Former Rutgers coach watches game’s evolution
According to Marian Rosenwasser, the game of tennis has evolved immensely over the years.
A tennis player since her high school days, Rosenwasser was the Rutgers head tennis coach for 22 seasons up until 2003, before handing the reigns over to current head coach Ben Bucca.
“She mentored me,” Bucca said. “I was her assistant for three years before I was the head coach. I learned a lot from her and she was a great coach.”
Rosenwasser entered college at a time when organized women’s athletics just began to sprout, so she did not have an opportunity to play tennis in school.
She still remembers what it was like to play the game outside of school.
“Back then racquets were made of wood, the head was much smaller, so the game was played at a much slower pace,” Rosenwasser said. “As time went on, you began to see the advent of metal racquets. So, the racquets are much lighter now, and the game is faster.”
Rosenwasser compiled a 316-213 record during her Scarlet Knights career, and then served as assistant coach under Bucca for three additional seasons before retiring for good.
She is now a professor in the department of Exercise Science and Sports Management at Rutgers, but still coaches and has won two National Championships for the USTA Eastern Girls National team.
She has seen firsthand how tennis has transformed from the beginning of her coaching career until now.
“Today, the person who is playing at No. 6 singles, 20 years ago, would have been a No. 1 singles player because as with other sports, the training now starts at an earlier age,” Rosenwasser said.
She said other aspects of training today are significantly different from when she was the Knights’ head coach.
“One thing I see in my players today is that they are much more in tune with their diet and healthy forms of training,” Rosenwasser said. “I think that’s important because junior players — not just in tennis, but other sports — probably weren’t training properly. So when they got to a program that was as intense as a Division-I program, their bodies would break down.”
But Rossenwasser believes one of the keys to the women’s game at the college level is still about creating a strong team bond.
“One of the great challenges [in coaching] is to have an understanding of community,” Rossenwasser said. “There’s certain things about creating that sense of community and continuing to cultivate it that has been a hallmark of coaching women because you are trying to create a sense of team.”
Freshman Farris Cunningham agrees having the team around her all the time improves her play.
“High school tennis does not have the same team aspect,” Cunningham said. “I see my team every day, and we’re always working together and working hard and pushing each other to do better.”
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