October 3, 2006

Santa Clara Men's Tennis Opens Season By Hosting Bronco Classic

Oct. 3, 2006

Santa Clara, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's tennis team begins play this weekend hosting the third annual Bronco Classic at the Degheri Tennis Center on the campus of the University. Coming off a strong performance in the West Coast Conference last spring, the Broncos are looking to get their 2006 fall season off to a good start. The tournament runs from Friday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 8 with matches beginning at 8:00 a.m. PT every day. While most of the matches will be played at the Degheri Tennis Center, some matches will also be contested at the Santa Clara Gold & Tennis club. Click here for directions.

"We are looking forward to starting the season and playing on our home court in our first tournament will be great," said men's tennis head coach George Husack. "This is one of the strongest fields we have ever had here. There are a number of highly-ranked opponents and we have a very good team as well. It should be a great weekend of tennis."

The tournament field features four West Coast Conference schools (Santa Clara, San Francisco, Saint Mary's, Gonzaga), four Pac-10 entrants (Stanford, Washington, California, Oregon), three Western Athletic Conference teams (Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada), two Big West schools (UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis), along with Sacramento State, Brigham Young, UC San Diego, Sonoma State, UC Santa Cruz and Fresno Pacific. A number of the participants ended 2006 with high national rankings, including Stanford (No. 10), Washington (No. 18, 2006 Pac-10 champs), California (No. 21), Boise State (No. 27), Fresno State (No. 46), UC Santa Barbara (No. 72) and Brigham Young (No. 75).

The Broncos figure to have one of their deepest squads in recent memory going into the tournament as they have talented players starting with senior Bobby Rasmussen and junior Kevin McQuaid, who is in his fourth year at SCU. Last year, the two veterans combined for 27 singles wins and 34 doubles wins. McQuaid and doubles partner Blane Shields, who opened their season Tuesday at the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Championships, set the school record with 20 wins in doubles last year.

"This year our team is very deep and we have a lot of talented players," said Rasmussen. "We have good singles players and the coaches have put together some exciting doubles pairings. I am really looking forward to getting started this weekend with my last Bronco Classic. I hope to play well and help spark the team to some good performances."

Led by Rasmussen and McQuaid, the Broncos have a very balanced squad, featuring one senior, four juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. Husack's doubles pairings and placement of players in the Flight A, B, C brackets this weekend demonstrate the team's depth and talent in all the classes.

Rasmussen, McQuaid and sophomore Brian Brogan will represent the Broncos in the Flight A singles bracket, while two freshmen, Steven Benvenuto and Jay Wong, highlight the team's Flight B singles along with sophomore Tommy Hicks. In the Flight C group, junior Blane Shields, sophomores Aneal Vallurupalli and Kenzo Hirakawa-Wong and freshman Joe Galbraith will represent SCU.

In doubles play, the newly formed pairings of Rasmussen and Benvenuto and Brogan and Wong will join the record-setting McQuaid-Shields duo in Flight A. Hirakawa-Wong and Vallurupalli will compete in Flight B. Redshirt junior Robert Gallman will be unavailable this weekend due to injury, but would have competed in both singles and doubles.

"Our team is going to surprise some people this year," said Brogan. "We have a good nucleus and we have added some new guys so I am really looking forward to getting started. This weekend should be a great tournament for us. We did alright last year in the tournament and I think that that this year we will be even more successful. If teams look past us that will be a mistake because we are ready for a big season."

Two players that expect to make an impact as freshman are Bevenuto and Wong, who arrived as highly-touted players after outstanding juniors careers. Wong, a San Jose native, was ranked No. 1 in the NorCal rankings for Boys 16s and 18s, while earning a No. 7 ranking in Boys 16s for the USTA. He was the San Jose Mercury News Boys Tennis Player of the Year in 2004. Benvenuto's resume is equally impressive as he went undefeated during his senior at Aragon High School in San Mateo, capturing the CCS title twice and earning a top-100 USTA singles ranking. He was recognized as the San Jose Mercury News Boys Tennis Player of the Year for 2005 and 2006.

"I am feeling good right now," said Benvenuto. "The team here is really supportive of each other and that makes you want to play hard for the team. We have a lot of good players so as a team, I think we will do well. For me personally, I hope to win the tournament this weekend in singles and play well with Bobby in doubles."

Last season, Tommy Hicks won the Flight C singles title at the Bronco Classic, while the doubles combo of Rasmussen and Jan Macek finished runner-up in Flight A. With so much talent on this year's squad, the results could be even better as the Broncos look to reach new heights in 2006-07.

"We have a lot of potential this year," said Husack. "This fall season should be great because we have a lot options out there so this tournament along with the others this month will really teach us which combinations work best in doubles and who is ready to step up in singles."

For the complete bracket and for tourney results, click here.