July 17, 2009
MILWAUKEE - Women's tennis junior Rachael Hush has been a strong presence on the squad for two seasons, tallying a team-best 19-12 overall singles record as a freshman and a 14-5 doubles record with her sister, Gillian, during her second season. The Wichita, Kan. native earned the team's Dedication Award following a season in which she battled through injury.
What did receiving the team's Dedication Award at the end of the season tennis banquet mean to you?
Winning the Dedication Award for the second year in a row was an honor. It was one of my proudest moments this year because this award stands for leadership, making sacrifices for the entire team, and doing the right thing so that the Marquette women's tennis team is respected and represented well.
How challenging was this season for you with the injuries?
This season was challenging for me. I had a couple of injuries, mainly a shoulder injury that took me out of a couple of matches. Like every athlete, it's hard to take time off to recover but that's what I had to do in order to play my best the next time I stepped on the court. My shoulder injury was only a minor hamper to my tennis game. Once I knew what I had to do to get better, I rehabbed a lot and stopped tennis practice early when needed. I didn't get to compete against IUPUI, Illinois State, Wisconsin, or Villanova, so there were only a few matches I had to sit out because of my shoulder. Our former assistant coach, Heather Nobler, was really helpful to me during that period. She was very understanding and positive with my injury and getting me back on the court. I have not had any recent problems with my shoulder which is a great feeling, since now I can work on getting better to be ready for next year.
How did you decide on Marquette three years ago?
During the recruiting process, I had the chance to visit Marquette. The more I got to know the school and the girls on the team I knew this is where I belonged. All of the other schools I visited were too big and I just didn't feel comfortable. Everyone at Marquette was so nice, friendly, and helpful. The main reason I chose Marquette was because of Coach Bronson. The first time I met her she was so easy to talk to and a very caring person. Her coaching style was what I was looking for. She's not like one of those coaches who is always in your face, but she will be intense when she needs to be. What Coach really wants is to see her players get better every time they step on the court.
What made your younger sister Gillian join you here at Marquette on the tennis squad?
Gillian's initial decision was to be open-minded in her search and not necessarily follow me - our parents have raised us to be independent thinkers. She wanted to make sure all of her options were open. I was just happy to help her make the right decision and answer any questions she had. When she came to visit it was a perfect recruiting visit weekend and she knew it was a great fit for her just like I did on my visit. My sister and I are best friends and it has made us even closer. Playing doubles with her is a great feeling.
Was last season the first season you played with your sister? What was it like playing doubles with her so much last season?
Last season was the first time I had played so many matches with Gillian, but we had played together a few times in junior tennis. The first time we stepped on the court with each other for doubles practice was during practice time. At first we weren't really sure how it was going to work out but we really enjoyed playing together that day. Once we practiced together working on shots to improve our doubles game, we knew that it would be a great season not only for us but the entire team. Playing matches with her was a great feeling - she really knows what to say to me when a stroke isn't working. She also has a great way of boosting me confidence when I am getting frustrated about something or something isn't working as well as I would have liked. We really know where the other is on the court and having played so much together, the match seems to flow smoothly. Gillian is a great doubles player, her game is very aggressive and she knows when to put the ball away which made our jobs easier.
The squad beat a lot of ranked teams in close matches last season - how did that add to the confidence during the season and for next season?
Last season, one of the team's goals was to focus on beating top-ranked teams and each year we've come closer and closer to beating them. Our wins against Louisville and Western Michigan were huge for us. Without everyone's fire to beat these teams, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did. Having those big wins under our belts made us realize that we can beat top ranked teams. It gave us the confidence for future matches during the season. It's clear now that we can beat those top-ranked teams if we all come out with the confidence and positive attitude that it takes to win. Everyone has on the team has a confidence that will intensify more before next season.
Towards the beginning of the season, the squad was ranked nationally for the first time since the 1999-00 season. How much of a confidence boost was this for the squad? Was it a goal you had all set before the season?
To be ranked in the top 75 was a huge confidence boost for us - not only was our confidence high but we were able to show other teams that we were good enough to compete with them and beat them. We all knew we could do it but we had to prove to ourselves and to other teams that we were capable of beating them. At the beginning of every season, we sit down as a team and go over some of the specific goals we want to see reached by the end of the year, and being ranked as a team was one of them.
With the win against Wright State in late March, Coach Bronson became Marquette's all-time wins leader across all sports. What was it like to be on the squad for a moment like that for Coach?
We knew of the potential record being broken before the match. Knowing this before the match made me and the entire team want to win the match not only for us but especially for Coach Bronson. By winning the match for Coach, it was a fantastic feeling to be part of the team by making Marquette sports history. It's been a great experience building a team. We beat two nationally ranked teams and we know we can compete. We were a young team last year with only one senior and next year we want to make sure we earn a higher national team ranking and are part of the NCAA tennis championships. Personally, I am working on building a bigger and more strategic game so that I can help the team with my play in singles and doubles. From a personal standpoint, I'm lucky to have Coach Bronson as one of my biggest adult influences in my life. She's helping me realize that I can be successful with the student and academic part of my life.
What have you been doing this summer?
For the first part of the summer I was at Marquette taking summer classes. Along with going to school, I was working out three times a week with Nate Heyrman, our strength and conditioning coach, and then playing tennis with some of the other girls on the team who were up there as well, Coach Bronson and our new assistant Coach Potts. I was at Marquette for six weeks and now I am back at home in Wichita, Kansas. One of my main goals when I came home was to focus on improving my backhand and being more consistent during point play. One of my other goals is to work on improving my fitness level and my footwork - my footwork has to be quicker. So far I've improved in all of those targeted areas. I am also playing lots of matches against tennis pros at my club who are a level above me to get better. The only way to get better and to reach my goals is to play and practice against players who are better than me.
What are you looking forward to for next season?
We have a very talented freshman coming in this year, Kelly Barry, who is going to help us reach our goals and push each and every one of us to be a better tennis player on and off the court. My sister Gillian and I are both looking forward to working with our new assistant coach, Katie Potts, and learning from her. She has a lot to bring to the table to help us obtain our goals for this upcoming year as a team.