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Tafelski announces second signing class

Longwood University men’s tennis team reached new heights in the 2016-17 season, setting a new program record for wins, and it looks to continue that success under third-year Head Coach Pierre Tafelski, who announced his second recruiting class June 16.

The group follows Tafelski’s four-member class last season and includes Rosen Naydenov (Sofia, Bulgaria), Daniel Hernandez (Palma de Mallorca, Spain) and Raisei Sakai (Aichi, Japan).

“I think overall, these three players bring great experience and great depth to the team and will fit very well into our culture,” said Tafelski, who was named Big South Coach of the Year in 2017 after leading the Lancers to quick success in just his second season.

The three newcomers join a young Lancer roster that saw contributions throughout the lineup on their way to a program-best 14-6 record and their first-ever appearance in the Big South Championships quarterfinals.

Naydenov is a 5-foot-11-inch freshman from Sofia, Bulgaria but has competed in France the past two seasons.

“I think he’s going to bring good depth to our lineup,” Tafelski said. “He’s a very hard-working player with very good maturity.”

Hernandez is a 6-0 freshman from Palma de Mallorca, Spain who comes to Longwood ranked No. 247 in the senior circuit in Spain after climbing as high as No. 56 in U18 competition. He also competed in the Islas Baleares Championship.

“He’s a powerful and pretty complete player who’s going to develop and grow in college tennis,” Tafelski said.

Sakai is a 5-6 freshman from Aichi, Japan who begins his Longwood career as the No. 1,211 player in the world for the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Sakai spent his senior season as the ace for Nagoya High School, which finished second in Japan in the final rankings.

Sakai ended his junior season as the No. 15 player in the National Junior Ranking in Japan before finishing his high school career as the No. 400 player in the National Ranking.