New women's tennis coach building team bonds and wins
EAST LANSING, Mich.- Michigan State women’s tennis head coach Kim Bruno has the Spartans off to an undefeated start to the season, and she looks to build upon this success as the team approaches Big Ten play.
Bruno joins the Spartans after 11 seasons with Northern Arizona University. She oversaw both the men’s and women’s tennis programs as the director of tennis and helped rebuild the women’s program from the ground up. The high point was 2016, as the team became the program’s first Big Sky regular season champions. Bruno was also the conference’s 2006 and 2016 coach of the year .
Now, Bruno and the Spartans have won their first four matches of the 2017 season, including sweeps over Eastern Michigan and Cleveland State.
“I think everything that we’ve been working on came to fruition,” said Bruno. “We out-fought and out-thought those teams. The girls should have confidence coming off of these wins.”
Bruno recognizes the work it took to get the team to their current record, both from her players and staff and from herself. MSU men’s tennis Coach Gene Orlando sees Bruno coach, and is impressed with her demeanor.
“Coach Bruno has handled the transition very well. Erin Faulkner and Athena Trouillot have looked great, and I think they’re ready to take care of business this year,” Orlando said.
Still, coming to a new university and becoming the coach of an established roster is challenging. Bruno quickly realized she needed to work on team cohesion and bonding with her.
“There’s that whole awkwardness of getting a team to trust you again,” said Bruno. “There’s also small things, like not knowing how to get to Jenison [Fieldhouse] from the tennis facility. It’s definitely not an easy change, but I believe that only greatness can come from this struggle.”
Bruno credits most of the team’s success up to this season to associate head coach Tyler Faulkner.
“Tyler has done nothing but maintain the program,” said Bruno. “I had the choice to bring an assistant, but I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about him, and he’s done an unbelievable job recruiting. He’s brought this program from being ‘not really that good’ to ‘pretty darn good,’ and I give him a lot of credit for that. After one conversation with him, I thought ‘I’d be lucky to work with him.’”
Moving forward, Bruno is confident in each of her players, expecting them all to contribute if the team is to have the same type of success.
“I think we have nine stars on this team, and each of them brings something different to the group,” said Bruno. “I think all the girls have done exceptionally well… now we get a little better. Finish a little better in the Big Ten. If we get a little closer as a unit and try to build a better culture, I think with that will come better results.”