Friday, May 18, 2018

NorCal's Brooksby verbally commits to Texas Christian

Jenson Brooksby practices Wednesday at the Arden Hills
Resort and Spa in Sacramento. Photo by Paul Bauman
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Jenson (J.T.) Brooksby had scholarship offers from every big-time tennis university.
   Somewhat surprisingly, the Sacramento-area resident chose eighth-ranked Texas Christian.
   Brooksby verbally committed to the small, private school in Fort Worth shortly after winning the boys 18 singles title in the prestigious Easter Bowl on April 1.
   The 17-year-old high school junior from Carmichael said Wednesday that he will sign his binding National Letter of Intent "as soon as possible" -- Nov. 14 is signing day -- and enroll either in the fall of 2019 or in January 2020.
   "I felt the coaching was really good, the school fit itself was really good, I like the smaller school size, and they're really dedicated to (developing) pro players," Brooksby said after practice at the JMG Tennis Academy at the Arden Hills Resort and Spa. "I feel like their individual training for the players is really good as well. So I felt it was the best fit overall."
   Brooksby chose TCU and Fort Worth over UCLA and Los Angeles. TCU's undergraduate enrollment of 8,891 is almost one-fourth of UCLA's, and Fort Worth's population of 854,113 is almost one-fifth of Los Angeles'.
   Brooksby, a Sacramento native, has been home-schooled since the sixth grade and coached by Joseph Gilbert (no relation to renowned commentator and coach Brad Gilbert), JMG's founder and owner, since age 7.
   "It's a smaller bubble (at TCU), and that's very much what he has here," said Gilbert, who also has sent Collin Altamirano and Camille Favero to Virginia, Brandon Sutter to Stanford, Austen Huang to Columbia, Kassidy Jump to Arizona State and current pupil Eric Hadigian to Arizona.
   Altamirano, the USTA boys 18 champion in 2013, helped the Cavaliers win three NCAA team titles before turning pro last year. But Brooksby said Virginia is "too far away." Stanford and Cal are near Sacramento, but Brooksby added that they offered less than full scholarships. And Cal, like UCLA, has an undergraduate enrollment over 30,000.
   Brooksby, whose father is an anesthesiologist, said TCU and UCLA were among about 20 schools to offer him a rare full ride.
   Men's programs are allowed only 4.5 scholarships versus eight for women. Title IX requires equal opportunities, and women don't play football.
   TCU, under head coach David Roditi and assistant coach Devin Bowen, will try to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year when it faces No. 9 Illinois today in Winston-Salem, N.C.
   The Horned Frogs (20-4) are led by Alex Rybakov, a junior from Coral Springs, Fla. He is ranked No. 21 in singles and No. 6 in doubles (with senior Guillermo Nunez of Chile) by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
   Cameron Norrie, a left-hander from Great Britain, is ranked No. 102 in the world only one year after turning pro following his junior season at TCU. He won the $100,000 Tiburon and Stockton Challengers in Northern California back-to-back last fall.
   College coaches are prohibited from discussing recruits until they sign letters of intent.
   Brooksby has played in tournaments on the USTA Pro Circuit since he was 14. He reached the singles quarterfinals and doubles semifinals (with Altamirano) in the Claremont (Calif.) Futures last September and advanced to the final round of qualifying in the $100,000 San Francisco Challenger in February.
   Brooksby, who plays few junior tournaments, is ranked 34th nationally in the 18s. His gold ball in the Easter Bowl was his second. He also won the national hard court 12s in 2013 in Little Rock, Ark.
   In 2016, Brooksby advanced to the 16s final of the national hard courts in Kalamazoo, Mich., and the national clay courts in Delray Beach, Fla.
Joseph Gilbert, the founder and owner
of the JMG Tennis Academy, observes
his players at Arden Hills on Wednes-
day. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter), 155-pound (70.3-kilogram) Brooksby's strengths are competitiveness and precise groundstrokes.
   "He doesn't have huge weapons," Gilbert conceded, "but he doesn't have a lot of holes. When he's able to get rallies going and keep (opponents) out there for two or three hours, (their games) break down over time. ... It's not easy to see because he doesn't do it by a huge serve or a big forehand winner. It's a process that he breaks guys down with. He does it very well."
   Brooksby is working to add power to his serve and curb his emotions.
   "His competitiveness is a blessing in some ways and hurts him in other ways," Gilbert said. "He has to constantly be working on controlling it so he can focus on the game plan. Sometimes the score and the emotions get the best of him. At the Easter Bowl, he was frustrated (in the final). You saw that. He was more focused on the win and the score than the game plan."
   In the Easter Bowl final at Indian Wells, the unseeded Brooksby beat top-seeded Tristan Boyer of Altadena in the Los Angeles area 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Brooksby squandered a 5-2 lead in the first set and almost blew a 5-0 lead in the third set. He held on after serving at 5-3, 0-30.
   Brooksby also can become passive on the court.
   "Sometimes he relies on his consistency and gets too 'pushy' waiting for guys to miss," Gilbert said. "That's when he gets in the most trouble instead of having a plan with every shot. Once he's doing that, he's really strong."
   Off the court, the sports-loving Brooksby is polite and down-to-earth.
   "He has a very good heart," Gilbert said. "He means well. He wants to do the right thing. He's grown up in a small town. He has an innocent mindset. I like that about him."

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