The Quinnipiac men’s tennis team played the role of pilgrims last year when they were the first tennis program in Quinnipiac’s Division I history to reach the NCAA tournament, and captains Fabian Villacis, of Danbury, CT, and Jonathan Russo, of Garden City, NY, feel that anything short of a repeat would be a failure for the season.
Villacis is the only senior on the team this year, but he thinks that his role as a leader has adopted new forms over the years. “With one year under my belt I feel that I am a much stronger leader,” he said. “We had a very young team last year and it was very tough [on me].”
Coach Mike Quitko has said that Villacis “is like a second coach out there” and Villacis takes it as an honor to be named captain again. “It’s cool,” he said. “The guys were young last year with not much college experience and I like being their friend as well as their leader.”
Russo, a junior, empathizes with Villacis and believes that this team has certainly transformed into a more cohesive unit since last year. “This year will be much easier than last year,” he said. “We had a majority of freshmen and as a whole we have come together. This year should be better based on experience.”
Over their esteemed collegiate tennis careers, both Russo and Villacis point to last years win at the NEC Championships as their top highlight.
Both captains are placing their expectations high on repeating their performance. “We have a great chance to repeat and it would absolutely be a failure if we don’t do it,” said Russo.
One of the main reasons for the overwhelming confidence is the fact that every member of the team supports one another. “If you cannot work as a team, you cannot be a winning team,” said Russo, and that type of leadership has certainly helped men’s tennis become a success.
The Bobcats’ chances of a repeat bid into the NCAA Tournament looks probable as they possess a confident attitude and have the core of the squad returning. Coach Quitko did not recruit any new freshmen but both Russo and Villacis do not believe that will be an issue. “Our top three guys are sophomores, and me and Fabian just need to lead them and we should do very well,” said Russo.
Villacis and Russo emphasize the point that it takes a team to win, and everyone needs to contribute in order to have success. “As a team we are pretty much a team. We have standout guys, which are great, but we all work as a team,” said Villacis.
Being pioneers for men’s tennis at Quinnipiac has brought great recognition for the two captains, and both acknowledge Coach Quitko as a part of the program’s success. “He has shown us discipline, sportsmanship, and he is always there for you,” said Russo.
“He’s a player’s coach who works you hard, but he understands our needs other than tennis,” said Villacis.
With strong leadership both from the coach to the captains, Quinnipiac’s men’s tennis is building a solid foundation which should bring recognition and stand strong for years to come.