April 5, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It was on the bus ride back from Atlanta last May that Andres Bucaro vowed to make a change.
The Florida State men’s tennis team had just seen its 2011 season end with a loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA Championships and Bucaro had fallen in his singles match to the Bulldogs’ Zach White, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. As a team, the Seminoles were coming home with a final overall record of 73-88 in singles matches.
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“I felt like I didn’t contribute enough to help this team,” Bucaro said this week. “I felt responsible for that loss.”
Bucaro finished his sophomore season with a 6-12 singles record and an 0-6 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
He was competitive but seemed to falter at the end of long matches and had to deal with cramping issues on a regular basis.
“On the trip back I was like, ‘This summer I am going to focus and lose weight, get fit, get stronger,'” Bucaro said. “And that’s what I worked on and it has helped me with my confidence knowing that I can be out there for three to four hours and still be 100 percent. I haven’t had to change my strategy because of getting cramped up.”
Bucaro’s weight loss and the improved stamina, conditioning and strength he obtained after an inspired off-season of work has done more than just change his strategy; it’s changed his level of success as well.
Primarily a court-six performer through his first two years playing for Florida State, Bucaro enters Friday’s home match against Duke with team-best records in singles (16-1), ACC (6-1) and doubles (16-3) matches.
In those singles matches, he’s 8-1 on court three and 8-0 on court four.
“Andres went from being a guy that was kind of in and out of the lineup to a guy that is 16-1 in singles and 16-3 in doubles,” FSU men’s tennis coach Dwayne Hultquist said. “If you add all of his wins, he’s almost at 50 [combined] wins on the year, which there probably haven’t been too many people that have done that. I think one thing I really see in Andres is it’s not just about tennis; it’s about organization [and] it’s about focus.
“He lost the weight to make himself fitter and that made a difference.”
“You can definitely tell his hard work paid off,” FSU junior Anderson Reed added. “It’s given him confidence to know that he can go the distance and play through things.”
Bucaro’s combined 26-5 singles record through the fall and spring seasons has him playing towards an updated record book, too.
With four more solo victories, Bucaro would become the first Seminole since Romain Jurd in 2002 to reach 30 wins in a season. Accomplishing such a task would further add to the increased confidence Bucaro has gained since that bus-ride revelation.
“Tennis is a confidence game,” Bucaro said. “If you are confident you can win a lot of matches. If you work hard you are going to get that confidence when you see it translating on to the court.
“I felt like I needed to become a guy on this team that would set an example and lead by that example and I think I’ve done that.”