April 26, 2007

Ten Questions with Nick Brunner

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Soon after beating down Paul Testa with his own squash racquet, Sun Assistant Sports Editor Lance Williams began his 10 Questions career by volleying with senior tri-captain Nick Brunner of the men’s tennis team.
1. So, I’ve given a lot of thought to what question I want to ask to begin my 10 Questions career, and I’ve settled to lob one up for you to slam in my face. Why are you playing tennis?
Right now?
In general! Don’t kids want to play basketball, baseball and football? I mean you’re a big dude …
Yeah I’m big, I love basketball actually and when I was younger I started out playing baseball, tennis and soccer.
And you sucked or what?
No, I was good at all three actually; But I quit baseball at 13 to continue tennis.
But my question is why, tennis is probably the eighth-most popular sport in America.
What about in the world?
I don’t care about the world man; We’re in America, have some patriotism.
Alright well, I personally think it’s the best sport. It’s probably the hardest. Among the individual sports, I think tennis and golf are the most difficult to play.
Do you belong to a country club?
I belong to a couple actually, yeah.
[Laughing]
One just for tennis and the other one for golf.
That’s pretty ridiculous, you know that right?
Is that illegal or something?
It’s not illegal, but its pretty ridiculous. Wouldn’t you rather be A-Rod or D-Wade or Tiger though; Why do you want to be Federer? What’s your deal? Federer’s not even that cool.
That’s not true, he’s “invisible.”
I don’t even know what that means. But nice image to start off 10 Questions, two country clubs. I like that.
I’m supposed to slam it in your face and you’re slamming it in mine.
[Laughing] That’s what 10 Questions is all about man.
Yeah, I know, I guess.
2. Sticking with tennis, a couple of things bother me about the sport. First thing, why are the balls so fuzzy? What’s that all about?
What do you mean?
They’re fuzzy! They have little green fuzz on them.
I mean, it’s yellow; I’m color blind, but I’m pretty sure it’s yellow.
O.k., whatever, get off me.
Good balls aren’t supposed to be fuzzy.
Good balls?
They’re supposed to be tight, like rocks.
Tight balls?
Tight, solid, not loose. No hairy balls.
Fair enough. So you’re saying you usually don’t play with hairy balls.
Well, we practice with hairy balls; Hairy balls are everywhere then, but not in games.
Second thing that bothers me, what is that smell when you open a new can? What do they put on these fuzzy balls?
I think it’s pretty addictive because I’m pretty sure I used to get high off of it.
So you can get high off of it! I was going to ask that. So you were just opening up cans all the time, trying to get high as a kid?
Yeah, straight out of the package, nothing better. I know a lot of players who would do that.
[Laughing] That’s disturbing, that’s what that is. So you don’t know what it is, what they put in these balls?
You know what? That’s a good question. But I think you could sell that, you know?
Maybe you could start a whole new thing and get rich, drug lords are rich man.
I know I’ve just got to figure out what that is.
There you go.
3. Next question: it’s well known that [senior tri-captain Dan] Brous — or Frankenstein as you call him — has the biggest serve on the team, 130 mph plus —so I heard. Do you think he’s overcompensating for something?
First of all, he doesn’t have the biggest serve on the team. I do.
Ohhhhh. Shots fired.
His is just the fastest. But about your question, I know from first-hand experience that he’s well-endowed.
Wow, that is not an image I wanted to think about.
Well neither do I, but we have to take showers together after practice.
Do you stare?
I don’t stare. Well not at Brous, at [senior tri-captain Josh] Raff. My doubles partner, he and I are pretty close.
We’ll get to him later, you don’t need to profess that you’re his lover yet. But back to Brous: you’re saying that he has a ginormous unit?
Brous “The House” is endowed man.
Very disturbing.
But you’ll probably have to edit that out.
Maybe, I’ll look into it.
4. A lot of your teammates seem to have special abilities. [Sophomore Josh] Goldstein can eat two whole pastas at Wegmans in one sitting. I’ve seen him do it. Raff can rap. Brous is like eight feet tall. What can you do, any special abilities?
I like to imitate people. People on the tennis team, our coach mainly.
Right, [head coach Barry] Schoonmaker. What’s your best Schoon line? Because I heard he’s a great motivator, especially during matches.
This is a dangerous area here.
I’m laying down some serious sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.
