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Salpointe star will play at North Carolina

Salpointe Catholic High School now has a splash of powder blue roaming its halls.

On Saturday afternoon, the school’s star tennis player Cameron Ahari gave a verbal commitment to play tennis at the University of North Carolina next year. On Monday, he wore a brand new UNC Tar Heels t-shirt to school.

“I ordered a bunch of UNC gear online on Sunday, too,” said Ahari, who chose to don the powder blue of UNC over offers from the University of Southern California, Michigan, Pepperdine and Illinois, among others.

Ranked No. 1 in the USTA’s Southwest Section 18-and-under rankings for the better part of the past year (he dropped to No. 2 last month when he stopped competing to take recruiting trips), Ahari said he chose UNC because he
feels it gives him the best chance to become a professional player.

“I wanted to have an immediate impact and I think I have a strong chance at winning that the No. 5 or 6 spot right away at UNC,” Ahari said. “But I also think the coaching there – the head coach Sam Paul is great and their
assistant, Tripp Phillips, is ranked real high in the ATP doubles rankings. I think they give me a good shot at getting where I want to go.”

Phillips, a former US Open doubles semifinalist, did the primary recruiting on Ahari and was a former All American at UNC.

UNC finished the 2007 spring season ranked No. 10 in the country, one spot behind USC.

Ahari said he has not yet made a decision on whether he will play with Salpointe this spring. Some college coaches ask recruits to back off of playing their senior years after making a commitment, but he said he has not yet had such a discussion with the UNC staff. Ahari helped lead the Lancers
to Class 5A Division I state team championship last spring by playing in the No. 1 spot in the title match. He said he wants to let his teammates and Salpointe boys tennis coach John Condes know whether he’ll be on the team “as soon as possible,” despite the season not starting until March.

Ahari joins Tristany and Kirsten Leikem, seniors at Flowing Wells who have won three state doubles championships, as local tennis phenoms to recently
make verbal commitments. The Leikem sisters, who are twins, earlier this month gave verbal commitments to accept scholarship offers from the University of Rhode Island.

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