Jenson Brooksby made headlines when he beat former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych in the first round at the U.S. Open. Brooksby, an 18-year-old up-and-comer who was relatively unknown going into the Open, got into the tournament after winning three matches in the week leading up to it and securing his spot, so the thought of him winning was on nobody’s mind. Now, Jenson Brooksby has a decision to make with regards to his future.
College or pro?
Being an unknown player, Jenson Brooksby had no plans of entering the pro circuit right out of high school. He is already committed to play tennis at Baylor starting next year.
Following his defeat of Berdych, however, a change of plans may do him well. Although the act of making it into the U.S. Open was reason enough for Brooksby to reconsider, winning that match added fuel to fire, and there are several reasons for him to consider going straight to the pros.
Jenson Brooksby the next young phenom?
While women’s tennis is ripe with young talent in Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, and Bianca Andreescu, the continued dominance of players like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer means that younger men are having a hard time breaking out of the pack as the new young superstar in men’s tennis. If Brooksby comes out of high school, this could very well be him.
Tennis is one of the few places where an American teenager can go pro before they even graduate high school, and stories of those who do, such as Gauff’s, tend to garner headlines and make their matches an event. This means that Brooksby has a chance to be a star at a very young age.
If Jenson Brooksby wants to get an education, his move to Baylor would make sense. He could hone his game and go to class at the same time. However, if he was only planning on going for his tennis, he cannot make money during his professional events.
By advancing to the second round of the U.S. Open, Brooksby would have made $100,000. However, if he wants to make that money he must renounce his amateur status and go pro.
While young basketball, baseball, and football players may receive large contracts young, tennis players can make their money right away if they simply perform out on the court, and even young tennis phenoms can go to school as non-athletic students.
Aside from the monetary value of going pro right away, if tennis is Jenson Brooksby’s true dream, he will never get the same level of competition in college as he would on the Pro Circuit. Dominating players with no chance of going pro will not mean the same thing as facing world-class professionals would, even if there are some hiccups in the road along the way. His continued hype after his second-round loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili is a testament to this.
Brooksby has a chance to play the best players in the world, and giving up on that could be risky.
If Brooksby did decide to go to college, there could be some good to come out of facing college opponents, learning from his coaches, and coming back as a professional in a few years.
However, there are also risks to this road. Tennis is a highly physical game that can take a toll on even its youngest players, and if the wrong thing happened while he was playing at a collegiate level, he could miss out on all the potential money he could earn by staying put.
Brooksby has a lot to think about as he thinks about his future. Is tennis his ultimate goal, or a means to education? If he’s somewhere in the middle, does he understand the risks of either side? What would happen if he waited and didn’t jump when the opportunity was right in front of him? Jenson Brooksby is riding high following his U.S. Open debut, but can he get even higher real soon?