Mediocrity is not a word in most Wolverine fans’
vocabulary. However, for those following Michigan men’s
tennis team the past few years, it was a word they were beginning
to have to settle for. The once-proud Michigan squad, which at one
time pumped out professionals such as Malivai Washington, was
finding itself constantly in the middle of the pack. Something had
to be done in the offseason for this once-proud squad to regain its
fire.

Enter Bruce Berque. The Wolverines’ new coach brings a
winning attitude to Ann Arbor and hopes to instill this passion in
his players. Along with Ann Arbor native and former pupil Michael
Kosta as his assistant coach, Berque feels that this could be the
beginning of something special.

“We plan to be constantly readjusting early on to find
that winning formula,” Berque said. “We hope to, at
worse, settle for a top-four finish in the conference.”

Settle is not a word Berque likes to say. His long-term goals
for the team exemplify nothing less than excellence.

“Becoming a national powerhouse is certainly a long
goal,” Berque said.

However, turning around a program is much easier said than done.
Having been a part of successful programs at both Illinois and
Florida, Berque believes he has the formula to conquer that
seemingly impossible task — practice, practice and more
practice.

“We certainly hope to show much more professionalism in
practice than in years past,” Berque said. “Early on, I
think our main goals are more process-orientated than
result-based.”

Michigan lost just one player from its previous squad, and with
four returning seniors, improvement seems eminent for the
Wolverines.

“David (Arving) shows great leadership with his intensity
at practice while Vinny (Gossain) does his part with a lot of
off-the-court events,” Berque said. “The seniors all
have different personalities, but each does their share in their
own way.”

Every team has its own extrovert who seems to steal the show.
However, most don’t have an assistant coach who takes that
distinction — Michael Kosta is that exception.

Kosta, a graduate of Ann Arbor Huron High School, has come to
help coach after playing professionally for two years. He enjoyed
success at Illinois, where he played under Berque. So when he got a
call from Berque in the off-season, his decision was easy.

“I attribute most of my success to (Berque),” Kosta
said. “It was an honor for him to ask me to coach, so I
jumped at the opportunity to coach under him.”

On the surface, the two seem like candidates for a remake of
“The Odd Couple.” When you ask Kosta, though, he finds
it no surprise that these two opposites attract.

“From day one at Illinois, we had very good
chemistry,” Kosta said. “We compliment each other very
well. He is much more reserved, and I am more outgoing. But we both
share a love for tennis.”

This coaching duo and its love for tennis will be put to the
test this weekend as the Wolverines open their season with the
Wolverine Invitational — a six-team, three-day marathon of
tennis that is sure to be a good measuring stick for Michigan.

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