During his career on the tennis court at Michigan State University, Tom Gudelsky said he didn't put too much concern into the fact that he earned All-Big Ten Conference honors upon the conclusion of his junior and senior seasons with the Spartans.
"It was just like, 'Oh, really?'" Gudelsky said with a chuckle. "You didn't really think about it too much back then."
But now, as nearly 36 years have passed since Gudelsky served up his last point for the Green & White, that recognition is meaning a lot more to the Grand Haven resident.
The all-conference criteria helped Gudelsky, 58, recently earn a selection as one of the top 25 players in Michigan State history, as part of the program's 100-year celebration. Each generation of tennis players and coaches at the school had to meet different criteria to earn the honor. For example, those selected from 1913-1948 were based on results gathered from the MSU archives. Big Ten singles flight winners at No. 1 or No. 2 singles were picked from 1951-71, and All-Big Ten players earned the honor from 1972 to 2013.
"I got a call from their current tennis coach (Gene Orlando) and he informed me what they were doing and asked if I'd be willing to attend a banquet on Feb. 9," Gudelsky said. "They held the banquet at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing."
Gudelsky said he was extremely flattered by the recognition, and cherished the opportunity to reminice with former teammate Kevin McNulty and other top Spartans in attendance. Those honored received a rectangular engraved plaque, signifying their place on the All Century team.
"It was a great experience," he said. "I got to see my old tennis coach (Stan Drobac). He flew in from South Carolina with his family. He's in a wheel chair now, but he was really happy to be there."
Gudelsky said tennis was a passion in his family throughout his childhood while growing up in Muskegon, as he honed his skills at the nearby McGraft Park.
"I started playing when I was 8 years-old," Gudelsky said. "And as I got older I would play in all the area inter-city tournaments like Grand Haven, Holland, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo."
Gudelsky continued to flourish in the sport during his days at Muskegon High School, and upon graduating in 1973, decided to walk on at MSU. His strong skill set allowed him to make the team as a freshmen and he eventually reached No. 1 singles during the second half of his junior season.
He excelled in the top flight for the Spartans, earning the first of his consecutive All-Big Ten selectionis.
"Team-wise, the best we did during my time there was fourth," he said. "The lowest we finished was eighth. We weren't a powerhouse by any means."
Some of Gudelsky's fondest memories from his collegiate playing days centered around the travel. He enjoyed the bus trips to South Bend to battle Notre Dame, throughout the Midwest to compete against other Big Ten schools, and the annual early spring trips down south.