May 5, 2003
The Santa Clara University men's tennis team recently completed its season under first-year head coach George Husack. With just eight players on this year's squad, the Broncos gained valuable experience and accomplished several goals throughout the year. Season highlights include:
The Broncos faced one of its strongest schedules to date, competing against 11 nationally-ranked opponents. Included in that group are No. 12 Washington, 32nd-ranked Arizona State and No. 34 Arizona from the Pac-10; Boise State (35) and Fresno State (41) from the WAC; and West Coast Conference rival Pepperdine, ranked 26th. The Broncos earned two victories over ranked opposition, shutting out No. 71 Air Force and defeating No. 70 Pacific. The Broncos faced nine teams who qualified for the NCAA Regional, defeating Big Sky champions Sacramento State.
Seniors Michael Bruggemann and Federico Mattioli made their marks in the program's record books prior to finishing their careers on the mission campus. Co-captain and All-WCC doubles performer Bruggemann broke the all-time doubles victory record with a win over Bryce Cooper and Drew Ernst of Gonzaga on April 12. He now sits atop all Broncos with 61 career doubles victories and considered one of the best doubles players ever at Santa Clara. Teamed with Erich Chen at the No. 1 position, Bruggemann's 19 doubles team victories in 2003 tied a single-season record he set back in 2001 (with Ryan Livesay).
Federico Mattioli shared time in the No. 2-4 singles positions and pushed his career singles victory total to 60, good for fourth place all-time. His 38 career doubles victories places him among the top-10 all-time victory leaders. His14-6 doubles record with Taylor Bedilion places him among the top-10 single-season leaders, while their .700 winning percentage ranks third all-time.
Junior co-captain Erich Chen and sophomore Taylor Bedilion received All-WCC honorable mention honors in singles, marking the fifth consecutive year the Bronco program had student-athletes honored. Chen moved from the fourth singles position of a year ago to the No. 1 slot and posted a 19-17 overall singles record. Of his 19 singles victories, his defeat of 71st-ranked Shannon Buck of Air Force was rather notable, as it was Buck's only loss on his 26-1 dual match season. In doubles, Chen anchored the No. 1 position and posted 21 total combined victories, a new single-season record, eclipsing Bruggemann's 20 combined victories in 2001. Chen defeated two ranked doubles teams, including No. 38 Marcus Berntson and Guillaume Bouvier of Boise State. An honors computer engineering major, Chen was named an Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar for the second straight year and was nominated for the Regional and National ITA Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship and Leadership Award and National ITA/Osuna Sportsmanship Award.
Taylor Bedilion moved up from his No. 6 singles position of a year ago and split time between Nos. 3 and 4. He led all Broncos with 21 singles victories, the fifth-best win total in the Bronco record books. An All-WCC singles honoree, Bedilion posted a 21-12 overall record despite having an injury-shortened fall season. Notable victories included Chris Steward of No. 32 Arizona State and Greg Shearer of No. 41 Fresno State.
Freshman Ted Blosser made his mark in the Bronco tennis annals when he captured his first dual match victory on March 15 with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Brendan Cunningham of Gonzaga. He faced Cunningham at the WCC Championship on April 12 and defeated him again 6-0, 6-0.
Several Broncos find themselves within striking distance of breaking singles and doubles records. In career singles victories, Erich Chen now has 61 total and is only six wins shy of breaking the all-time mark set by Scott Watters from 1997 to 2000. Sophomores Francisco Zepponi and Taylor Bedilion are not far behind Chen as their respective 44 and 40 singles victories come after only two seasons at Santa Clara. In career doubles, Chen's 49 victories is good for seventh place and only 13 victories short of breaking Michael Bruggemann's all-time record. Redshirt junior Rick Ruso now has 40 total doubles victories that will place him among the all-time leaders following his senior year.
During the fall tournament season, the Broncos fared well in individual competition. The Broncos top doubles team of Michael Bruggemann and Erich Chen captured the UOP Tiger Fall Classic while reaching the finals of the Fresno State Bulldog Classic. Chen also claimed the consolation singles tournament title in Fresno, while Taylor Bedilion was a runner-up in the ITA Regional singles consolation final.
Throughout the season, the men's tennis team excelled in the classroom, as their 3.32 grade point average during the fall quarter was the top mark among all Santa Clara men's teams and second overall among all 17 Bronco sports programs (women's tennis was No. 1 overall). During the winter quarter, men's tennis ranked No. 3 among the men's teams and was once again one of nine teams to record a GPA of 3.0 or better. Erich Chen, Rick Ruso, redshirt sophomore Ben Hidalgo and Taylor Bedilion were voted Bronco Scholar-Athletes of the Week during the season. Given their academic success, the Broncos will be nominated for the ITA All-Academic Team Award following the spring quarter. This award is given to teams that record a cumulative grade point average above 3.2 for the year. Hidalgo, Chen and Ruso will be nominated for the ITA Scholar-Athlete Award, an honor given to those student-athletes that garner a 3.5 cumulative grade point average. The Broncos will wait for All-Academic awards issued by the West Coast Conference at the end of May.