Aug. 4, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the first time since 2010, the University of Notre Dame men’s tennis program will welcome a top five-ranked recruiting class when its five incoming freshman join the squad this fall, Callaghan Family Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ryan Sachire announced Thursday.
The Irish will welcome a pair of TennisRecruiting.net-rated blue-chip recruits in Johnathan Small (Zionsville, Indiana/Laurel Springs) and Matthew Gamble (Webster, New York/Webster Schroeder), a five-star talent in Conor Somers (Virginia Beach, Virginia/Cape Henry Collegiate), a top-three junior player from Peru in Guillermo Cabrera (Lima, Peru/Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and two-star prospect Ryan Kempin (Sandy, Utah/Juan Diego).
"We are really excited about the opportunity to have these five young men join our program,” Sachire said of the nation’s No. 5 class. “Each of them brings with him the ability to succeed at the highest level of college tennis, and we believe very strongly that they will all play an integral role in Fighting Irish tennis moving forward."
Meet The Freshmen
The top-rated recruit in the Irish class, Small ranks 11th in the national class and was ranked as high as No. 7 in mid-July. He reached the singles semifinal of at this June’s USTA Midwest Outdoor Close Championships, finishing third as the No. 4 seed, as well as the doubles final, finishing as the runner-up. At last year’s USTA Boys’ 18 National Tournament, Small went 5-2 in singles and reached the semifinal doubles round. He will enroll in the First Year of Studies program.
At one point ranked as high as No. 8 in the 2016 class, Gamble will join the Irish as the nation’s 12th-rated player. He was the 2014 and 2015 New York State Public High School Athletic Association singles champion and the 2016 state runner-up. In June, he was named the All-Greater Rochester boys tennis Player of the Year for the fifth consecutive time. In July 2015, Small clinched the USTA National Team Championship Boys’ 18 for the USTA Midwest squad. He will enroll in the First Year of Studies program.
A five-star recruit according to TennisRecruiting.net, Somors has ranked as high as 46th in his class and will join the Irish having achieved a lifelong goal to play for the Irish. A dual-sport athlete as both a tennis and soccer player, Somers advanced to the fourth round of the doubles tournament at last year’s USTA Boys’ 18 National Tournament. As a high school freshman, he helped lead Cape Henry Collegiate to a 17-1 record, earning conference and state championships. The Dolphins again won the conference championship in Somers’ sophomore year. Last season, Somers was named the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools Tournament MVP as the team narrowly missed out on the conference title. He will enroll in the First Year of Studies program.
Cabrera will bring international experience with him when he joins the Irish this fall, having competed solely on the International Tennis Federation circuit as a junior player. While representing Peru at the South American Under-16 Championship (Sudamericano), Cabrera helped defeat Argentina to lift Peru to just its third Sudamericano championship in history. He reached a career high ITF ranking of 113, claiming fourth career ITF titles (one singles, three doubles). He has also claimed on U-16 and two U-18 national championships. He currently owns one ATP point and ranks 1,809 in the ATP rankings. He will enroll in the First Year of Studies program and plans to study business management.
Ryan Kempin joins the Irish as the younger brother of Brendon, who will be a junior with the Irish this season. The younger Kempin, who graduated from Juan Diego Catholic High School in May, helped the 3A tennis power to four straight Utah Class 3A State Championships, winning all but one match throughout his four years. A class president, student ambassador and peer mentor, Kempin graduated as an AP Scholar With Distinction. He will enroll in the First Year of Studies program with plans to study finance in the Mendoza College of Business.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.