Hidden within the depth of the men’s tennis team is a priceless asset, a man that has stepped onto the courts at the U.S. Open, won tournaments around the world, a professional in his day, and has his heart set for the development and success of the Red.
One of the best kept sports secrets on campus is that of Bertrand Madsen.
A current law student and assistant coach of the varsity tennis team, Madsen has helped mold the beginning of a special season for the Red.
A combination of Madsen’s extreme work ethic and motivation has created an important role for him on the squad. Each player respects Madsen as an elite player.
How elite, you might ask?
Born and raised on the island of Haiti, he first picked up a tennis racket at the age of five. He took local lessons and slowly made his way up to an advanced stature. He knew that if he wanted to bring his game to the next level, that meant leaving his homeland.
At the age of 15, Madsen moved to Jupiter, Fla. to follow his love of the game. He moved in with a French coach whom he met, who owned Jupiter Racquet Club.
Madsen graduated from high school a year early and entered the Association of Tennis Players (ATP). Traveling around the world, he played in numerous events and worked his way up the ranks.
In order to achieve and reach Grand Slam tournaments, one must compete in satellite, challenger, and finally, tour events. You become ranked and earn points based upon your record and specific defeats.
Madsen slowly made his way up the ranks, not even having a coach.
“I was making enough money to pay for traveling, but did not have enough for a coach. I would just practice with other players.”
His natural talent and self-coaching led to him be ranked No. 250 in the world, which is quite an achievement.
The pinnacle of his career came after he qualified for the U.S. Open in 1991. In the first round action, he played the No. 19 singles player in the world, also the No. 1 doubles player. He was defeated but forever will remain among the few to achieve such a feat in reaching the Open.
Madsen played until the end of 1993. At the age of 21, he got a full scholarship to play for the University of Miami. He was the No. 1 player and played five games before being barred from ever playing intercollegiate sports again.
Since Madsen had achieved professional status he was unable to compete at the collegiate level.
Madsen then transferred to Cornell University in 1995 and graduated in December of 1997. He then decided to go back on tour and won a major tournament in Australia after returning to the game for only 2 months. Then ranked No. 300, he decided that he had grown out of the traveling and politics of the ATP.
After acceptance in the Cornell Law School, Madsen has become an integral part of the tennis team. After an attempt from the law professors to once again get Madsen in action, the appeal was revoked.
Madsen has watched the tennis program grow as head coach Barry Schoonmaker has added depth to the program. As the assistant coach, Madsen has become a leading voice of the team.
“I strive to bring the professional approach, on and off the court. Pros make fewer errors mentally. I have tried through practice to create that mental consistency.”
Michael Laycob, a junior, has felt the changes that Madsen has brought.
“Bertrand has brought further intensity and determination to the team. He brings another element to the game, and we all respect him for that.”
When asked what kind of person Madsen is on the court, Laycob responded, “His work ethic is incredible. The combination of determination and diligence has helped everyone on the team improve. And off the court, he is a great friend.”
Madsen feels happy that he can contribute to the team his knowledge of the game and help Schoonmaker develop the team even further.
The tennis team is currently ranked No. 66 in the nation and is going into the Ivy League portion of their season.
Said Madsen, “I feel optimistic, we have a hard working team. If we stay healthy then I think we can do it.”
As the team continues to play, this will be the last season with Madsen. he will graduate in May. Although his time at Cornell will end, his tennis career is far from complete. In two weeks, he competes in the Davis Cup for Haiti.
Archived article by Doug Hopek