‘We know what it takes’: Men’s Tennis sets sights on NCAA tourney heading into 2023 season


Donald Crocker

Senior Leon Husk and sophomore Jona Gitschel are two players returning from last season.

With the men’s tennis season already underway, head coach Matt Brothers has new expectations that involve more than just clinching their third straight Big East title. Getting to the NCAA Tournament and advancing past the first round is now the expectation. 

After last season’s first round loss to Kentucky in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, DePaul has aspirations to not just be a one-and-done team but to make a case that they belong.

“It’s another one of our goals and now we’ve added to that,” Brothers said. “[We] want to start winning, you know, not just the conference and making the NCAA, but starting to position ourselves to win matches at the NCAA tournament as well.”

This season’s Blue Demon roster features an entirely international squad. The nine-man roster does not have a single U.S. born citizen, something that has not happened under Brothers since he was named head coach in 2008. 

DePaul’s players came to Chicago from all over the world, from Germany, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. 

Brothers said this was not a goal to construct a roster this way, but it just happened to fall into that direction. 

“It really boils down to the popularity of the sport,” Brothers said. “In every other country but the United States, tennis is top three on the list of popularity. Whereas here, it’s not even in the top 10.” 

DePaul is 4-2 in the early season. The squad opened at Notre Dame where they were given an uncomfortable 0-7 loss. The first win of the season came a day later against IUPUI where they won 6-1. 

The Blue Demons were able to pick up their second win of the season against Princeton on Jan. 21, who at the time were a ranked opponent. Over the weekend DePaul was victorious against Davidson in their home opener 6-1. 

Duos partners sophomore Sven Moser and junior Shourya Verma got the night started defeating their opponents 6-3 and getting the first point for DePaul. 

In its past two games, DePaul defeated Dayton 5-2 and Purdue 5-2, to extend win streak to four games. 

Sophomore Matteo Laquinto secured the win against Davidson, winning his singles event 7-5. 

“Great 6-1 win for us against a team that beat us 4-3 last year,” Brothers said. “Really proud of the guys for building off the momentum they took away from the Princeton win last week.” 

After losing two graduate students from last season’s team, Brothers only has one senior this season, surrounded by a young group of sophomores and freshmen. 

Senior Leon Husk has embraced his role as a leader for DePaul both on and off the court. 

“Before coming into the new season, I knew that I had to step up, especially because we had great captains last year,” Husk said. “I want to continue that legacy. I see my role as a middleman between the coaches and the team. I’ve matured a lot through this position, and I think I can help the guys mature as well.” 

Brothers and his staff have also made sure that while winning on the court is important, so is being able to perform in the classroom. Just two years ago, Brothers’ tennis team had the highest team GPA out of any Big East teams across the conference. 

Six players from last season’s team were awarded with ITA Scholar Athletes. This was the 14th time DePaul won the ITA All-Academic Team honor in the last 15 years. 

Laquinto said there is a sense of more maturity with the international players and that they are more independent from what he has seen throughout his years of coaching in his tenure. 

“I would say in terms of people not born in the U.S., we have a different perspective from work ethic,” Laquinto said. “Most of us are used to a workload, so we have a better mind going into workouts.” 

In Brothers’ 15-year career at DePaul, 2021 was the breaking point for his tenure with the program. Last year, DePaul achieved the program’s first Big East Championship title and first NCAA tournament berth. The challenge now lies to get the programs first NCAA win. 

“We know what it takes, and we’ve been there a couple times now,” Brothers said. “Some of these guys that were on the team last year, know that they want more than just a berth. They want some wins and some more firsts for our program.”