Sept. 8, 2009
Now in possession of four-straight winning seasons, the Marquette University men's tennis team has established itself as one of the top programs in the BIG EAST Conference.
Seventh-year head coach Steve Rodecap features a roster loaded with experience for the second-straight campaign and has the Golden Eagles poised for a breakthrough season in 2009-10.
"We are extremely excited about the potential of this year's team and the impact that we feel we can have in the conference," Rodecap said. "We have the deepest Marquette team that we have ever had, which will play a big role late in the year when the conference championship is on the line."
Marquette returns five letterwinners from last season's 17-9 squad, while welcoming four talented newcomers to campus. MU's recruiting class consists of three freshmen and one transfer, with each individual expected to contribute in the singles and doubles lineups.
While help will be welcomed by the Golden Eagle veterans, the team's overall success will more than likely come down to the performances of seniors Niko Boulieris, Dusan Medan and Mark Rutherford.
As a trio, the group has collected nearly 200 singles victories and almost 180 doubles decisions.
Boulieris has developed into one of the team's leaders, both on and off the court. He has seen action at five of the six singles positions during his stellar career and owns 70 total wins.
"Niko is a very dedicated and committed player which has allowed him to grow each year in the program," Rodecap said. "His energy on the court will allow him to be a key leader for this year's team."
In two quick years with Marquette, Medan has already made a name for himself with back-to-back 30-win singles campaigns. He is on pace to become the program's all-time leader in singles victories and will assume the No. 1 position vacated by the graduated Trent Hagan.
"Dusan has been very productive during his two years in the program," Rodecap said. "His teammates have depended on him to lead on the court in pressure situations. He always puts the team first which makes him a special player."
Rutherford has already established himself as one of the top doubles performers in school history. He ranks second all-time with 82 victories and he and former MU player Brett Binkley are the winningest duo (49 wins) to wear the Blue & Gold.
"Mark is a very mature player with a wealth of experience and should have a calm presence with our younger players," Rodecap explained. "His versatility on the court, combined with a very competitive mind, should make him very reliable as a senior."
Both Jonathan Schwerin and Drake Kakar earned valuable experience during their respective 2008-09 freshman campaigns.
Schwerin developed into a consistent presence in the singles lineup and was tabbed the team's most improved player.
"With his size and weapons, I fully expect him to have an even larger role on this year's team," Rodecap said. "His sophomore season should see him continue to grow into his game and make him very difficult to match up against."
Kakar earned 16 singles wins in limited action, including a 6-2 mark at the No. 6 spot in dual action.
"Drake gained some experience in the lineup as a freshman that we feel will help relax him and allow him to be a more confident player as a sophomore," Rodecap said. "He is a great mover on the court which will give him the opportunity to be a leader for us in conditioning."
Jose Carlos Gutierrez Crowley arrives in Milwaukee as one of the top ranked players in Mexico. He has played at the international level for several years and will be counted on for an immediate contribution.
"'Pepe' is a very exciting player with a big game combined with a lot of athleticism," Rodecap said. "He possesses a lot of skill on the court which allows him to be a very versatile player."
Jose Manuel Munoz joins the roster with two seasons of collegiate experience at the University of San Diego and will be in his junior year with MU.
"Manny is a very committed athlete and has a very mature approach to his game," Rodecap said. "I fully expect that he will have a big impact in both singles and doubles during his first season in the program."
Otavio Perim owns a wealth of success on the amateur circuit and was ranked among the top-100 players in the country, according to TennisRecruiting.net.
"Otavio brings a lot of experience with him as a freshman, and we believe that he will have a great career as a Golden Eagle," Rodecap said. "He is a very tough competitor, with a lot of talent."
Fellow Texan Jacob Straus concluded a standout prep career at Alamo Heights High School, while also competing on the amateur circuit.
"He is full of strength and talent, which allows him to play a very big game," Rodecap said. "He has a lot of energy on the court that with some direction can develop into a great leader for our program."
The team's schedule was designed for the makeup of the roster and will prepare the squad for its ultimate goal.
"Our regular season is preparation for us to be playing our best tennis in April in order for us to have the capability of winning a Big East Championship and earning a spot in the NCAA's," Rodecap said. "This group is extremely motivated and led by three seniors who want to end their careers with a championship."