Brandywine tennis continues winning ways

Published 7:47 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SOUTH BEND — Despite already wrapping up the Division 4 outright regional title on Saturday, Brandywine girls tennis coach Joe Marazita wasn’t satisfied.

He kept pushing his No. 2 singles player Emily Erwin to rally and beat Berrien Springs” Brenna Wineland.

Marazita wanted his team to shout words of encouragement to Erwin.

Erwin eventually lost the match, but not without a fight. Wineland was victorious, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

That match shows why the Bobcats have had a successful girls tennis program over the last several years, despite not having a junior varsity team or high school tennis courts.

A toughness and a supportive family atmosphere surrounds the program.

Behind those traits and some great coaching, the Bobcats have gone an astounding 58-0-1 over the last four years in dual matches. Brandywine has won four straight conference titles and nine in the last 12 years. Marazita’s squad has also made it to the state finals in 10 of the last 12 years and been outright regional champions in seven of the last 10 years.

“Kids know that they’re not going to be pampered if they go out for tennis,” Marazita said. “You’re really going to get kids who are committed and you know they’re going to work hard. Brandywine has some very competitive kids and I seem to get my share of them.”

Brandywine’s No. 1 doubles team of seniors Alyssa Bolen and Rachael Szilagyi didn’t start playing tennis until their sophomore year of high school. The duo had only three losses over their career entering this year’s state finals. The talented pair improved to 22-0 this year after beating Berrien Springs’ Callie Stoub and Ramsden Holets, 6-4, 6-2.

How do you get so good so fast?

“We come up with some drills to get players in shape really fast and they’re going to sink or swim,” Marazita said. “Fortunately, over the last 20 years, our kids have done more swimming than sinking.”

Marazita also gives a lot of credit to his assistant coach Rich Robbins, who has been with him for the last seven years.

“He’s brought focus and maturity to the program,” Marazita said. “He has a good understanding of what to expect from high school athletes. He knows how to motivate kids. He’s just been a great asset to the program.”

Another great asset to the program has been Kathy Marazita, Joe’s wife. Joe gets emotional when talking about what his wife has meant to him and the program.

“I might be the coach, but she’s coach 1-A,” Joe said. “I just don’t have the time to do everything being self-employed. She handles all the uniforms and she even does scheduling for me, sends out e-mails and sends results in for me. She does all the hotel reservations for us.

“But the biggest thing, is that she’s been there for me during my whole life. She really has given me tremendous support. She’s been by me the whole time.

“She really bonds well with the kids and they respect her too.”

And many respect what has been accomplished by the Brandywine girls tennis program.