Bronco Netters Earn Professional Checks

Aug. 11, 2005

By Ann Miller
Honolulu Advertiser

KAILUA, Hawai'i -- On an offbeat tennis night when rallies were rare and mis-hits common and sometimes comical, Michael Bruggemann and Erich Chen stole their second Kailua Racquet Club Men's Night Doubles championship in the last three years.

The former Santa Clara University teammates survived 13 break points against them in the first set last night and went on to a 7-5, 6-2 victory over fifth-seeded Chris Lam and Taylor Bedilion. All four were Broncos when Lam was a freshman, playing No. 1 singles. He took his game to UCLA the final three years, closing his career on the Bruins' NCAA Championship team last spring.

Lam and Bedilion, who is from San Anselmo, Calif., collected their first professional paychecks last night, sharing $1,600. Bruggemann and Chen, from San Jose, got a $2,400 check.

"I feel very old and very lucky," said Bruggemann, the eldest at 25. "I don't know how I held my serve."

He faced nine break points and wiggled out of each one in the first set. Sometimes Lam and Bedilion got sloppy. Others, they were unlucky off the tape or over-ruled by the umpire. Chen muscled through a few of his four break points with huge serves.

"You just play them one at a time," said Bruggemann, a 1998 Punahou graduate who won the state doubles championship his senior year. "We got a little lucky and believed in ourselves, I guess."

The biggest, and weirdest, break point came with Chen down 30-40. His serve to Bedilion was called good by the linesperson and umpire, but "out" by Bedilion, who reverted to his college habit of calling his own lines. Bedilion's return went in, but the point was stopped and awarded to Chen because of Bedilion's outburst.

"That was huge," Chen said. "I think it took something out of them. It was there dangling in front of them and got snatched away."

One big serve and a rare vicious Bruggemann volley -- "I didn't hit anything on the strings tonight," he claimed later -- tied the set at 5. The champs proceeded to break Bedilion -- who hadn't lost a service point until then -- the next game. They had three break chances in that game, and none the rest of the set.

Lam and Bedilion would get four more against Bruggemann in the final game. He erased the first three himself and Bedilion hit long on the fourth.

"It was our set to win and we couldn't close it out," said Lam, 22, who grew up in Kaimuki and was home-schooled. "It was a good job of them hanging in there."

Lam and Bedilion, who made the 35th annual Night Doubles their first, couldn't conjure up a rally after that disappointment. Lam's serve, which hadn't been broken the entire tournament, was broken twice in the final set.

"We felt like we should have won that set and we couldn't come back," Lam admitted. "Taylor played well but I feel like I kind of let down in the second set."

Bruggemann said he thought he and Chen's extra years might have helped. "We're a little bit wiser in our old age," he said. "I was feeling old out there. We won ugly today."

Malino Oda and Johnny Rosetti won the inaugural third-place match, 8-6, over Wei-Yu Su and Art Lambert, who substituted for Jim Somerville last night. Oda and Rosetti shared $1,000.

Lam won the annual Peter Isaak Sportsmanship Award. The tournament donated $2,000 to the Mike MacKinnon Fund.