The University of Detroit Mercy men’s tennis coach Grant Asher will add three individuals for the 2013-14 season after coaching the Titans to the Horizon League Semifinals in 2012-13.
Asher has announced the signings of Archie Nikitin (Omsk, Russia/Lycee #92), Bobby Cawood (East Lansing, Mich./East Lansing (Hope College), and Ismail Kadyrov (Vernon Hills, Ill./Vernon Hills), all of whom will all join the Titans in the fall of 2013.
“We have some big shoes to fill with the seniors that left who laid the foundation for us in this new program and these individuals have that capability,” said Asher. “We had the best year we ever had last year in terms of the Horizon League Cand the incoming class has a lot of expectations and pressure on them to uphold what these guys have left behind.”
Nikitin joins the Titans with one year of eligibility as a transfer from South Carolina State. Born in Omsk, Russia, Nikitin garnered accolades immediately for the Bulldogs taking home the Best Newcomer award in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Nikitin was also ranked #121 in the NCAA in singles his first year and #96 as a sophomore. He was a combined 45-0 at No. 3 singles and 38-7 at No. 1 doubles in his first two years and entered his junior year at #86 in the singles rankings. Last season, he went 19-1 at the No. 3 spot helping South Carolina State to a MEAC Championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance against #6 Tennessee and was named the Outstanding Player in the conference championship.
“We have never had a player in our history ranked in the NCAA and he has played at the highest level you can play,” stated Asher. “The leadership he is going to bring to our team will be instrumental after his team faced Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Championship last year. We’re fortunate to have a guy of his caliber join the Titans.”
Cawood will also have just one year of eligibility left after earning three varsity letters for tennis but graduated from Hope College (Holland, Mich.) this past May. The team MVP as a senior, he helped the Flying Dutchmen to a MIAA Co-Championship last season posting a 21-4 dual-match record in singles and a 17-9 mark at doubles. A three-time member of the All-MIAA First Team and the 2012 winner of the MIAA Stowe Memorial Award – awarded by MIAA coaches on the basis of outstanding sportsmanship – he ranks third in Hope’s history in total wins (104), fourth in singles victories (56-12) and sixth in doubles (48-28). As a prep, he captured a state championship attending the same East Lansing High School that produced Coach Asher.
“He is a great athlete who is tall and he is a real good doubles player with his height,” commented Asher. “I have known his family for a long time and I am thrilled to bring him aboard. He is a great student-athlete and a great model of what a student-athlete can be and I think he is going to add a lot to the Titan program. I think it says a lot about our program that he wants to come here after a great career at Hope.”
Kadyrov was born in Moscow, Russia, but attended Vernon Hills High School in Vernon Hills, Illinois, earning four varsity letters for the Cougars. A three-year captain, Kadyrov was a member of the All-State First Team as a junior in 2012 after recording a top-20 finish in singles in the state of Illinois. He became the first player in school history to make the state championship in 2011 and was also the first player to make both the singles and doubles bracket in the state championship as a senior. Overall, he holds the school record for most wins with 90 in singles play and was a three-time state qualifier. He was also tabbed the team’s Tennis Player of the Year in each of his four years.
“He is a big, athletic individual with a huge serve and he is going to make an instant impact on the doubles side. His accolades show he has a tremendous amount of experience and I’m looking forward to spending four years with him. He is very passionate and he has been calling me asking what he can do to help get stronger on the court. He will add great depth to our program and open up the recruiting doors in Chicago,” said Asher.
Detroit entered the 2013 Horizon League Championship as the No. 6 seed and upset No. 3 seed Youngstown State by a 4-2 score in the first round. The Titans went on to play the eventual league champion and No. 2 seed in Cleveland State in the semifinals. The Youngstown State win was the first in the postseason for UDM since the men’s tennis program was reinstated for the 2008-09 season. The 2013 campaign also marked the second conference semifinal appearance for the Titans with the last coming in 1991 when Detroit fell to Notre Dame.
The three additions join Chance Conley (Portland, Mich./Portland), who was announced in November, as new signees for the program that has Detroit’s roster at seven for the upcoming 2013-14 slate as six seniors graduated this past May.