Beyond Their Years
April 19, 2001
By BRIAN ELSNER
The Santa Clara Sports Editor
The men's tennis team has not always been successful, earning their first national ranking only last season. Yet with a combination of talented underclassmen and experienced upperclassmen, the men's tennis team has become one of the nation's better tennis teams. Composed of four freshman, one red shirt freshman, four sophomores, one junior and one senior, the Broncos are poised to make a run at another national ranking.
"Age really doesn't come into play for us," freshman Erich Chen said. "While the freshman are still treated like freshman, everyone helps each other out and we all try to play at a high level regardless of age."
With a red shirt freshman and a sophomore as captains, age truly does not seem to matter to the Broncos. Sophomore Ryan Livesay and redshirt freshman Rick Ruso may not play together on the court, but off the court, the duo leads their teammates with their heart and determination. "At times when the coaches aren't around, Ryan [Livesay] and Rick [Ruso] keep us motivated and fired up," sophomore Michael Bruggemann said.
Livesay recently moved up to the No. 1 position in singles action and has played No. 1 doubles with fellow sophomore Michael Bruggeman all year long. Yet no matter where he plays in the order, Livesay finds success. With senior Matt Cox injured, Livesay found himself playing primarily at the No. 1 singles spot and playing well.
"Ryan [Livesay] played real well," sophomore Adam Lewis said. "It just shows that even sophomores can go out and lead the team. Anybody on the team, whether it is a senior or a sophomore, can step it up for us."
Including a tough loss to the number seven player in the nation (7-6, 7-6), Livesay posted a 4-3 record as the Bronco number one seed since Cox's injury. Even when Livesay loses, the rest of the Santa Clara team is there to pick up the slack including junior Victor Camargo.
After growing up in Mexico and playing two seasons at Modesto Junior College, Camargo came to Santa Clara to further his tennis career. Thus far Camargo has been extremely successful, posting an 11-5 singles record playing mostly at the number three and four spots. While Camargo is an upperclassman on the team, his presence is felt more on the court than off the court. As the lone senior, Cox provides the vocal presence and the leadership needed for the Broncos.
"Even though he isn't a captain, Matt [Cox] is definitely a leader on the team," Chen said. "When he came back from that injury and we saw him out there competing hard, it made us work harder."
Cox suffered a thumb injury which caused him to miss seven matches before returning for the Pacific match last week. Even with Cox out of the line-up, the Broncos continued to win with the emergence of talented freshman on this year's squad. Both Chen and freshman Michael Duong have achieved great success so far this season in various positions. Duong played mostly at the number three spot this season while posting a 17-10 record in singles play. Chen's singles record stands at 15-13, while also playing solid in doubles action for the Broncos.
"We have a lot of young players that make the future really promising for us," Bruggemann said. "We are looking to do some good things in the future."
The future should be very good for the Broncos with every player returning next season except Cox. Santa Clara isn't ready to look ahead just yet. With a match today against No. 23 Fresno State and the WCC Championships next week, the Broncos are hoping to make some noise at the end of this season.
"We want to make the NCAAs this year," Chen said. "In order to do that we may need to beat Fresno State and then beat San Diego in the WCC tournament."
With a great combination of determination and hard work, the Broncos just may reach their goal of the NCAAs. Yet if they don't make it this year, it won't be for a lack of effort.
"I think for the most part we just compete harder than other teams," Lewis said. "We just have more passion on the court."
Passion and hard work. Sounds like the formula of success for years to come.