Certainly they were caught up in the moment of their 42 victory Sunday over No. 1 seed St. Johns repeating as conference champion and receiving the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. The scene was reminiscent of last year when coach Matt Brothers team made program history as the first to win a BIG EAST crown. Only then the laughter and revelry included fellow Blue Demon lifers Boris Spanjaard Fran Tonejc Chris Casati and Tamas Zador. All four super seniors used their extra year of COVID19 eligibility to make a dream come true.Tonejc Wassenaar and Tuff may have glanced around at their new teammatesfour freshmen and a juniorwhile marveling how quickly the new guys bonded and bought into the Band of Brothers concept
Indeed it was a rookie Marino Jakic who would send the graduating Tonejc Wassenaar and Tuff out on a high note. With DePaul leading 32 the rookie from Toni Kukocs home town of Split Croatia defeated Carl Gustavsson 76 63 at No. 2 singles.
That earned Jakic his first postseason award as the BIG EAST Mens Tennis Most Outstanding Player. That was the finishing touch after the Jona GitschelLeon Huck and TuffWassenaar tandems secured the doubles point for a 10 lead.We had to rebuild our team with Marino and all the young guys Tuff said. There were a lot of playeronly meetings throughout the year with all the ups and downs. Vito Luuk and I spent a lot of time showing the new guys what our goal was and how to get there. They got there with three clutch singles wins. After St. Johns 176 tied the match at 11 with a win at No. 4 singles the Band of Brothers moved in front 21 with a victory from Tonejc at No. 1.
St. Johns drew even at 22 after winning at No. 6 but freshmen Matteo Iaquinto at No. 5 and Jakic dashed any hopes of a Red Storm comeback.
I never thought about being the clinching point Jakic said. I focused on doing my best to help the team and just playing my game. We went through a lot of ups and downs as a team a lot of tough practices. After all that we went through all the hard work has paid off. When I scored the final point it was a really special moment. There are a lot of Europeans on the team and it just felt right to celebrate like that. Tuff and Wassenaar appreciated the youth movement at Sheffield and Belden.
Its special because of how quickly the young guys became a part of our winning culture Wassenaar. They learned so quickly and by the end of the season they were playing like seniors. Tuff echoed that sentiment. The younger guys made some valuable contributions to this BIG EAST title Tuff said. Weve officially welcomed them to the Band of Brothers. On his way to joining the BIG EAST Digital Network live stream of the DePaulXavier womens tennis title match a jubilant Matt Brothers reflected on what just took place.
Two completely different teams Brothers said. Last year was all the older experienced guys who made it through the pandemic together and then took full advantage of their second chance. This year is a completely different dynamicback to development and getting guys better .We had the hunger in 2021 to do something that had never been done before. The younger guys this year saw all that which instilled a hunger within them. Last night I had Vito Luuk and Tripp talk to the younger guys about what they experienced here last year. Hearing it from them instead of just me really made an impact on them.