Up Close & Personal with Tennis Freshmen Duo

Jan. 11, 2002

Taylor Bedilion and Francisco Zepponi are two promising freshmen on the Santa Clara men's tennis team. Bedilion, of San Anselmo, Calif., and Zepponi, of Pleasanton, Calif., have known each other for more than six years. Fun facts were revealed about the two friends, including life in Swig and "All Dogs Go To Heaven" as one of the athlete's favorite movies. Also, each teammate disclosed a little something special about one another that fans might not know about!

Q. How do you guys know each other?

Francisco: We've played tennis since we were 12, in the same league, USTA. We just got acquainted playing tournaments together. Just became friends through the tournament circuit.

Q. Did you play on the same team? Against each other?

Taylor: Yes, we've played since the 16's, a few times in high school and USTA. It's always an interesting match. I don't know if we have ever had a tournament match that wasn't three sets, oh maybe once.

Q. Did you guys both plan on coming to SCU or was it just a coincidence?

Taylor: For me, Francisco signed early and I was deciding between schools and it just made the decision that much easier because I knew the guys.

Francisco The biggest thing that made me decide to come was the coaches here. I just thought the team really clicked together. When I heard that Taylor and all the other freshmen that we got, when I heard that they were coming, I had already signed, but it just made it that much better, because we always get along so great, it's awesome.

Q. Taylor, tell me something about Francisco that nobody knows.

Taylor: Francisco cannot drive a stick, but more seriously, he is a trustworthy guy. He watches out for me.

Q. Francisco, tell me something about Taylor that nobody knows.

Francisco: When Taylor is feeling really good, he has the ability to jump up an entire flight of stairs, jump over those garbage cans that they have all over campus. Also, he is probably one of the best friends you could probably have. He always got your back no matter what, even if your scheming or doing something, no matter what, he's always got your back.

Q. Have you noticed a difference in collegiate play thus far?

Francisco: College tennis is totally different from juniors. In juniors you play bad matches until the semis or quarters where you start playing good players. College, you're almost playing someone better than you are every single match. In practice it's more fun because you're with a whole team you're not just by yourself grinding away, you are with everyone else that is grinding, so that helps you improve more I think. Plus, you have someone watching over you all the time, which helps a lot.

Taylor: That was a pretty good summary. The only thing to add is that over winter break, practicing with people who are still in juniors it is such a difference. You don't realize when you are here the improvements that you are making, but when you go and play with people who are pretty close to you, but are a year younger so they are still juniors, you are just amazed at how much you have improved. It make me think, if I would have had this practice when I was in juniors how much better would I have been.

Q. Are you exciting about starting back up in the end of January?

Taylor: Yeah. For two months it has just been like January 26th is our first match and it is what all our practice has been for.

Francisco: That's what we have been waiting for.

Q. Do you have any goals you hope to accomplish this season?

Francisco: As a team our goal is to make the NCAA tournament and upset San Diego this year. For sure get a ranking. Individually my goal is to just keep improving. Right now I'm just hoping to have a winning record. That is my goal this season, and to keep improving.

Taylor: We've all talked about team goals, so we share the same team goals. I have specific things that I am working on that I would like to improve upon and accomplish, keep refining my game. I working a lot on coming in and volleying, it seems to be working out pretty well, so I want to be able to do that in matches as much as I do in practice.

Q. Do you have any pre-match rituals?

Francisco: I'm probably one of the most superstitious people I know. Before every match I have to listen to the same song, "Gravel Pit" by Woo Tang. Half an hour before I play, I always try and go off somewhere by myself for a few minutes, just think about what I am going to do. I always talk to my dad before the matches even though we have coaches that help us out, I still just talk to my dad about what I am going to be doing because he has been watching me a long time. On the court, I never step on lines between points. I always bounce the ball four times when I am serving and just small stuff like that. Everything is a ritual.

Taylor: Mine isn't quite as extensive as Francisco's, but usually before my match I like to hit for a long time, about an hour, and I always jog and stretch. Same thing as Francisco, I usually talk to my dad, because he's been coaching me since I was eight, just to go over a game plan and whom I will be playing. And I, too, do not step on any lines between points. On a change over, my hat always goes on my right knee, and I have to put my water bottle back in the same spot and make sure to close it, and pick my strings.

Q. Who has been most influential in your life?

Taylor: That's pretty easy. My dad has been there for my tennis game and off the court as well forever. He has kept me going and helped me get this far. He never pushed too much, just help me to develop further.

Francisco: I can't just pick one because both my parents have been equally influential.

Q. How is life living in the dorms?

Francisco: I live in McLaughlin, third floor, which is really quiet. Living in the dorms is really nice for me, I like it. I have a place to sleep, and it is quiet when I'm trying to sleep. If I need excitement I just go over to Taylor's place.

Taylor: I live in Swig. A quarter into school, I'm starting to figure out my dorm is not exactly the place to get stuff done. I'm starting to use my time more wisely between classes when no one is around. It's definitely somewhat of a distraction, but I am dealing with it.

Q. What is your favorite movie?

Taylor: Hands down, "Something About Mary." It's good.

Francisco: "All Dogs Go To Heaven!" Cartoon classic.

Q. Who is your favorite music artist/group?

Taylor: I have two songs at the moment. They are on total opposite ends of the spectrum: UDI, "Golden State Soldier" and Puddle of Mud, "Blurry".

Francisco: Mine has always been clear, my favorite music artist is Snoop. So laid back and relaxed. I love it.

Q. If you could have your mom cook you any one meal, what would it be?

Taylor: Beef stroganoff. It's soooo good.

Francisco: Gnocchi. It's potato pasta. It's the best pasta ever and no one has ever heard of it. I don't get it.

Q. What professional athlete do you admire most?

Taylor: I've always admired Pete Sampras. No particular reason, just because of all his accomplishments. I don't really relate to his game or anything, just because of his accomplishments.

Francisco: I admire two athletes in tennis. John McEnroe because no matter what people said about him, he just kept doing whatever he did. He was an awesome athlete, he just dominated. And Ivan Lendel because of his work ethic on the court and because I kind of have a similar to him.

Q. Where is one place you'd love to travel?

Taylor: I want to get out of the country, I've never been out of the country. So I'm really not too picky on that. I am going to Alaska though and I am really excited about that, it is one of the places I have always wanted to go.

Francisco: I want to go to Austria again during the winter so I can ski because I haven't been able to ski all year, I could if it were the off season. I love skiing, get those boards off the mountain.

Q. Do you guys have any nicknames for each other?

Taylor: He's Pooch.

Francisco: He's Big T. Everyone on the team has a nickname.