Yeah I got it. He motivates me sometimes, he’s just a little repetitious. See, I don’t know if I can rip on my coach.
Why not? This is 10 Questions, he’s probably not even reading it.
O.k., well when he’s describing someone, he’s got three tiers. No matter how bad they are or how good they are — always three tiers. He’s got “good,” and that means that the guy is not very talented — he’s on the lower end. He’s got “way good.” Those are the guys you have to worry about, you see a lot of “way good” players out there.
[Laughing]
And then there are the guys that are “crazy good.”
Oh, that’s a whole new level.
Yeah, “crazy good” is top tier — guys that can go pro. Brous has actually made up a fourth tier, “scary good.” You should probably write that in there, the big, gentle, giant would appreciate it.
Alright, it’ll be in there. If you were having a terrible time on the court, what would he say to you?
He’d probably say, “this guy’s got some weaknesses and if you keep putting pressure on him he’s going to crack.” If you get on a run, he also gives the hardest high-fives I’ve ever seen. He’s nearly broken my hand before, in a couple of places.
[Laughing] Really? Couple places?
He packs a punch for a little guy. I mean when I’m sitting down he’s like, eye level with me. You know, he’s not that tall.
[Laughing]
5. So I was doing some research for this interview and I saw that you’re from Sacramento, Calif. The poor man’s San Diego.
The straight man’s San Francisco.
Alright, I’ll go with that. In your best Ron Burgandy voice, tell me the proper pronunciation of Sacramento residents.
[Long pause followed by a lowering of the voice] Sacromentans.
Sacromentiegans?
[Laughing] Sacromentiites? You know, when I think Ron Burgandy, I think Bill Walton. And I hate him. But he would say, “these Sacromentans can’t handle Shaq down low.”
[Interrupting] Throw it down big man.
Throw it down big man. Look at the elegance, the grace, the fundamentals. That’s a Ron Burgandy/Bill Walton voice for you. I hate that man.
I love him. He entertains me non-stop when I watch NBA games. He’s just ridiculous.
I have to disagree with you. My dad and I always wish there was a regular mute button and a Bill Walton mute button, so we can just get rid of his voice. He’s the most obnoxious man.
He’s like Dicky-V, you love him or you hate him. Would you rather be living in L.A. or San Francisco.
Yeah, Sacramento’s a great place to maybe raise a family. But would I live there as a college student, no way. San Francisco is the place to be.
You could go there with Raff.
We actually have.
[Stunned] Really?
We went to the rainbow district, a few clubs.
The funny thing is I believe you right now.
You better not, people out there better not believe me.
They might, you convinced me.
6. I heard you have a knack for finding some younger women; The word is that you are currently dating a freshman. How did that come about?
This mysterious freshman that you speak of, she tried out for the tennis team. We met at our annual women’s tennis team/men’s tennis team social event earlier this year. A tennis mixer.
A tennis mixer? Sounds like a rager.
Yeah, it was a good time. Raff actually cheated on me with some girl; he got a [tape recorder fails for five seconds] on the couch.
That hurts.
No, but it was a good time. We had a keg, underage drinking, all that good stuff.
Yeah I bet. So love at first sight at the tennis mixer. You’re the veteran senior, preying on a young freshman that knows no better and probably has had too much to drink.
She was 18.
Oh, I’m not saying she wasn’t legal but, you know how freshman are. Did she have too much to drink, yes or no?
Yes, way too much to drink.
Thank you that’s all I wanted to know. But you’re still together so obviously it wasn’t too bad.
Actually she took advantage of me, but I’m all for stuff like that.
7. Sticking with your girl, I also heard she makes some ridiculous signs. Something along the lines of, “I love it when you smack balls.”
Yea, she drew a spitting image of my balls.
[Stunned] Your fuzzy balls were on there?
Oh yea, it said “these are Nick’s balls and no one else’s and I love them.”
Wow, that’s a hell of a sign.
I love that girl you know.
Did you win the match?
Of course I won the match.
8. Alright moving on, last year you were the MVP of the team with an 11-3 record. Raff the year before was the MVP. Yet apparently on the website at one point, it said that Raff was the best doubles player on the team. What are your feelings on that?
You know that has really been my soft spot the last couple of years, and I’ve expressed that numerous times to Raff and whoever wrote that *&%!ing line?
[Laughing] It’s possible your coach wrote it.
You know I think he did and, uh….
