Wednesday, December 19, 2018

With switch, Brooksby continues on Altamirano's path

Jenson Brooksby, a Sacramento-area resident who's rated as the
nation's top recruit, displays his letter of intent to attend Baylor.
Photo courtesy of Baylor
   SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Both were born in this state capital and train here under the same coach at the same club.
   They won the USTA Boys 18 National Championships five years apart to earn a wild card into the men's draw in the U.S. Open.
   And now Jenson Brooksby will play for the same college coach as Collin Altamirano, although not at the same school.
   Brooksby – the nation's top recruit, according to TennisRecruiting.net – last week signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Baylor in Waco, Texas, after verbally committing to Texas Christian in Fort Worth in April.
   Brooksby, an 18-year-old resident of Carmichael in the Sacramento area, changed his mind after Brian Boland was named Baylor's coach in May.
   "I talked to the coaching staff at Baylor and really liked their goal of where they can get me, like playing pro in the future," Brooksby reasoned. "I also got along with the team really well."
  The home-schooled Brooksby said he will enroll at Baylor either next fall or in January 2020, depending on how he fares in pro tournaments next year, and will stay anywhere from one to four seasons on full scholarship.
   "Words cannot describe what it means to have Jenson Brooksby joining the Baylor Bears next season," Boland, who guided Virginia to four NCAA team titles in five years (2013-17) before becoming the head of men's tennis for USTA Player Development in May 2017, said in a statement. "Signing the No. 1 recruit in the country is a reflection of where this program is headed, and I couldn't be happier to be part of this athletic department and university."
   Brooksby, 6-foot-2, lost to Australian veteran John Millman 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in oppressive heat and humidity in the first round of this year's U.S. Open. Millman went on to stun Roger Federer in the round of 16 before losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Brooksby, meanwhile, reached the U.S. Open boys singles semifinals.
   Brooksby has played in five professional tournaments since then, advancing to the quarters and semis in last month's $25,000 Columbus (Ohio) and Waco Futures to attain a world ranking of No. 979.
   "Jenson is one of the strongest competitors I have seen and has a love for the game that is second to none," Boland said. "His innate skill set and incredible work ethic have helped him separate himself from his competition at every age group. He has even had great success on the professional tour over the past two years. He is poised to come in and make an immediate impact on Baylor tennis both on and off the court, and we cannot wait to have him at Baylor University."
   Brooksby said he received substantial scholarship offers from every top tennis school in the country, including Stanford, Cal, USC and UCLA in his home state.
   "I'm not as big on location as most of the other people," Brooksby explained. "Close to home is obviously nice, but (the decision) was just based on the coaching staff and the offer you get." 
   Brooksby and Altamirano, both of whom train under Joseph Gilbert at the Arden Hills Resort Club & Spa in Sacramento, said they did not talk to each other about Boland.
Collin Altamirano, who trains at the same club as Jenson
Brooksby, helped Virginia win the NCAA team title in all
three of his years in Charlottesville. Altamirano played for
Brian Boland, who was named Baylor's head coach in May
after one year with the USTA. Photo by Paul Bauman 
   Brooksby admitted that he and Altamirano, a 23-year-old pro, are "not very close, but we still talk often since we see each other a lot and go on a few road trips together. It's good to know that Collin was taught by Brian as well. It helped me a little bit."
   Altamirano helped Virginia win the NCAA team title in all three of his seasons in Charlottesville (2015-17). He bypassed his senior year to follow Boland, who's 574-90 (.864) in 21 years as a head coach, into the pro ranks.
   "I think the world of Brian," declared Altamirano, who has soared from No. 761 in the world at the beginning of the year to No. 285. "He always does what's best for the individual – not necessarily on the court, either. He wants the best for the individual in life, and he'll always make that the first priority.
   "I have all the respect in the world for Brian, and he'll do great things at Baylor. It'll be fun to watch that happen."
   Boland replaced Matt Knoll, who resigned with a 510-150 (.773) record in 22 seasons as Baylor's head coach. Knoll led the Bears to the 2004 NCAA team title and four additional NCAA semifinal appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2005.
   After reaching the NCAA round of 16 for 14 consecutive seasons, Baylor has lost in the second round in the past two seasons.
   "(Boland) has a great setup at Baylor," Altamirano asserted. "I loved Virginia. I think that school's incredible, but it's not as big of a sports school as Baylor. Brian is now at a place where he gets more respect in the tennis department than maybe Virginia gives. He might have the ability to do a little bit more with the tennis program. Give that guy an inch, and he's going to make a mile out of it."

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