Boise State men's tennis bonding, finding success

Boise State, which is ranked No. 22 in the nation, hosts three teams this weekend.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comApril 11, 2014 

On the background of coach Greg Patton's office computer is what he says is his favorite photo.

The image, taken in February in Alabama, shows four teammates and assistant coach Luke Shields ready to mob senior Nathan Sereke, who had just clinched the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic.

"That's what it's all about,'' Patton said.

That win, the third in as many days against teams ranked ahead of Boise State, propelled the Broncos from 41st to 15th in the nation. The Broncos, 11-2 since the Blue Gray, host UC Irvine, Idaho and San Diego State on Friday and Saturday.

No doubt there is plenty of skill involved to get to this point, but Patton credits something a little more "mystical,'' captured in that picture he cherishes.

"I look at how many talented teams there are out there and how the hell we beat them. … There's a brotherhood,'' Patton said. "They do everything together. They collectively have created this great vision, and it always includes each other.''

Ask any player what has made this team one of the strongest in recent years, and as Patton said, it's something that's not quantifiable.

"I think if you ranked it, we're one of the closest teams in the country,'' said sophomore Thomas Tenreiro, who is 11-4 in duals at No. 3 singles this season.

The Broncos have earned their ranking with only one player ranked nationally - senior Andy Bettles at No. 85. He is 22-13 and 11-10 at No. 1 singles in duals.

"You look at the individual records, and they're not as impressive as the team record, and that's the cool part,'' Bettles said. "We're so close, together on so many road trips. This is our only real shot to be part of a team in tennis, so you want to win for the other guys.''

Boise State is 20-4 in duals this season, which has already matched its win total from last year. The Broncos won 26 duals in 2011-12 and 16 the prior season.

"It's perfect, culminating into something like this,'' Bettles said. "We were always the underdogs, but now teams are coming after us.''

Patton, whose son Garrett is 19-12, has relished this season because of the team's bond - he noted Garrett doesn't have a brother, but the team is full of them. With the Broncos' success this season, Patton said the team's goals have grown beyond just winning the Mountain West to now hoping to be one of the 16 teams that host the NCAA Tournament's early rounds.

"We've got to keep tapping into that positivity and that closeness, especially now that we're getting into crunch time,'' Patton said. "There's a lot more at stake.''

BSU MEN'S TENNIS THIS WEEKEND

• At the Appleton Tennis Center on the BSU campus.

• Friday: vs. UC Irvine, 1 p.m.; vs. Idaho (doubles), 6 p.m.

• Saturday: vs. Idaho (singles), 9:30 a.m.; vs. San Diego State, 5:30 p.m.

• Free admission; free parking on fifth floor of Lincoln garage Friday and Liberal Arts and Library lots Saturday.

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