Fall Kick-Off for Men's Tennis

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Oct. 16, 2002

The Santa Clara University men's tennis team finished its fourth week of the fall season this past weekend under a new regime -- new head coach George Husack and assistants Brett Masi and Marcell Hlousek. For the last two seasons Rick Ruso has been team captain of Santa Clara Men's Tennis. Last year, he put his name in the men's tennis history books as the first-ever Bronco to achieve a national ranking in doubles. A redshirt junior from Visalia, Calif., Ruso recently took time out to reflect on the first half of the fall for the Broncos.

Our season officially began a month ago (one week prior to the beginning of school) with the annual team bonding session in beautifully scenic Lake Tahoe, Nevada. This was an opportunity for all of us to catch up on our summer activities, lay down some goals and expectations for the season and find out what the new coaching staff had in store for us this year. Additionally, we also got to know our newest assistant coach, Brett Masi, who had only been introduced to all of us a few days before the Tahoe adventure.

The rest of the team was definitely familiar with each other as we all had spent at least one full season together. Nonetheless, it was fun to hear what went on over the summer and what we planned on accomplishing this year. The post-dinner bonding sessions seemed to be the most notable as we found out more data on the coaches and their interests... like ground beef vs. ground turkey, toe rings, Mach 3 razors -- all very intriguing.

One of the longest sessions was nailing down our practice schedule. The coaches and players somehow managed to sift through everyone's class commitments and develop a solid practice plan. A quick side note... Erich Chen recently confided in me that he really does love the 7 a.m. conditioning and that he's only joking when he's passed out in the bleachers before jogging and stretching.

Following a productive two days of goal setting and high altitude running, we were in better mental and physical shape and had some serious direction for the upcoming season. We were all very excited to get the show on the road and begin working with the new staff.

Double day practices consumed the rest of the week as we grinded through hours of hitting tennis ball after tennis ball. Classes began the following Monday and it was official -- summer was over. The hours of practice were cut down a bit now that we were in school as studying and socializing were now a part of our workweek.

Since that time, our practices have maintained a high level of intensity and passion that has had a tremendous effect on everyone's game. The sweat and grind of each week has been sustained by subtle reminders of our season goals, as well as trips to the training room for whirlpool dips and bags of ice to ease a few aches and pains.

Off the courts, we have made several appearances at Bronco athletic events to support our teams and defend the Team Spirit Award we won in 2002. Most notable was a team dinner following a women's soccer game with assistant coach Marcell "The Body" Hlousek. Known for showing off his muscles, the Body posed for a delightful shirtless photo with our food server -- yeah Body!

We've also had several recruits visit campus that we'd love to have on our team next year. Our first visitor flew in from Colorado for the first weekend of school. We all had a great time with him as we ventured on and off campus for a taste of Broncoland. In return, we received a taste of trail mix that was grubbed up pretty quickly.

The second weekend brought us a pair of buddies from Southern California. Once again, both solid guys and great fits for our program. Lots of sunshine, a tasty barbecue and the Rally Monkey consumed most of the weekend as our SoCal visitors were rooting for the Angels to send the Yankees back home to New York.

Other news and tidbits include Benny's (Ben Hidalgo) hair being red -- anyone shocked? Guga (Federico Mattioli) successfully makes his 26-mile trek to campus everyday on his Argentinean beach cruiser with only one wipeout thus far. Ruthie (Mike Bruggemann) is recovering from deep depression from losing two games while representing the University of Hawaii Rainbows on his Sony Play Station college football game. T (Taylor Bedilion) is getting healthy and making sure his sandwiches are just right... "you don't understand". TB2 (Ted Blosser) is getting ready for his Enrique Iglessias weekend... are you kidding me? Air-Rich (Erich Chen) continues to surprise us with his non-fashionable tennis wear. Pooch (Francisco Zepponi) has moved his hairstyle into the John Vest pretty category. And I'm taking yoga and ballet classes (um, what?) and noticing tremendous improvements in my tennis game and self-esteem.

That's the update so far. We'll see you at our Bronco Invitational November 8-10 as the USF Dons and Fresno State Bulldogs bring their teams to Our House. Go Broncos!