Stuart Brdicka, cultured in Tennis



Stuart Brdicka competing at the Spreng-Smith Invitational in October 2019.

Paul Murray, Reporter

Stuart Bridicka was born to play tennis.

From the moment he took his first steps, he was surrounded by the culture of tennis.

His parents Ed and Barb Brdicka were avid tennis fans, and they would often bring a young Stuart to their recreational matches.

His oldest sister Meghan was emerging as a star at the Lakewood Racket Club in Lexington, Ohio, and was already competing in United States Tennis Association tournaments.

His sister Brianna was beginning her tennis career as well, playing at the local racket club and learning from her sister and parents.

By the time Stuart was 8 years old, the decision to pick up a racket himself was a no brainer.

“I didn’t want to feel left out, I had to join up!” Stuart said. “Once I picked up a racket that was all she wrote.”

Starting from a young age is a great precursor for success in anything; many virtuosos were made this way. Elton John began playing piano at age 11, and Mozart created his first musical piece at age six. The odds were in Stuart’s favor.

Early on, he and his sisters benefited most from the training schedules they were able to follow.
His parents decided to homeschool their first daughter Meghan, and the other two followed suit.

This homeschooling allowed great flexibility to practice tennis, giving them the opportunity to work with coaches most kids never could.

“Instead of going to the normal 7-3 schooling like most kids, we were taught whenever it fit our schedule,” Stuart said. “Sometimes at night, sometimes in the morning, whenever we could.”

The Brdicka family took advantage of this homeschooling to expand their kids training. During the daytime, the Bridicka children would travel to the Lakewood racket club and get one-on-one coaching with some of the highest regarded staff members.

“Lakewood is known for having the best players,” Stuart said. “I remember spending six hours a day down there just working on our skills. Most families don’t get the opportunity to do that. It was cool because we were all together.”

All the time and effort the family put in paid off when Stuart entered his junior year of high school. The Bridickas were able to compete at Olentangy High School in Columbus as long as they were enrolled in one class. Still having this extra time to practice, Stuart excelled.

He would become a state singles qualifier as a junior, finish fourth place in Ohio as a senior, and then compete for the 18U World Tennis Team following his senior season.

Brdicka packed this success in a suitcase and unloaded it when he arrived at Ashland in the fall of 2018. In his first year as an Eagle, Stuart was named GLIAC freshman of the year and at one point was ranked 17th in the nation.

The biggest difference he found in the transition from high school to collegiate athletics was the skill set of the competition.

Most of his opponents had the physical skills to excel at tennis, while he attributes his own success to the mental side of the game.

“The mental game is what separates the good players from the great players. At this level, everyone can hit the ball well, everyone is in great shape, everyone can strike well. Knowing what to do with the ball is what separates you,” Stuart said.

Christian Hamilton, associate head coach of AU tennis, says Stuart’s mental game and competitiveness has been vital to his success.

“He’s a gamer,” Hamilton said. “He has the ability to find a way to win in any situation. Stuart is one of those guys who will try to beat you in every rep of practice.”

One of Stuart’s mental advantages is his usage of film, studying his opponents moves so he can dissect them on the court.

He often times looks up videos or reports of other players to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses to see where he can exploit them.

“Often times we create scouting reports and give them to our players before a match,” Hamilton said. “Stu is always five steps ahead of me. He has a laundry list of ways to defeat his opponent. A true student of the game.”

This hard work and dedication is something that comes naturally to him, having been practicing and studying since his early days at the Lakewood Racket Club.

Stuart hopes to implement all of this training into his season, and help inspire his team.

“The interesting thing about tennis is although it is mainly an individual sport, the team aspect can really make or break a match,” Stuart said. “Seeing your teammates win inspires you to fight harder for each point. I want to be that guy who helps push my teammates to higher ground.”

Brdicka’s plan is to go undefeated in the GLIAC, and become nationally ranked in singles as well as doubles.”

These are just a few of the goals he has set throughout his tennis career.

“I’m really thankful for tennis, it has brought our family together and my family here and it truly is such a fun game to play.” Stuart said.