Bettles, Sereke approach final day on the courts

Bettles, Sereke approach final day on the courts

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For men’s tennis seniors Andy Bettles and Nathan Sereke, the time has come to say goodbye to the blue courts of the Appleton Tennis Center.

The Broncos (23-4, 4-0 MW) will play their final matches of the regular season against conference opponent Air Force, and San Francisco on Saturday. This will be Boise State’s last opportunity to raise its national stock before embarking for the Mountain West Championships in Fresno, Calif. on April 24.

Air Force will be the first opponent of the day at 11 a.m., followed by San Francisco at 6 p.m.

Both seniors hail from overseas, with Bettles coming to Boise State by way of Reeds School in Somerset, England and Sereke transplanting from Samgymnasiet in Stockholm, Sweden. Bettles and Sereke entered the program as head coach Greg Patton’s No. 5 and No. 6 singles players. They are now his No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.

“When I first got here, I was kind of like ‘what am I doing here?’” Sereke said. “I didn’t know anyone and I barely spoke any English, and it was hard. I thought for sure I was going to go back home, but now I can’t see myself anywhere else.”

Last season, Bettles became the Broncos clear-cut star, tallying a 30-10 overall record and qualifying for the NCAA Singles Championship as a junior. In the 2013-14 season, Bettles has slipped a bit, and is 22-14 and 4-6 against ranked opponents. Sereke holds a singles record of 13-12 heading into his final home matches.

Despite Bettles’s less pronounced individual record, he’s pleased that Boise State — now ranked No. 24 in the nation — is putting together one of its most dominant seasons in program history.

“Each year we’ve gotten slightly better since I’ve been here, and it’s great to have an unbelievable senior year,” Bettles said. “It means everything.”

Though senior day is important for every athletic program on campus, the Broncos have more pressing matters at hand. With the Mountain West Championship around the corner, followed by the NCAA Regional and National Championship, Boise State still has some areas to improve.

The Broncos will capture an outright Mountain West regular season title with a win over Air Force. This season hasn’t been without drama, as the Broncos have come down to the final court in multiple matches.

“You want to be the king of your neighborhood,” Patton said. “We’re like the actor who goes from one action thriller to the next; we’re the Alfred Hitchcock of collegiate tennis.”

Patton has a running wager with other coaches on campus to be the first head coach to bring a Division I national championship to Boise State. With this year’s program, he has never been closer.

“I can almost kiss (the national championship),” Patton said. “I bet (Chris) Petersen who could do it first, Leon (Rice), and I’ll probably talk to (Bryan) Harsin about it. That’s the way I want my guys to think: why not? Why not us?

“We could do this. All the stars have to align, but the stars do align,” Patton said.”

John Engel
John Engel is the sports editor of the Arbiter. He got interested in journalism when he was cut from the baseball team his junior year of high school. He started writing for his high school newspaper and swore he would one day work for ESPN, and indeed he did. He recently finished an internship with ESPN as a radio production intern where he talked to Kobe Bryant and almost fainted. He still works with ESPN Radio's Boise affiliate, ESPN Boise as a studio engineer, reporter and SportsCenter anchor. He is majoring in communication with an audio production emphasis, and plans to graduate sometime in the next decade. Follow John on Twitter: @EngelESPN