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USU tennis: Utah State finalizes 2015-16 signing class

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Utah State men’s tennis head coach Clancy Shields announced four more signees on Thursday, wrapping up the 2015-16 signing class for the Aggies. The foursome includes Samuel Serrano (Colombia), Daniel Echeverry (Chile), Romai Ugarte (Chile) and Javier Araya Vargas (Chile).

“Overall, this is an exciting group of players,” Shields said of the class. “Talent-wise, this is the best roster we have ever had, but talent doesn’t win championships.

“The intangibles that these players bring will make the difference. Their total commitment to excellence, unselfishness and desire to be great will help us set the bar even higher next year."

Serrano, from Cartagena, holds a ranking of 787 in the International Tennis Federation Junior Rankings and is the sixth-ranked player in Colombia. In addition, Serrano has a universal tennis ranking of 13.31, the 10th-highest ranking among all Mountain West players.

“Samuel is going to be a great addition to our program,” Shields said. “An accomplished player in his own right, he is also the younger brother of two highly decorated college tennis players.

“He will be very prepared for the rigors of college tennis and what it takes to be successful on the court and in the classroom. I’m very excited to get to work with Samuel and see him develop as a successful college tennis player.”

Echeverry, originally from Bogota, Colombia, but now lives in Santiago, Chile, has achieved an ATP world ranking as high as No. 1,746 and an ITF High Junior ranking of No. 269. In Chile, Echeverry is regarded as one of the top-30 players in the country.The junior-to-be will be transferring from UT Arlington.

“Daniel brings a lot of experience to the program as a college player as well as an accomplished ITF and ATP-ranked player,” Shields said. “He definitely has the skill set to be very successful in the Mountain West Conference, but more importantly, I believe he will bring a missing ingredient in terms of being a great leader within the team.”

Ugarte, born in Venezuela, but now living in Santiago, Chile, was a 14-and-under national champion in Chile and rose to as high as No. 425 in the High Junior ITF rankings. Ugarte is also among the top-30 players in Chile and held an ATP world ranking of No. 1,702.

“Romai is what every college coach is looking for in a player,” Shields said. “Hard working, coachable, team oriented and also a great tennis talent. I expect big things from Romai as an Aggie and believe he will be a great leader for Utah State on and off the court.”

Vargas, from Santiago, is the third incoming player for the Aggies to also appear among the top-30 players in Chile and holds an ITF High Junior ranking of 613. Vargas was also ranked as high as No. 1,829 in the ATP world rankings.

“Javier has a dynamic personality and is going to give our team the spark of energy it needs,” Shields said. “He brings a great tennis pedigree to the courts, but more importantly his enthusiasm is going to be a key ingredient in our team's success. I’m very excited to see the impact Javier will have in shaping our team's identity and also the impact he will provide in our lineup.”

The foursome brings Utah State’s incoming class to seven, joining Luis Lopez (Chula Vista, California), Jonas Maier (Hamburg, Germany) and Dylan Ihmels (Henderson, Nevada) who signed with the Aggies in April.

Utah State is coming off a stellar season that saw the Aggies set the school record with 18 dual match wins. USU also posted a 5-2 record in the Mountain West after not earning a single MW win in 2014. The Aggies had multiple players record 20-plus wins for the first time in a season. USU was consistently ranked in the top 75 in the nation and also recorded the program's first win against BYU in its history.

Kyle Cottam is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Utah State University.