April 16, 2007

Men's tennis inspired by Jim Jones' 'ballin'

April 12, 2007

Orginally published in The Santa Clara on April 12.

The Santa Clara

The men's tennis team has turned to Jim Jones' popular rap song "We Fly High" for inspiration this season.

The song, more commonly known for its catch phrase, "ballin," has served as somewhat of a metaphor for the Broncos this season as they continue on their quest for an NCAA tournament berth.

"You just know that guys are going to be out there 'ballin,' " said Head Coach George Husack. "And that is kind of our theme song this season."

The Broncos are off to their best start since 2002, when they finished with a final national ranking of No. 71 and were ranked as high as No. 55.

Santa Clara is currently ranked No. 68, but has been ranked as high as No. 59 this season and currently boasts a 16-6 overall record.

"I think the team this year is pretty similar to the team that was ranked No. 55," said Husack. "The main similarity is that everyone came to practice with a purpose, and everyone came to match day not wanting to lose."

The Broncos started the season with four main goals. The first was to achieve a national ranking, which they have accomplished. The second was to record a winning record on the road, which the Broncos have achieved, as they have won five of their nine away games.

Still, the Broncos aim to reach the WCC tournament final and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament, which Husack says is still possible.

"Our goal is to play Pepperdine in the WCC final," said Husack. "We will most likely have to get past San Diego, but I think it is completely possible given what we have done this season."

Should both the Broncos and the Waves make the WCC tournament final, they would be playing for a chance at competing in the NCAA tournament. If the Broncos were to beat Pepperdine, they would reach the tournament automatically. However, if Santa Clara were to lose, they would have to rely on their national ranking as the only possible chance at making the tournament.

"We have beat some good teams this year that are ranked ahead of us," said Husack. "As long as those teams keep winning and we keep improving, we could have a chance at making the tournament."

The Broncos defeated a BYU team that had been ranked as high as No. 57. That same BYU team also defeated the current No. 50-ranked Stanford. The Broncos lost to Stanford this season 4-3 in a tough battle on the road. Still, Husack remains positive about his team and the leadership provided by the older players.

"I think having everyone back from last year is a huge help this year," said Husack.

The Broncos returned all of their starters from last year and also added a powerful freshman in Jay Wong, who has won 27 matches this season.

"It helps to have the older guys like Jan Macek, Bobby Rasmussen and Kevin McQuaid because it doesn't put as much pressure on the younger guys to have to perform," said Husack.

The Broncos went 14-15 last season and struggled to find any rhythm as they relied heavily on contributions from younger players. Husack describes last season as more of a learning year, and is excited to see how the rest of the current season turns out.

"It has been a really healthy balance of older and younger this season," said Husack. "Everyone has stepped up in some way to perform in some way this year."

The Broncos' next match will be against Nevada at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 13, at the Degheri Tennis Center.