Building toward future, men’s tennis notches pair of top recruits

With addition of Litsky, Walker, Bruno boasts 18th-best recruiting class in country

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, February 5, 2016

As the men’s tennis team gears up for the bulk of its schedule, the squad has already received some good news for next year. Jan. 25, Tennis Recruiting Network named the team’s 2016 class the 18th best in the nation in its winter rankings. This class is Bruno’s most highly touted group of incoming freshmen since the ratings were first spun out 10 years ago.

Come next fall, the Bears (2-1) will welcome five-star recruit Peter Litsky and four-star recruit Jacob Walker, who hail from St. Petersburg, Florida and Bethesda, Maryland respectively.

“It’s very cool to be ranked top 20,” Walker said. “It’s a pretty big honor. It shows what a good job Coach Koniecko has done this year. It definitely motivates me, in that not only do I want to help the team, but I also want to live up to being that high of a recruiting class.”

Second-year Head Coach Bryan Koniecko is excited about the newcomers and emphasized how important recruiting is for a new coach like himself.

“The first four years of any coach coming into a program, that’s when you can really build some momentum with the types of kids you bring in,” Koniecko said. “Hopefully there is a little bit of talk around the nation about Brown University tennis and that we can continue to attract great players.”

The combination of Litsky and Walker makes for the second time that Bruno has made it into Tennis Recruiting Network’s rankings. This year’s edition also marks the first time all eight Ivy League schools were posted in the top 25, led by Columbia in the sixth spot. Brown ranked seventh out of the eight Ivies.

When asked about the team’s two future members, Koniecko had only positive things to say.

“Peter is a great kid,” Koniecko said. “When he committed to us, he was ranked about 30 to 40, but Peter is special because a lot of kids commit and then they are content. He did a great job of continuing to work on his game after he committed. I know he’s going be a great addition. He’s a great fighter.”

Now ranked as the 24th best junior in the nation, Litsky looks to have an immediate impact on the team. The incoming first-year has the genes for Ivy League tennis success. His father was a standout at Columbia from 1984-1987 and remains one of the school’s all-time most successful players. The Bears can only hope that the younger Litsky will leave behind a similar legacy in Providence.

Koniecko also praised Walker, who is currently rated as the 91st best junior in the country and the number one recruit from Maryland.

“Jacob is a very talented player,” Koniecko said. “I know he’s going to work hard and come in here and be a great example.”

There seems to be a mutual respect between the second-year coach and his recruits, as Walker pointed to Koniecko as one of the principal reasons he chose to come to Brown.

“I thought Coach Koniecko was very different than many of the other coaches I met — he’s young, he’s got a ton of energy,” Walker said. “I watched a couple of practices. He got the guys to work hard, but it also seemed like they were having a really good time. I thought that was really good. I’ll be able to improve my tennis a lot while clearly getting an extremely good education.”

Koniecko also mentioned that it is not just him who has an important role in the recruiting process, but also the current members of the team. He believes they have done a great job embracing the new culture of the program and providing a warm atmosphere during recruiting visits.

Greg Garcia ’17, one of two upperclassmen on the roster, noted that there has been a philosophical shift within the team since Koniecko assumed the head coaching position. He explained that this has been clearly evident in the recruiting process.

“He’s definitely going for guys he really likes,” Garcia said. “He’s really into the recruiting. He’s not going to recruit somebody who doesn’t love tennis, who’s not going to play for four years. In the past, we’ve had guys who haven’t played for all four years, who haven’t really wanted to play. He wants kids who want to be there, who are going to fight, who are going to want to play for Brown.”

As good as the numbers look for Bruno, the team still has a lot of work to do to compete against a very talented Ivy League. Last year, in Koniecko’s first go-around as coach, the Bears wound up in 7th place. But with talented players like Litsky and Walker joining the mix, they are hoping to build a foundation that will lead to greater success in the future.

“Within the next four years, our goal should be to contend for an Ivy League title,” Walker said. “From the improvement I saw from last year to this year, we are definitely improving, and I think we’ll have a good shot at a title in the next four years.”

Before welcoming next year’s recruits, the Bears still have the 2016 season to focus on, which will continue this weekend when they take on Binghamton and Quinnipiac at home.