Bruce Berque is in his sixth season at Illinois and his fifth as associate head coach. He has been instrumental in leading the Fighting Illini to the top of collegiate tennis. Illinois has won four NCAA titles (one team, one singles and two doubles) during his tenure with the program. They have also won the national indoor championship and five Big Ten crowns during his time in Champaign-Urbana.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Berque was selected as the ITA's National Assistant Coach of the Year after Illinois captured the NCAA team, singles and doubles championships last May. Earlier, in 2000, he earned honors as the ITA Regional Assistant Coach of the Year.
Berque assists Head Coach Craig Tiley in every aspect of directing the Illinois program. In addition, during the summers, he travels to Futures tournaments at the request of current and former UI players. Oliver Freelove, Cary Franklin, Graydon Oliver, Nathan Zeder, Amer Delic, Michael Calkins, Brian Wilson, Chris Martin and Alex Hobson have all taken advantage of this summer coaching.
His efforts and expertise are well-noted. ""Bruce has an incredible eye for the game," says junior Chris Martin. "His attention to detail is impeccable. But beyond that, he is one of the most loyal guys that I have ever met in my life."
"Bruce is better than 99 percent of the other head coaches in the nation," ex-Illini Mike Kosta says. "And to have a coach who is as experienced, knowledgeable and committed as he is, adds tremendously to the Illinois program. Bruce has an exceptional way of focusing on the details, yet not losing touch of the long-term goal."
The Old Tappan, N.J., native has a wealth of coaching experience. Just before coming to Illinois as a volunteer assistant
in January of 1999, he coached at the professional level and as a player development coach with the United States Tennis Association.
The success of Berque's players speaks well for his coaching ability. While working at the college level in the Big Ten and the SEC, he has coached a national team champion, six conference championship teams, two NCAA singles titlists and three NCAA doubles championship duos.
In 1996 and 1997, he was the full-time traveling coach for Mark Merklein, whose ATP singles ranking vaulted from 400 to 160 and whose doubles ranking rose from over 300 to 70 during their association. Berque also served as the personal coach for David Martin (older brother of Illini junior Chris Martin) in 1998, when he won the doubles championships at Kalamazoo and the U.S. Open, and placed third in the national junior singles championships.
In addition, Berque served for six years as men's assistant coach at the University of Florida. During his tenure there, the Gators won the 1994 Southeastern Conference championship. Also during that period of time, Merklein and David Blair won the 1993 NCAA doubles title and Merklein won the 1994 NCAA singles championship.
His career has also included coaching stints at his alma mater, Haverford College, in Pennsylvania (1988-90 with its women's team) and at Ohio State (volunteer coach with the Buckeye men's team in 1997-98). Certified by both the USPTA and USPTR, Berque is also a member of the USA Tennis High Performance Coaching program.