April 17, 2007

‘House’ Brous Becomes Leader

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Senior tri-captain Dan Brous of the men’s tennis team used to hate his nickname of “House,” which dates back to high school, but he has come to like the name that accurately reflects his role among his tennis teammates. At 6-5, Brous is the tallest and one of the steadiest of the Red’s players, as well as one of its three upperclassmen leaders.
The Melville, N.Y., native has posted a 10-5 singles record and a 9-8 doubles record so far this spring, and he recently fought through a back injury to win at both No. 3 doubles and No. 3 singles for the Red in its 5-2 victory over Brown last weekend.
Pairing with sophomore Kyle Doppelt at third doubles, Brous helped to clinch the doubles point for the Red by defeating Brown’s Zachary Pasanen and Noah Gardner, 8-6. Immediately after that, he stormed his way to a 6-4, 6-3 win over Eric Thomas in spite of his lingering back pain. According to Brous, he and his teammates were anticipating the Brown match with revenge in mind.
“Brown was the Ivy League champion the past two years, and we had some bad blood with them,” Brous said. “They were the only Ivy team that we seniors had never beaten in our four years. It was definitely nice to get that off our backs.”
Brous also had a successful fall season this year, finishing with a 7-4 singles and a 6-1 doubles record. He earned wins over Dartmouth and Yale at the ECAC championships and went undefeated in doubles with junior Rory Heggie throughout the Red’s three matches there. Brous then teamed up with senior tri-captain Josh Raff to win the Farnsworth Invitational held at Princeton.
Raff pointed to Brous’ court passion and intensity, which has a positive influence on every player on the team.
“Brous consistently and reliably is a motivator and diligent worker in both his physical and mental approach to the game,” Raff said. “On court during matches, he works harder than anyone and is able to defeat opponents with pure grit and tenacity, not to mention a 130 miles an hour serve. His drive to compete is much stronger than most that I have witnessed, and I admire it.”
Brous started playing tennis, among other sports, competitively when he was eight years old, but began to focus on just tennis around age 14. He competed in his first national tennis match in a tournament in Indianapolis when he was 11, and, in a twist of irony, his opponent in that match was none other than Raff.
“He wiped me off the court that day,” Brous said.
Raff also remembers this match against his future teammate, and still jokes about it.
“I think [Brous] might still hold a small grudge against me for hitting a ball at him when we were 11,” Raff said. “He swears that he doesn’t remember the incident. Maybe it’s a repressed memory, he took it pretty hard.”
Grudge or no grudge, Brous prides himself on using adversity to his advantage by making himself tougher and steeling himself for future competition. He notes that, while Cornell was his top choice, head coach Barry Schoonmaker was the only Ivy coach to recruit him, and that he also had to work hard to earn his spot in the starting lineup.
“The other coaches showed no interest, and this has encouraged me to play with a chip on my shoulder,” Brous said. “As a freshman I rode the bench, which was very tough. I didn’t even travel.”
According to Brous, after his lack of playing time his first year, he worked hard to get into better shape; he played No. 4 singles for two years before playing at the No. 3 spot for his senior year. He cites the Red’s 5-2 win over Harvard last year — its first since 1960 — as his favorite and most memorable win in his Cornell career.
“After we lost the doubles point in that match, the odds were strongly against us,” Brous said. “The team played its absolute best tennis and won 5-of-6 singles matches to win.”
The Red was winning by a score of 3-2 and needed one more victory when Raff and Brous were the two players still on the court.
“We were playing on courts right next to each other, and we seemed to be feeding off each other’s energy,” Brous said. “We knew one of us had to win so we could finally beat Harvard, and we both ended up winning bloodbaths. We had done something that no Cornell team had done in 46 years.”
Only two Ivy matches remain for Brous and his classmates as the Red will take on Penn and Princeton next weekend, and the senior hopes to make them count.
“Our goals for the remainder of the season are to win both matches this weekend,” Brous said. “While we’re out of the running for the Ivy title, we would love to play spoiler to Penn or Princeton.”