Rush, Nuggets begin fall season with four new tennis signees

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NEW ORLEANS — Alan Green, Xavier University of Louisiana’s director of tennis, announced Wednesday four signees for the 2017-18 academic year along with his teams’ 2017 fall schedule.

The Gold Rush, NAIA national runner-up in 2016 and 2017, signed three:

• Chris Anders, a junior from Baton Rouge, La., and a transfer from Tyler (Texas) Junior College. Anders is a 2015 graduate of Parkview Baptist School.
• Samir Chikhaoui, a sophomore from Lille, France, and a transfer from Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school in Cocoa.
• Gabriel Niculescu, a junior from Bucharest, Romania, and a transfer from Troy of NCAA Division I.
The Gold Nuggets’ signee is Manon Bonada, a freshman from Nimes, France. Bonada joins a program that qualified 11 times for the NAIA National Championships, including each of the last six seasons.

XULA will begin its fall schedule Thursday in the HBCU National Championships, a three-day event at College Park, Ga.

Anders helped Tyler finish second last season, one point behind ASA Miami, at the NJCAA Division I National Championships. Last season Anders was named to the Region XIV All-Academic Team, and he and Aaron Westerlund climbed as high as 22nd in the NJCAA doubles rankings. Tyler was 22-0 in dual matches in 2017 and 18-3 in 2016.

Anders was a three-time LHSAA Division III (Class 3A) state singles champion at Parkview Baptist and helped the Eagles win state team championships in 2014 and 2015. His father is longtime tennis pro Ray Anders.

Chikhaoui was a three-time state champion in northern France before helping Eastern Florida finish 11-8 last season, its first as a varsity program. Chikhaoui was NJCAA All-Academic third team.

Niculescu was 11-10 in singles and 5-5 in doubles last season for a Troy team that reached the Sun Belt Conference semifinals. As a freshman at NCAA Division I’s Chicago State in 2016, Niculescu was Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week, ITA Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-WAC. He helped the Cougars earn an ITA Academic Team Award for their stellar cumulative GPA.

Bonada won 20 singles age-group championships in her home country.

XULA majors of the newcomers are mass communications for Anders, marketing for Bonada, finance for Chikhaoui and political science for Niculescu.

Other fall competition will be the ITA NAIA South Regional Championships Sept. 22-24 at Lawrenceville, Ga., the Battle of the Bayou (men only) Oct. 6-7 at Lafayette, La., and a four-team men’s event the first weekend of November at the University of New Orleans. Green said he will add to the fall schedule a third women’s tournament.

This is Green’s 15th season as coach of the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets. He is a three-time ITA NAIA National Coach of the Year, including each of the past two seasons on the men’s side.

Returning letterwinners are junior Pierre Andrieu, senior Catalin Fifea and sophomore Moses Micheal on the men’s team and junior Charlene Goreau and sophomores Lacee Ancar and Yi Chen Pao on the women’s. Fifea and Micheal earned NAIA All-America last season, and Fifea was chosen Louisiana Newcomer of the Year. Goreau was All-America each of her first two seasons.

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