The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Rodecap’s value of family goes beyond the sport of tennis

%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29
(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Tennis is widely known as an individual sport, but for Marquette’s director of tennis, Steve Rodecap, it’s all about one thing: family.

“He really brought us in as his family,” former men’s tennis player Brett Meyers said. “Whether you were playing No. 1 singles or you were not in the lineup that day, he really truly cared about who you were as a person and would be always asking about your personal life.” 

Former player and current women’s associate coach Dusan Medan, a Serbian native, said that Rodecap’s genuine care for him is what made him want to play at Marquette.

“Number one, he took an interest in me as a person, which I appreciate and value most about him,” Medan said. “Especially being an international student, you look up to your coach and you’re looking for guidance. That made me a lot more comfortable not only being at Marquette but also playing for Marquette.”

Men’s associate head coach Jud Shaufler said that Rodecap’s value of relationships extends beyond the tennis court.

“He takes it very seriously and very personally to provide a good experience for the guys coming in,” Shaufler said. “If they ever run into any difficulties, he’s very good with being there for them. That’s always been a real impressive thing about him.” 

In Shaufler’s first season with the Golden Eagles back in 2011, one of their international men’s players suffered a serious back injury. Rodecap remained by his side throughout the whole process.

“His parents felt really good that Steve was right there for the operations,” Shaufler said. “It’s like having a parent in a home away from home.”   

Meyers, who suffered a knee injury in his first fall season at Marquette, said that he appreciated how Rodecap kept him connected to the team during that difficult time.

“Rodecap was very adamant about keeping me on court, making sure I was involved in all the drills, whether that was picking up the balls, feeding balls, watching some of my seniors play,” Meyers said. “That was awesome for him to really push me to be involved as much as I could.”

Rodecap has not only been involved with the men’s team. In the 2020-21 season, Rodecap took on the title of head women’s coach after former head coach Jody Bronson retired.

When senior women’s player Elisabeth Desmarais was recruited, Rodecap was not her head coach at the time, but he still came to watch one of her tournaments in Canada. 

“That really marked me that he watched my matches and came to talk to me,” Desmarais said. “I could see that it was more than just his team, the men’s team, he really cared about us. You could tell that he was really involved with our team and really cared about the program.” 

Desmarais said that Rodecap’s transition to coaching both teams was smooth due to how much he was already involved with the women.

“The year before that, he actually would come to our practice pretty much every day,” Desmarais said. “At that time, he was not our head coach and he would still take the time — two hours of his day — to just stand there. He would obviously let Jody and Dusan do the work, but he was just there as moral support.” 

Demarais said with both teams getting out to rocky starts this season, Rodecap’s experience has been the factor that has gotten them through the adversity.

“We started off our season so bad and he believed in us,” Desmarais said. “The fact that he kept pushing us and making us feel like he had confidence in us is why we’re now coming back. Over those 20 years, he learned that sometimes you have to keep pushing. He does a great job at it.” 

Meyers, who is tied for fifth in all-time singles wins, said without Rodecap’s unwavering belief in him from the beginning, he would not have been as successful as he was.

“He really took a gamble on me,” Meyers said. “I wasn’t a highly recruited player, not many Division I teams were interested in me, but for some reason, he let me on the team and pushed me with my injury to practice in the offseason and get myself closer to playing. I don’t think I would have nearly had the career I did if Rodecap didn’t believe in me much more than I actually believed in myself.” 

Medan said Rodecap’s impact on Marquette has gone far beyond tennis and that his passion for his players is what will define the culture of the programs for years to come.

“He’s been a really good mentor for these kids on and off the court,” Medan said. “This is his second family and his family is really high on his priority list. He’s an amazing tennis coach, but before all of that, it’s hard to neglect his passion for these kids and their long-term success and development as human beings. We don’t only coach tennis here. He is their coach for life.” 

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *