PHILADELPHIA The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced its preseason rankings this week and Penn was represented by Hicham Laalej, who earned a ranking of 105.
Laalej, a junior transfer from Stetson University, went 27-5 last season playing for the Hatters in the #1 and #2 positions. He had two wins over high ranked opponents victories over #50 Lucas Jovita of South Florida and #54 Marek Sramek of South Alabama. Laalej finished his two-year stint at Stetson with an overall singles record of 50-9.
A native of Meknes, Morroco, was ranked as high as second in his native country and achieved a ranking of 297 in the world junior rankings.
“Hicham is an outstanding player,” head coach Nik DeVore said. “He is also a good student and was looking to challenge himself further as a student-athlete. He found a place to meet those challenges in Penn, and we are extremely happy to have him join our team.”
With his preseason ranking, Laalej earned an automatic entry into the ITA All-American Championships that will be held in Tulsa, Okla. in October. The All-American is one of the largest and most competitive college tournaments in the country.
“Playing in the All-American is a great opportunity for Hicham,” DeVore said. “If he plays well in Tulsa, it will be a great momentum boost for the team heading into the regular season.”
The Quakers begin their fall season at the USTA Intercollegiate in Flushing Meadow, N.Y. on Sept. 18.