What do you have to say to Schoon about that. That’s not crazy good.
No, that’s not good at all. That’s horrendous. I mean jeepers.
[Laughing]
Ha, that’s another one, get that in there. You know Raff is definitely talented at the net, but I thought we were a team, I thought we were life partners.
Are you better than him?
Uh, we both have our weaknesses and strengths.
You can’t dodge the question like that, you’re better than that. I just want a yes or no answer.
I mean that’s a good question it depends. Maybe we’ll see who’s MVP this year. I think if we played 10 times, I’d win seven of them. Maybe eight.
So take that one more level, eight out of 10 matches means you’re better.
Yes.
Finally.
He might completely disagree.
I’m sure he will; that’s O.k., you’re supposed to make people angry in this. This year, you guys beat the No. 7 team in the nation (Wake Forest) and had match points on the No. 2 team in the nation (Virginia). Yet, Brous and Raff won the Farnsworth Invitational together. Did you get jealous of him stealing your partner.
I was actually in tears the night that they won. I was injured. That should have been our title, me and my partner. See, he messed with my emotions again, this time with another man. And a well-endowed man at that.
You guys have been the No. 1 doubles team for four years now. How often do you play with one another?
On or off the court?
Either way, your call. The pressure’s on you, not me.
Hmmm, I mean we play a lot more on the court, but our play off the court is a lot more enjoyable for us if you know what I mean.
I do know what you mean. Do you want to elaborate on that?
No, that’s between me and Josh. It’s personal.
Do you get dirty? What’s the dirtiest thing you’ve done with him?
[Laughing and long pause] Oh man, that’s a great question.
I know.
Well it wasn’t technically with him but it was for him. Freshman year when we went to Boise, Idaho, a senior and I funded a trip for Raff to visit a masseuse. This 40-year-old, and we bought him a full relaxation massage.
[Laughing] Oh no.
So it was like $150 total; $100 for the massage and $50 for what they called a “full release.”
[Laughing] This is getting out of control.
So Raff goes into the basement of this sketchy house with this decent-looking lady. She asks him to take off his clothes and he says, “how much?” She told him that she would take off as many as he did, so of course he strips completely down — butt naked. He got the full royal treatment and the full release at the end, with a naked 40-year-old.
Unreal, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be fired after my first time doing 10 Questions.
Yeah, he said it was the best experience of his life.
This is more embarrassing for Raff than for you. Hopefully his parents aren’t reading this. Remember when you got down on your knees for him — and wiped his shoes off — last match against Penn?
Yeah, he hit a shot that was more than worthy of me getting down on my knees. I just got down there and wiped off his shoes because it was a great shot. He loves when I get on my knees.
[Laughing] Could you sound any more like lovers? This is officially out of control.
I know, I don’t think my girlfriend will approve of any of this. And these two random ballroom dancers next to us are getting upset.
Whatever, they’re good.
9. Does the grunting from the girl’s team ever get distracting?
Hmm, yes I’d say the overly obnoxious ones. I just don’t understand why you need to grunt. No guys grunt, and we exert just as much energy as them.
That’s right, if not more.
I think it’s a sexual thing.
It might be, maybe they’re trying to channel their sexual energy like “Nuke” LaLoosh in Bull Durham.
Some of them, like the Williams sisters. They’re scary.
No doubt about it.
10. Last question man: what is the hottest women’s team at Cornell?
See, I knew this one was coming.
It’s a classic.
I was thinking about this earlier and I wanted to make the women’s [tennis] team feel good.
So you want to give them a pity vote. That’s messed up.
No, I think there are good-looking girls on every team. I know track has been said a lot.
Is that your answer?
I don’t know. I need to get a better look at the figure skating team and the cheerleading team. Actually we’ve been trying to set up a mixer with both of them, apparently they don’t respect the tennis team too much.
Maybe you can find your next girlfriend at one of those mixers.
I’d say undecided for now.
Come on now, you can’t say that, this is 10 Questions.
Alright in that case, club badminton.
[Laughing] Club badminton?
Have you ever seen them? They’re some decent-looking girls on that team, and it’s also a racquet sport. Maybe that’s what turns me on?
There you go, maybe a little spanking would be in order.
10 Questions with Lance Williams will appear on Thursdays, unless Lance is fired or sued for his comments. He can be reached at lwilliams@cornellsun.com.