Huskies enjoy successful season

GLOVERSVILLE – Heading into the season, the Gloversville tennis team had one goal – winning a Foothills Council title.

After posting a 14-2 mark in league play, the Huskies did just that for the first time in school history.

“It was their goal since the first practice this year. The kids knew we had a talented team, but we also did other years. The returning players did not want to let it slip away again this year. It just wasn’t an option,” Gloversville coach Mike Bruce said. “Every practice this year was even more intense than what I’ve seen in the past. They never complained once about me correcting their technique or what they had to do to become physically fit to compete. Winning it all this year was their mission and they acted like it every practice and every match. Also, they most certainly worked together and created a positive and winning environment. They pushed themselves even more than I did.”

The Huskies went a perfect 8-0 in Foothills Council play on their home courts at Boulevard Elementary School and went 6-2 on the road.

Gloversville’s only losses in league play came at Schuylerville (4-3) and at South Glens Falls (4-3).

Gloversville finished its season 14-3 overall, setting a new school record for wins in a season. The Huskies lost 4-3 to Queensbury in the quarterfinals of the Section II Class A Tournament.

“All of this success means the world to the program. Not only because it may attract other student athletes to come and check out this great sport, but wining the league this year is being celebrated by all alumni players as well. I’ve had so many terrific and teachable kids that worked so hard at trying to become good at this difficult sport,” coach Bruce said. “Gloversville doesn’t exactly breed tennis players, but they all became fighters. They all know what it’s like to train in the Boulevard Elementary School gym in March. They all know what it’s like to be in a situation where every swing of your racquet is being swung with the entire match on his/her shoulders. I’ve had some great teams over the years; the past four in particular. My teams always function like a family. That’s the only way we can do this. You need to check everything at the door when you show up because these are your brothers and sisters when the season begins. All of my players over the years fought so hard to try and win a title and came up short. This year’s team realizes that they won it for all other past teams that helped make the program what it is today. All of the past players hard work did not go for nothing.”

Gloversville’s climb to the top of the Foothills Council has been a steady one, as the Huskies went 7-3 in 2012, 8-2 in 2014 and 10-4 in 2015 before posting their 14-2 mark this season.

Gloversville’s five singles players – Scotty Bruce, Damian Bruce, Kyle Fonda, Brian Hugo and Nicholas Bruce – went a combined 73-7 in Foothills Council matches this season.

Damian Bruce went 16-0 and didn’t drop a set in Foothills play, while Hugo also went 16-0. Fonda and Nicholas Bruce each went 14-2, while Scotty Bruce finished 13-3.

Cameron Biche, Zach Catucci, Jeannine DeMarco, Austin Reese, Nick Washburn, Ryan Issa, Rami Issa and Libby Ashe rotated among the two doubles team spots, combining to go 20-12 on the season.

Scotty Bruce, Damian Bruce and Nicholas Bruce are all sons of coach Bruce.

“Well, I can honestly say it’s not always easy being coach and father, for them or me. If you’re a parent, you clearly understand that. However, the answer is most definitely yes. The last few years it has become a running joke in the league. The coaches will tell their team on match day against Gloversville that ‘we’re playing the Bruces today.’ It’s a family event for sure and I love it,” coach Bruce said. “It’s a sport I fell in love with many years ago, so I raised my sons in the game. Scotty has been on varsity tennis for the past six seasons, Damian just finished his third with three to go and Nicholas just finished his fourth season with one to go. I’m so proud of what they accomplished. They are very skilled, trained players who do anchor the team, but they absolutely could not have won this title without the talents and dedication of the other players. That’s what makes us a team.”

In addition to their team success, the Huskies’ Scotty and Damian Bruce also won the doubles title at the Foothills Council Tournament at Queensbury High School on May 7. The Bruce brothers, who were the top seed, defeated Schuylerville’s Anthony Cardinuto and Steve Bennett 8-1 in the first match and Scotia-Glenville’s Laif Lundstrom and Ethan McKone 8-1 in their second match. In the semifinals, they notched an 8-3 win over Queensbury’s Nick Ricciardelli and Brandon DeMarsh. In the championship match, the Bruce brothers registered an 8-6 victory over Queensbury’s Patrick McMore and Matt Ricciardelli.

Scotty Bruce also was first seeded player ever representing Gloversville at individual sectionals, earning the No. 8 seed.

With just four seniors – Scotty Bruce, Catucci, DeMarco and Reese – on the roster, the future looks bright for the Huskies.

“I’m hoping we win more titles in the future. However, I hope student interest in participating in the sport continues to build at school and throughout the community. I’m hoping more parents might say, ‘Hey, why don’t you try tennis?’ If it does, we’ll have some talented athletes come out for the sport. It’s a difficult sport to be good at, but I can teach them how to swing a racquet,” coach Bruce said. “Like so many before them, they will fall in love with what the sport has to offer. The thrill of hitting a winning shot. The struggle of holding onto a lead, or climbing out of a hole when you’re down. You are on an island out there with nobody to pass the ball to. It’s up to you. It’s a sink or swim survival mentality that’s needed to play this game. I always tell the kids that the mental toughness you need to develop to become successful on the courts; is the same mental toughness I want you to carry with you everyday for the rest of your life. If they can do that, that’s all that really matters and I’ve done my job. I’d like to thank our athletic director Mike DeMagistris for always being very supportive of the program. The players and I feel great we could bring a title to our city and help represent Gloversville in a very positive way.”

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