July 7, 2011
Each weekday in the month of July, MGoBlue.com will feature an interview with a U-M head coach. Batting cleanup is men's tennis head coach Bruce Berque, who discusses a strong returning core for 2011-12 and his recent trip overseas.
What makes the summer in men's tennis so unique?
It's a time for the guys to return to their roots in development. It's more individual. During the first part of the season, the guys compete in individual tournaments, but it's a team-oriented second half. Guys can be a little more selfish during the summer. They can go out and play in individual tournaments and test their progress. It's basically a time for them to switch gears.
Why are the summer months so important to the development of your team?
Tennis is really a year-round sport. A lot of our guys want to play professionally, and to do that, you need to be committed to it year-round. The best teams in the country are made up of guys who are dedicated to that, compete at the national level, and compete for championships. It's impossible to do that anymore without players that are committed. We feel good about this year's squad. Since I've been here, this is probably the most passionate group and each of them are hungry to improve. I'm very much looking forward to the future.
What do you see as the team's biggest strength heading into next season?
I think most people that look at our team will look at Evan King. He was 17th in the country as a sophomore after being unranked the previous year. His rate of progress is a pretty good benchmark. Most people who know Evan or have seen him play know that he's just beginning to scratch the surface. He's a guy who's completely dedicated, and very hungry to win championships. He plays at the No. 1 spot in our lineup, and with his ability and the momentum he's gained so far this year, he's set up to have a lot of terrific opportunities ahead. I also think we'll be strong at the bottom, at the four, five, and six spots, where we return good, strong and experienced players. The key for us is finding guys at two and three. Certainly Shaun Bernstein can be one of those guys, who played at No. 3 last year as a freshman, but we'll need to have guys step up, and if that happens, all of a sudden, we have the making of a great team.
What was your first summer job? Where?
I taught tennis at the All-American Sports Camps in Amherst College. It was a tennis camp and I was the guy who got to do all sorts of odd jobs -- get water, clean up courts. I also had the opportunity to work lots of camps, clinics and clubs. I always had busy summers, and those summers were always spent around the tennis courts.
Do you or did you have any special travel plans this summer?
I just came back from England on a recruiting trip. I was there for a warm-up for Junior Wimbledon. There were lots of international guys, and I was there for four or five days, all summer camps. The next couple of weeks, after our camps end, I'll be on the road recruiting, so it's definitely a busy time.
Tell us one unique thing you've done since the season ended?
Probably the trip I took overseas to England. When I came back from NCAAs, we went right back to work, so there wasn't a whole lot of time for unique.