Earlier this week, Coach Nickell passed along news on Twitter that Men's Tennis had signed a recruit for next year. The Men are losing two seniors this year, but aren't in a head count sport, so it's possible that Ethan Rittolo will be the only new face in 2015-16.
For Women's Tennis, which is a head count sport (scholarships can't be subdivided into multiple student-athletes), Chantal Martinez-Blanco has already signed her NLI and will likely be the only addition as the women graduate only Laura Fernandez.
With some confidence that these are it, and at least the news fresh on our minds, let's take a look at the incoming Bulls for Men's and Women's Tennis.
Chantal Martinez-Blanco, San Juan, PR
As mentioned above, Martinez-Blanco has been in the fold for a bit now, having signed her NLI during the Fall Early Signing Period. She's a four-star recruit ranked #1 in Puerto Rico.
Four stars in and of itself is not particularly rare for MAC Women's Tennis; six of the 11 known incoming MAC recruits have that rating , and two are going to Ball State, but scrolling through past lists on tennisrecruiting.net, neither Margarita Kotok nor Tanja Stojanovska - UB's consistent #1 and #2 singles this year - had any stars at all.
It's hard for me to find past tournaments or know how substantial the ones that she has won are, but this link provides a brief recent history of Martinez-Blanco in competition, and upon her signing last November Coach Ortman-Maines noted that she was a top-70 player in the USTA. I assume that's Junior rankings, but I can't find much more information than that.
Still, to the extent that I can find something and compare it to recent UB recruits, Martinez-Blanco looks like a serious pull for UB.
Ethan Nittolo, Flushing, NY
First things first, Nittolo's also a four-star recruit, in a sport where the MAC pulls fewer of those; this season, he's one of just two coming into the MAC. No four-star recruits made it to the conference last year, though in years past four- and even five-star recruits are somewhat common.
Nittolo's ranked 12th among junior players in New York and last year as a high school junior won the prestigious Mayor's Cup in New York City. Scholastically he competes for Townsend Harris High School, and New York Tennis Magazine last month profiled him as a "Player to Watch" in their High School Preview:
Player to Watch: Ethan Nittolo ♦ Townsend Harris
One of the biggest accomplishments a high school athlete in New York City can have is coming out on top at the end-of-the-year Mayor’s Cup. No matter the sport, the Mayor’s Cup is one of those things that all athletes in the city relish to play in. Townsend Harris’ junior Ethan Nittolo entered the boys singles draw last season as the number one seed. He lived up to that seeding, going through the whole tournament without dropping a set on his way to the Mayor’s Cup title.
I can't find much more on Ethan, but he's from New York, he's highly rated, and he's got some winning under his belt. Lots to like about this one.
Welcome to Buffalo, Chantal and Ethan! Stay healthy and we can't wait to see you both in the Blue and White.