered 484 points and collected 13 first-place votes while no other school in the nation collected more than six first-place votes. North Carolina (No. 8) is the only other ACC school in the top ten. Texas, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma round out the top five.
To compile the rankings, TennisRecruiting.net and Mizuno asked panelists to vote on the rankings. Each of the panelists submitted his/her take on the recruiting classes. Schools received 25 points for each first-place vote, 24 points for each second-place vote, on down to one point for each 25th-place vote.
“I’m excited for Samuel, Omni, Garrett, Andrew and Michael and this is a nice recognition reflecting what they have accomplished in their junior careers,” said head coach Ramsey Smith. “Our goal is for this group of young men to be the best class in the country when they graduate Duke, which is going to take a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment.”
Heller, from Magallan Tennis Academy, is a Boca Raton, Fla., product. He is a blue chip recruit and rose as high as No. 3 in the TennisRecruiting.net national rankings and since 2015 has been consistently in the top five. In June of 2017, Heller brought home the championship from the Boys’ 18 USTA Florida State tournament. A member of the Team USA National Junior Team, Heller won the 2017 Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros, in partnership with Longines, to receive a wild card to the Roland-Garros Junior French Open.
Johns, who resides in Atlanta, Ga., is the second blue chip recruit in the class. Johns reached a high of No. 10 in the TennisRecruiting.net national rankings. The Holy Innocents Episcopal School product is the No. 1 prospect in the state of Georgia and No. 4 in the southeast according to TennisRecruiting.net. At the USTA Boys 18 & 16 National Championships in Kalamazoo in August of 2017, Johns received the Bobby Kaplan Sportsmanship Award for the Boys 16s. Johns joins Smith and associate head coach Jonathan Stokke as winners of the Sportsmanship Award at Kalamazoo. During the 2017 event, Johns advanced to the singles quarterfinals draw.
Kumar is the third blue chip recruit in the class and reached a high of No. 17 in the TennisRecruiting.net national rankings. The Irvine, Ca., and Pacific Academy product stood at No. 24 in the country in the HEAD rankings at the time of his signing, while his career ATP singles ranking is 1,222. Most recently, Kumar has taken part in a number of Futures events, including three events in the Dominican Republic. Kumar earned a pair of singles main draw wins at the F2 event, advancing to the quarterfinals. He again went undefeated in the qualifying draw and advanced to the singles main draw at the F3 event.
Zhang, from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Bloomfield Hills High School, checks in at No. 13 nationally in the TennisRecruiting.net rankings and stands at No. 6 on the Dunlop RPI slate. Most recently, Zhang took part in the USTA National Indoor Championships, winning five matches at the event. He posted an impressive 22-2 record in junior events this past summer, highlighted by a quarterfinal run at the USTA 18s Boys National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Rubell, a five-star recruit from Miami Beach, Fla., is ranked 49th in the latest TennisRecruiting.net rankings. Most recently, Rubell took part in the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in December and two Futures events in November, reaching the main draw of the Panama F4 Futures event. In junior tennis, Rubell advanced to the finals of the USTA National L2 Tournament in July of 2018. In July of 2018, he reached the fourth round of the USTA Boys' 18 & 16 National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla.
“Not included in the TennisRecruiting.net ranking is Edu Güell who is going to have a tremendous impact on our program,” stated Smith.
Güel from Barcelona, Spain, joined the Blue Devils this month and will be eligible to compete when cleared by the NCAA. Guell reached the Round of 32 in the 2016 Wimbledon Juniors and the Round of 16 at the 2016 Australian Open Juniors. He received a high ranking of No. 27 in the world junior tennis standings in 2016. He was a Davis Cup member in 2016 as well as Spain's singles and doubles champion in 2014. Güell owns a career-high ATP ranking of 1,323, achieved in October of 2018, and a career-high ITF ranking of 27.
“The future is bright for Duke tennis,” said Smith.