Women’s tennis will rely on experience, men on talented underclassmen

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This year’s Marquette men’s and women’s tennis teams have their season set to begin with the Milwaukee Tennis Classic this weekend. Both teams are ready for the challenges this season will bring but each team’s strategy for success differ based on the experience of its players.

The women’s team returns all of its starters from last year along with some new talent. Their age is to their advantage as they look to improve on last year’s overall record of 13-14 including a 9-1 record at home.

Junior Gillian Hush was the Golden Eagles’ Most Valuable Player and Most Improved Player in 2009 with an overall record of 27-12 and will once again look to lead the team towards a Big East Championship.

The duo of senior captains Christina Ruiz and Rachael Hush will also look to build on its fantastic performance last season when the two tallied a 24-6 doubles record including an undefeated showing in last year’s Classic.

“We have a really deep team,” said Hush. “I think everyone’s excited to play this year.”

Head coach Jody Bronson enters her 26th season at the helm and sees a lot of potential in this year’s squad.

“Our number one goal is to be in that Big East Championship game,” Bronson said. “If we stay healthy, we can be even stronger than we were last year.”

Bronson, though confident, is well aware of the improvements her team must make to reach their ultimate goal.

“We need to work on playing the right point at the right time, as well as playing aggressively to dictate each match,” Bronson said.

The men’s team finished with a 16-6 record last year and looks to a more youthful 2010 squad to lead the way this season.

The team loses talents such as Dusan Medan and Mark Rutherford, but returns two of 2009’s top performers in sophomore Otavio Perim and junior Drake Kakar.

Perim was Marquette’s Most Improved Player last year, finishing with an overall single’s record of 18-14. Kakar tallied a record of 14-5 including a 5-1 record in dual match play.

Steve Rodecap looks to evaluate his young roster during his eighth year as the men’s head coach. He hopes to strengthen his team with the experience that comes with each match in preparation for the conference tournament.

“Our goal is to be the best team we can be for the tournament,” said Rodecap. “We’re still trying to evaluate our younger guys, but the more matches we play the better we’re going to get.”

Leadership for the Golden Eagles this season will not come from any particular individual as Rodecap anticipates a more concentrated team effort will be the key to success.

“We’re a little younger this year, so we’ll look to have leadership by committee,” Rodecap said.

Marquette’s play in the Classic begins Friday and will continue throughout the weekend.

The men will open with a singles match against Ball State at 1 p.m. followed by a doubles match at 3 p.m versus Northwestern.

The women will take on Wisconsin at 1 p.m. in a doubles match followed by a singles match at 3 p.m. against Western Michigan.

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