SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Newly hired head men's tennis coach Niall Angus welcomes two exciting freshmen to the Santa Clara men's tennis program. Both international products, Jesus Tapiador Barajas of Spain and Vasileios Iliopoulos of Greece, bring quality and good work ethic to the team.
Tapiador Barajas, who hails from Madrid, is ranked No. 86 overall in Spain and No. 6 at the U-18 level. He competed primarily in open tournaments across his home country.
"Jesus is one of top ranked U-18 players in Spain," Angus said. "So that's how he came on our radar, we saw his results and work ethic and knew he was the kind of guy that we wanted to bring in to improve the culture of the team. We want to get that hard-working philosophy spread throughout the team."
Tapiador Barajas is the first member of his family to go to college and chose Santa Clara because of the quality of both the tennis program and the education.
"He's someone we want to make an impact straightaway in both singles and doubles," Angus said. "He's a hard-working guy, he fights hard, has a great forehand and is someone we think we can develop to be a great player at Santa Clara."
Iliopoulos has competed in multiple tennis matches on U.S. soil. He advanced to the finals of the Wichita Falls ITF in Texas and reached the quarterfinals of an ITF competition in Austin, Texas. He also competed twice in Skopje, FYR Macedonia, winning the Neocom Open 2015. At the Jug Open 2015, he made it to the final in both singles and doubles.
"Vasileios is interesting, we actually saw a lot of him because he was able to represent his country, Greece, in the Davis Cup," Angus said. "We knew the caliber player he was, reaching No. 270 in the world junior rankings. He's someone, again, who we expect to come in and make a strong impact, even as a freshman, in both singles and doubles."
Much like Tapiador Barajas, Iliopoulos fancied Santa Clara because it combines a great education and athletic development.
"He's a guy who plays pretty well off the baseline, likes to come forward, he's kind of an all-court player," Angus said. "He's somebody, again, who we think can make an instant impact. He works real hard and will fit into the culture as well."
The season begins for the 2016-17 squad on Friday, Sept. 30, at the UC Davis Aggie Invitational.
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