Women’s Tennis Head Coach Robert Bruley didn’t know what he was getting himself into earlier this season.
The orange-haired and purple-fingernailed head coach’s appearance was part of a deal his team had him locked into after their capture of the SUNYAC championship two weeks ago.
“In the beginning of the year, the team said if we won the SUNYAC’s they would bleach my hair and put pink tips on it,” Bruley said. “At the time I didn’t think anything of it and I didn’t think of it all season, but on the ride home after the tournament one of the girls was like ‘hey remember you promised!’”
Bruley celebrated the team’s successful showing at the tournament by serenading the team with an “off-key” rendition of “We Are The Champions” by Queen.
The camaraderie and sense of closeness
is something that the team cited as a huge reason for their success. Second-year player Montana Wilson called the team “a family.”
Second-year player Kayla DiPaulo agreed, saying that the team’s respect for one another was important.
“Our team is very close. We see each other off the court more than we do on, all get along and have great team chemistry,” DiPaulo said.
When the season started, Bruley said that there was a sense of calm over the team, because instead of being the no.1 seed like in years past, SUNY Geneseo was the top ranked program in their division.
“I think it relaxed our team a bit,” Bruley said. “In years past we had a target on our back and everyone wanted to beat us. We were always playing under pressure and had to be on top of our game at all times.”
The team used this relaxed feeling to roll through their schedule, and finished with a 7-2 record as well a spot in the SUNYAC tournament. Throughout the season, Bruley instilled the theme of “them vs. us” to motivate the team and give the team strength during tough stretches.
The team, Bruley said, is the strongest team from top to bottom that he has ever had. Bruley believed that no one underperformed, and every player on the team “took it to the next level.”
“I think this is a Division I program in a Division III environment,” Bruley said.
At the tournament, the team went through matches against many fellow SUNYAC programs, including an early set that Bruley described as a “must win” situation. Wilson was playing a match and was injured during the game, making the two matches on either side of her important to the Hawks success.
“You could cut the atmosphere with a knife,” Bruley said.
After coming from behind in both matches, the team soon knew that they would be the winner of the tournament.
“The girls knew before I did,” Bruley said. “I was so happy for them, they pulled off this unbelievable feat.”
Fourth-year player Lindsey Garyn said when the team won, they were so excited that they began to jump up and down and didn’t believe that they won at first.
“We checked the points and we won…it was one of the best feelings we’ve all had in our lives,” Garyn said. “I know everyone of us will remember it forever.”
DiPaulo said that the moment they won was “the best feeling in the world” because she knew how badly the entire team wanted to win.
Looking back on the team’s run at the tournament, Bruley could only smile. The championship represented an entire body of work the team put into their season, and the belief in their ability, Bruley said.
“It was one of those incredible experiences where everything comes together so sweetly,” Bruley said.