May 26, 2004
The Santa Clara University men's tennis team recently completed its season under second-year head coach George Husack. Season highlights include:
The Broncos once again faced a very strong schedule, with 14 matches against nationally-ranked teams. Opponents' highest ITA rankings are in parentheses: Washington (10), Arizona State (20) and Oregon (44) from the Pac-10; Fresno State (30) and Boise State (32) from the WAC; San Diego State (42) and New Mexico (56) from the Mountain West; and West Coast Conference rival San Diego (27). Additionally, Santa Clara faced 10 teams that qualified for their respective NCAA Regional championships.
Santa Clara made its mark in the ITA singles and doubles rankings throughout the season. Senior Gernot Fischer registered the highest individual singles national ranking in program history, debuting at No. 81 in early March and vaulting to No. 54 by the end of the month. This mark was more than 50 spots ahead of the previous high recorded in 2002. Fischer also teamed with junior Eric Kochanski to record the highest regional (9th) and national (49th) doubles rankings in program annals, after becoming the first Bronco tandem to reach an ITA regional championship, upsetting teams from Washington and Oregon en route to the final.
The Broncos said goodbye to seniors Erich Chen, Gernot Fischer and Rick Ruso. All three made significant contributions to the program and placed themselves in the record books. Chen finished as the all-time singles and doubles victory leader. The two-time team captain broke the singles mark on March 10 with his 67th career win, clinching a team victory against conference foe, San Francisco, and closes his career with 72. In doubles, Chen recorded three victories at the WCC Championship to claim the top spot with 63 career wins. Fischer led the Broncos in singles and doubles despite having spent only one season on the mission campus. He is now ranked fourth in single-season singles victories (23) and tied for second for his single-season efforts in doubles (20). Ruso, voted team captain for unprecedented fourth year, did not participate in tournament and match play due to injury. A nationally-ranked doubles player two seasons ago, Ruso played an instrumental role in player and team development.
Several other Broncos made an impact this year. Juniors Francisco Zepponi and Taylor Bedilion recorded double-digit victories for a third consecutive season and find themselves within striking distance of the top singles records. Zepponi is tied for fourth place on the all-time list with 60 victories, only 12 wins shy of Erich Chen's new mark. Right on Zepponi's heels, Bedilion is tied for seventh all-time with his 56 career wins. Freshmen Kevin McQuaid and Bobby Rasmussen kicked off their Bronco careers in fine fashion. McQuaid captured singles and doubles titles at the Pacific Tiger Fall Classic in his collegiate debut, recorded 18 singles victories and moved up from the No. 6 singles position to as high as the No. 3 slot during the year. Rasmussen teamed with McQuaid for the doubles championship at Pacific and recorded 10 wins in his first 11 dual matches. Most notable were victories over opponents from nationally-ranked teams Arizona State, San Diego State and Pacific.
Santa Clara hosted the 2004 West Coast Conference Championship at the Degheri Tennis Center. The Broncos opened the tournament with a 4-1 victory over Saint Mary's, giving them a third win on the season over the Gaels. Santa Clara then moved onto the semifinals and fell 4-3 to WCC rival San Diego. For the eighth consecutive year, the conference honored the men's tennis program with All-WCC honors. Gernot Fischer was a first-team singles selection, while Kevin McQuaid received honorable mention accolades. Erich Chen earned his second career All-WCC doubles award, teaming with Fischer for honorable mention recognition.
The Broncos continued their solid performance in the classroom recording a team grade point average among the top three Santa Clara men's teams and top five overall. Five players were named Bronco Scholar-Athletes of the Week and are eligible for post-season conference and national honors. These individuals are seniors Erich Chen and Gernot Fischer, juniors Taylor Bedilion and Ben Hidalgo, and freshman Bobby Rasmussen.
The Broncos received the USTA/ITA Community Service Award for their significant contributions in developing community-based tennis programs. The team hosted free youth clinics and successfully implemented an after-school program for local, low-income, middle school children. Santa Clara was one of only seven award winners, while more than 2,000 institutions were eligible for the honor.