Nov. 10, 2010
WACO, Texas - Baylor received signed National Letters of Intent from Lars Behlen and Mate Zsiga to play tennis for the Bears, head coach Matt Knoll announced Wednesday.
"I think the thing that is exciting about both these players is that they are big, dynamic, athletic guys with just tremendous desire and work ethic," Knoll said. "I think they are going to be just unbelievably valuable to our program over the next few years. These guys are very good students and that is part of the reason we are excited about them. We know they are going to fit in great with what we are trying to do with Baylor tennis."
Lars Behlen (pronounced Bay-len) is an 18-year-old left-hander from Munster, Germany, who is currently ranked 80th in the German men's rankings. He won the German National Championship in the 16 and under division, but then suffered an injury that kept him out of tennis for an extended period. Behlen is the son of Hans-Jurgen and Gudrun Behlen.
"Lars is kind of a neat story," Knoll said. "Before his injury he really felt like he was on track to try to pursue pro tennis, but in his time off his ranking kind of fell off the charts and he wasn't as highly recruited as he should have been. We were fortunate that our knowledge of Germany allowed us to recognize that he was a guy that would play at a high level in college and beyond."
Behlen joins other Baylor tennis greats Benjamin Becker, Benedikt Dorsch, Lars Poerschke and Dominik Mueller, as Germans who have played for Knoll.
Mate Zsiga (pronounced Mah-tay Zhig-uh) is an 18-year-old from Szeged, Hungary, who currently is ranked as the 15th-best junior by the International Tennis Federation. In 2008, Zsiga was listed as the top player in the 16 and under division by the European Tennis Association. He ascended to an ITF rank of No. 7 on April 12, 2010, after winning two ITF tournaments and finishing as the runner up in another during the first three months of this year. Zsiga is the son of Dr. Laszlo and Edit Zsiga with his father serving as his coach.
"Mate is a superior athlete," Knoll said. "He is incredibly eager, incredibly active. I think he competes really hard. He practices hard. He has a real commitment to being as good as he can be in all areas. I am incredibly impressed with his character and his desire and just everything he is going to bring to the table for us."
Zsiga, also continues a long line of Baylor greats who hail from Hungary including Zoltan Papp, Csonger Bibza and four-time All-American Denes Lukacs.