Brooksby US Open Bound

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG)  |  Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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Tennis player Jenson Brooksby demonstrates the sledge-hammer backhand that helped secure the National Junior Men’s Championship this month. His success is supported by parents Glen and Tania Brooksby. Havanese puppy Zsa Zsa is also a fan.

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Jenson is supported by his parents Glen and Tania and their dog Zsa Zsa.

Jenson Brooksby to Compete in US Tennis Open

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - National Junior Men’s Tennis Champion Jenson (J.T.) Brooksby barely recalls the first time he played tennis. “I was four years old,” he says. “I knew I liked grabbing a racquet and hitting a ball.”

“Around nine, I started playing in tournaments. I enjoyed other sport but most of all, I loved the solo aspect of tennis. The results are solely up to you. By the time I was six, my parents and I were travelling for tournaments. I loved seeing new places and I started to think about tennis as a career.”

One match at a time, that dream is coming true. The 17-year-old Carmichael athlete recently beat 256 others to the top of his national division. Beyond trophies, the victor’s big prize is to cross racquets with some of the world’s best players when he debuts as a “wild card” entry in the US Open Tennis Championships this month. On the hallowed courts of Flushing Meadows, the teenager will experience international competition at its toughest. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he says. “I’ve never played at this level before. This is what I’ve been training hard for – for a very long time.”

Jenson has come far from pre-school tuition at Arcade’s Rio del Oro Racquet Club. Early regarded as a prodigy, he’s had five lessons a week since the age of seven. These days, he plays four hours of tennis daily and works out in a gym for another hour. To accommodate the regime, he’s been home-schooled since sixth grade. “Learning at home teaches you to manage your time,” says the student whose homework gets done in airports and hotel rooms. “You miss out on the social aspect of school, but I still interact with other tennis players – male and female.” Dating, he considers, can wait till college.

Following offers from many top US schools, he recently accepted a full athletic scholarship from Texas Christian University. For now, graduating high school is a priority. Jenson is a straight-A student who learns online for four hours a day; his other classroom is a hard court at Arden Hills Resort, Carmichael. Here Joseph Gilbert – regarded as one of the top junior coaches in the US – runs the JMG Academy for 40 teenagers who aspire to play college and pro tennis.

“Jenson is one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever taught, says Gilbert. “His ability to focus for long periods sets him apart. There’s an innocent side to him: he’s good-hearted and always wants to do the right thing. Off-court, he’s laid back; once he’s on-court, his intensity takes over. In Flushing, I just want him to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the moment and have this level of competition as a consistent goal.”

Coach Gilbert will accompany Jenson to New York. Anesthesiologist dad Glen Brooksby and equestrian mom Tania will also join the pilgrimage. “My parents are a huge part of my dream,” says their only child. “For so many years of tournaments, mom and dad have traveled with me. They’re at least as important to my success as my coach. Every match I’ve won, they’ve won it with me.”

Along with his opportunity to face international professionals next week, Jenson will also compete in the US Open junior championships. As a “wild card” entry to the main event, he does not yet know whom he will meet on court. “Whoever it is, I’m ready to test myself,” he predicts. “I’m not focused on the results. I’m focused on improving my game.”

The US Open Tennis Championships run from August 27 to September 9.