Reason for Optimism

May 9, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head men’s tennis coach Steve Houghton will admittedly have one reason in particular to feel good heading into next year’s season and his 31st at the helm of the program: Marc Bruche.

Bruche became the 17th Hawkeye to earn all-conference honors and the first player to earn the accolades in the past two seasons for Iowa. For Houghton, the best part of that happens to be that there is still one season left in the works for Bruche.

The senior-to-be returns next season with the opportunity of being one of few Hawkeyes to have played three seasons at No. 1 singles. Only Tyler Cleveland has surpassed that plateau, competing at No. 1 singles four consecutive seasons.

“Only one guy has played No. 1 all four years, so nobody has really done much more than what Marc is on the verge of doing,” said Houghton. “You have to give him a ton of credit for that. He has meant a lot to this team the past two years, and that will continue next season.”

Bruche has been the staple of the program since his arrival, and that was evident at the end of his junior season as he was named second team all-Big Ten following the opening day of the Big Ten Tournament. Bruche earned the award from an 11-10 record in singles and a 14-7 mark in doubles. All of the victories came in the No. 1 position.

“It’s a great award for Marc,” said Houghton. “He will be one of the top guys returning in the conference because of it. He has a ton of experience under his belt, and some noteworthy accomplishments now.”

Bruche’s accolades thus far are more noteworthy when considering the level of competition the junior was up against. The Big Ten had 10 teams ranked at the end of the regular season, including five within the top 25.

Bruche faced eight nationally ranked opponents in the No. 1 singles position this season at the time of the match.

“Playing No. 1 singles in the Big Ten is very challenging,” said Houghton. “The conference is stacked right now. To have a winning record in the No. 1 spot says a lot about you in this conference.”

Bruche, a native of Hoelsbrunn, Germany, transferred to Iowa after competing at Baylor University his freshman season. Bruche was on a Baylor squad that won the Big 12 regular and postseason titles.

Finding a home in Iowa City, Bruche made an immediate impact on the team after transferring to play for Houghton. Bruche earned the Outstanding Newcomer award his sophomore year after winning 11 singles matches at the No. 1 spot.

“It’s great for your confidence to be playing at No. 1, and I’m glad I could fill that position right away,” said Bruche. “It’s nice to have one year left to give it another shot. My goal for next year is to be a first team all-conference selection.”