Men's tennis adds international and local players
July 18, 2013
The Montana men's tennis team added a pair of incoming freshmen to its 2013-14 roster recently. Peter Mimnagh-Fleming, of Navan, Ireland, signed a National Letter of Intent; Alex Braun, of Missoula, accepted admissions to the university and will join his brother Eric on coach Kris Nord's squad.
Mimnagh-Fleming (MEE-nah) is a graduate of Blackrock College Boarding School and a multiple-time national champion. He won the Irish Junior Open singles title in 2009 and doubles titles in 2009, '11 and '12.
He was also the runner-up in singles at Irish National Indoors in both 2011 and '12 and at the 2012 Irish Junior Open.
"I'm really excited about Peter," said Nord, who is entering his 32nd year at Montana. "He's a big kid, 6-foot-3 and still growing, and already has a very powerful game. There is a really big upside to him in college once he grows into his body.
"He's one of the top kids in Ireland, and he got along with the guys real well when he and his father came over and visited last February. I think he's going to be a good fit for us. He's also a very good student, so I'm excited about that too."
Nord and Mimnagh-Fleming had an electronic relationship until last winter, when the player and his father visited the U.S.
"Peter was planning on coming over to the States to visit some schools, and he emailed me and expressed some interest in the University of Montana," Nord said.
"I looked at his video on YouTube and saw a really powerful, sound player, so we started communicating. We were one of three schools he and his father visited, and they loved Missoula and the university."
Mimnagh-Fleming, who fittingly was born on March 17, also visited Illinois State and William & Mary on his college tour. Neither could knock Montana from atop his list.
"I am delighted to be joining the UM tennis program and eager to get started," Mimnagh-Fleming wrote Wednesday. "My decision was influenced by my visit to Missoula to meet Kris and the team and to see the area.
"I fell in love with the place and the people straight away and knew it was the university for me. I was also impressed with the tennis program and the facilities available to the players. It was clear that the tennis program is highly regarded at the university, which is important to me.
"I wanted to play American college tennis because I feel it is the best way to improve your tennis whilst continuing your education. Also, tennis is a very individual sport, but the American college tennis system is based on the team environment, which is great as it makes it more enjoyable."
Mimnagh-Fleming, who was selected to the Irish Junior Science Olympiad after finishing in the top 100 in Ireland in math and science in the Junior Certificate State Examinations, is "very interested in business and would like to major in something along the lines of accountancy or finance."
Braun, a 2013 graduate of Hellgate High, was a key member of the Knights' state championship teams in 2010, '11 and '12 and Class AA runner-up squad in 2013.
The Braun brothers, then a senior and freshman at the prep level, won the state doubles title in 2010. The junior Braun placed fourth in singles at the 2011 state tournament, second in 2012 and third in May.
Each year he was knocked out of the winners' bracket by Glacier High's Kellen Bates, the four-time Class AA state champion.
Braun last week advanced to the title match of the Western Montana Open in Missoula.
"Alex is probably the second-best kid in the state behind Kellen Bates, and I think his best tennis is still ahead of him," Nord said. "He's a big kid as well, 6-foot-2. I think he's going to surprise some people.
"He had a chance to go play out of state and get some aid, but he chose to stay with us and work toward earning something down the road."
On Nord's eight-player fall roster, he will have five seniors, sophomore Semion Branzburg and now two incoming freshmen. To give more balance to his roster, Nord will likely add one or two more players between semesters in January.
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