Young gun focus: Jenson Brooksby

WHEN it comes to developing talent, the United States has no shortage of great young stars coming through the ranks. We take a look at the likes of American world number 81 Jenson Brooksby, who has taken the lower ATP Tour events by storm in 2021.

Based in Sacramento, California, 20-year-old Brooksby has had a breakout year on tour, despite earning his official maiden tour-level win all the way back in 2019. But despite plenty of potential, the then 18-year-old would not return to the ATP Tour until 2021, missing the season due to a toe injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic may have hit hard for many, for Brooksby it seemed to be exactly what he needed to hit the ground running in 2021.

It has been an impressive year for the 20-year-old, making his ATP Tour level season debut in Miami back in May but falling in the qualifiers before returning to the Challenger events for a few months, earning two titles – in Tallahassee and Orlando – to add to his Potchefstroom 2 title back in February and gaining some valuable confidence, earning a qualifying bout at the Roland Garros but falling at the Round of 128 hurdle to Aslan Karatsev.

He then made his official grass debut at the ATP 250 tournament in Newport and took the event by storm, defeating players far his senior – and far higher ranked, too – to book a spot in the final against then world 113 Kevin Anderson who has since levelled up to world number 68. Despite losing that clash in front of an excited and intrigued home crowd, an ATP 500 berth in Washington saw Brooksby once again step up to the task, this time defeating Anderson in the opening round before taking out experienced compatriot Frances Tiafoe and another talented youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime all in straight sets.

It was here that Brooksby proved he could not be underestimated, coming back again and again from hereon out and eventually earning a guaranteed entry at the US Open. But the young American was unfortunate to sit within the Novak Djokovic quarter of the draw, taking on the world number one during the fourth round. While Brooksby was able to steal the first set away from the champion Serbian and eventual runner up, he ran out of legs after playing 13 sets in the space of a few days, unable to contain his energy as he went down 6-1 3-6 2-6 2-6.

Throughout 2021, Brooksby holds an 11-5 record on the ATP Tour, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points on average and looking to improve his service rate with 45 aces to his 22 double faults. Brooksby has saved just over half (58 per cent) of his 103 break points faced, again with room to improve, and looking to develop his return rating winning just 27 per cent of his 208 return games for the season.

The 20-year-old American now sits at a career-high world number 81 following the US Open, with an impressive rise from as high as world number 310 on January 4, 2021. Not only that, but with a bit more development in him at the ATP level and less on the Challenger Tour, Brooksby will become even more of a threat, with his ability to consistently shock players and play above his level sure to pay off. Watch out for the 20-year-old, who turns 21 in October, because he is another young American chomping at the bit to get to that next level and will not stop until he gets there.


Picture credit: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

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