Nov. 22, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina men’s tennis head coach Josh Goffi announced today the signing of seven players, three of which will join the Gamecocks in January 2011. The group, which includes two Blue Chip players and a pair of five-star rated players, is the first fruits of Goffi’s recruiting effort since taking over the program in July and represents the most decorated signing class in recent South Carolina history. Signing class rankings are not yet released, but early indications are that it will be considered a top-10 class to open the 2011-12 campaign.
Andrew Adams (Baltimore, Md.), Ben Barnette (Spartanburg, S.C.), Carl Eguez (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Kyle Koch (Irmo, S.C.) have signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University and play tennis beginning with the 2011-12 academic year. Lewis Barnes (Birmingham, Eng.), Nick Jones (Cardiff, Wales) and Chip Cox (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) will join the Gamecocks for the Spring 2011 semester.
“I am ecstatic about the players we are bringing in this spring and upcoming fall,” Goffi said. “Even though we started a few years behind schedule in recruiting these guys, Matt [Lucas, assistant coach] and I were able to bring in our ideal classes. Each one of these players is going to be a major contributor to the future of this program, not just because of their playing abilities, but more importantly because of their character and work ethic. All of them come from great families with great values that resonate with the culture we are instilling here at South Carolina.”
Eguez headlines the 2011 class as a Blue Chip recruit who is ranked No. 19 in the country and No. 5 in the Southeast. With a 43-14 overall record, he is 11-5 against fellow Blue Chip players and 11-7 against five-star recruits. He reached the fourth round of the USTA Boys 18 National Clay Court Championship. Eguez also won the consolation bracket of the USTA Tampa National Open in February, defeating five top-40 players during the event.
“We are truly lucky to have Carl as a Gamecock,” Goffi said. “He is an ideal recruit in that his dedication to and maturity level in his game are far beyond most 18-year-old kids. Carl is just scratching the surface of what he can do in this sport. I have a feeling that Carl will be a leader of this team very shortly after he arrives on campus.”
Adams is a five-star recruit according to tennisrecruiting.net and is currently 20-20 against players rated five-star or above. Ranked No. 30 in the nation and No. 6 in the Middle Atlantic region, he advanced to the quarterfinals for the South Carolina ITF event in 2010. Also this calendar year, Adams advanced to the singles final of the U.S. Junior ITF International Hardcourt Championships. He also advanced to the final of the USTA Eastern Sectional Closed Championships, knocking off two top-40 players.
“Andrew is the epitome of what we are looking for here at South Carolina,” Goffi said. “He is a great kid that is willing to work as hard as he has to in order to get to that next level in his game. He’s improved a tremendous amount over the last year to become a top-25 recruit. Andrew is one of our top recruits and is going to be an immediate force in the SEC. We expect him to be a leader for our program in years to come.”
Barnette (Spartanburg High School) comes in with a four-star rating by tennisrecruiting.net and is ranked 29th in the Southeast Region. Since this summer, he had picked up three second-place finishes in Boys 18 Doubles events, teaming with future Gamecock teammates each time (twice with Cox, once with Koch). Since 2007, he has collected 20 titles, including his most recent singles win at the Steadman Hawkins Boys Tennis Classic at Furman University. Last spring, he finished second at the South Carolina High School State Singles Tournament as well.
“Ben is the fourth-ranked player in South Carolina and will add lots of depth as a freshman,” Goffi said. “He has improved over 100 spots in the rankings in the last two years, and we see him continuing his growth as a player throughout his career here.”
With a five-star recruit rating by tennisrecruiting.net, Koch is ranked No. 57 in the country and No. 2 in South Carolina. Playing for Chapin High, he won back-to-back state championships in singles and helped the Eagles to their first team championship in the 3A division in 2010. Koch advanced to the second round of the USTA National Championship main draw. This fall he reached the semifinals of the Bullfrog USTA Southern Designated event in Mobile, Ala.
“Kyle is consistently ranked among the top two players in South Carolina and reminds me of myself when I was his age,” Goffi said. “He is a very good athlete with a good serve that can eventually be great. He has a forehand that will be the biggest shot on the court, no matter who he plays. Once he settles into our system here, Kyle should make some big jumps very quickly.”
At the top of the list for January 2011 additions is Cox, a tennisrecruiting.net four-star recruit out of Myrtle Beach High who is ranked No. 36 in the country and No. 1 in South Carolina. With a 44-20 overall record, he is 17-14 against players rated five star or higher. Cox won the 2009 Wachovia Palmetto Championship in Boys 18 Singles. He twice advanced to the semifinals of the South Carolina High School State Singles Tournament (2008, 2009) and helped his team to three straight 3A state title in (2007, 2008, 2009).
“A cornerstone of our recruiting philosophy is to bring in the best South Carolinians every year,” Goffi said. “Chip is among the top players in the state, and once he gets into this environment, he is going to explode. I expect him to be a thorn in the side for many SEC teams in the years to come. I’m proud to say that Chip was my very first recruit to commit as the head coach here at South Carolina.”
Barnes has shown he has the character Goffi is looking for in his players, battling past an illness that stymied his development and limited his results for the last two years. Among the top players in England as a 16-year-old, he reached the doubles quarterfinals at Junior Wimbledon in 2008. He was among the top 150 players in the ITF junior rankings, winning ITF singles events in India and Scotland and ITF doubles events in Sweden and the Netherlands.
“We are very fortunate to have Lewis at South Carolina,” Goffi said. “If not for a bout of illness, Lewis would probably be making money on the ATP Tour by now. We are very excited to get him back on track and to see what the future holds for him.”
The first Blue Chip player to take the court for Goffi’s Gamecocks, Jones is also the second international member of the Spring 2011 set, hailing from Cardiff, Wales, in the United Kingdom. He has played limited tournaments in the U.S., but turned in a 4-2 record against Blue Chip recruits. He reached the singles semifinals for the 2009 Evert American ITF Junior event in Boca Raton, Fla., winning the doubles of that event as well. Jones claimed the Under-14 bracket of the British Championship in 2007 and has claimed ITF doubles titles in Spain and Scotland.
“Nick plays a big-time game and has the ability to compete with anyone in the country,” Goffi said. “With his desire and willingness to work at becoming an ATP professional, he will make huge jumps in his progression throughout his college career. We expect big things from Nick down the road.”
Adding so many players to the program over the course of the next two semesters, Goffi is anxious to get his team back together this spring.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing these boys grow into men,” Goffi said. “There is a common goal among this young group as they each want to become an ATP professional. Practice is going to be competitive every day and will provide challenges for everyone. It is the perfect training ground for champions. This group was hand-selected to be the foundation of what this Gamecock program is to become.”
South Carolina opens its spring season on Jan. 16, 2011, with a doubleheader against Wofford and Elon.