AKRON, Ohio -- University of Akron women's tennis head coach Brandon Padgett announced on Friday that Ariadna Blinova, Kati Mdzinarishvili and Diana Perez have committed to join the Zips starting in the fall semester of 2014.
"We are extremely excited to have these three wonderful young ladies join our program," said Padgett. "Their athletic talents will add a different dimension to our team on the court, but they are also successful in the classroom and that is why we are looking forward to welcoming them to Akron."
Blinova, a native of Latvia, was part of the doubles team that won the national championship in her home country in the summer of 2013. She was also a two-time national runner-up in the Under 18 singles division. Blinova captured city championships in Riga, Latvia, as the Under 18 singles winner in 2013 and was the top player in the all-ages category in 2012. As an Under 16 player in 2010, Blinova won the Viljandi Open in Estonia, taking top honors in the main draw.
"Ariadna is such a bright young lady with immense talent on and off the tennis court. Academically, she is extremely smart, with an excellent understanding of what she wants out of her college experience, and the direction that she will go. Athletically, we feel that Ariadna will make an immediate impact on our team, with an all-court style of play that will be tough to beat," Padgett said.
"I chose The University of Akron because it has a wide range of engineering specialties that I am interested in, and my dream is to become a world standard civil engineer," Blinova said. "I like the location of the university and I am very excited to play for Coach Padgett."
Mdzinarishvili, a native of nearby Hudson, Ohio, played her prep career at Hudson High School, where her team was a four-time Northeast Ohio Conference champion. She advanced to the district tournament all four years, and qualified for the OHSAA state tournament as a sophomore.
"Kati is a local player that has a huge upside to her," Padgett said. "We were very excited when she decided to commit to Akron for multiple reasons. We love having a local player on the team, and we see great potential in Kati. Her work ethic and talent will present her with many great opportunities to succeed here at Akron. Kati's commitment to her game and to her academics is why we wanted her here so badly."
"I chose Akron because as soon as I met my coaches and teammates I felt right at home," Mdzinarishvili said. "The campus was beautiful and everything I looked for in a school, and I knew right away that this was where I needed to be."
Perez is a junior college transfer from ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., originally hailing from Miami, Fla. In 2013, Perez led ASA to a second place finish at the NJCAA tournament, advancing to the semifinal round in singles, and the team was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country during the season. She was part of the first doubles team that earned Second Team All-American honors. Prior to her junior college career, Perez advanced to the Florida state tournament for four years at Miami Senior High School. She finished her high school career in 2011 with a national ranking of 132, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
"Diana is a powerful player, with ball striking capabilities that will take her far here at Akron," said Padgett. "She has a very dangerous game that with our instruction and her commitment will produce a potent player who will have an immediate impact in both the singles and doubles line-up. Additionally, Diana's personality is a perfect fit with us as coaches, and we know that she will gel nicely with the team."
"I feel like I have a bright future at The University of Akron," said Perez. "I am confident my talents will fit with the tennis program here, and I am looking forward to studying toward my law degree."
Blinova, Mdzinarishvili and Perez join early signee Sophia Geier (Burgebrach, Germany) to make up the 2014 signing class for the Zips.