Countdown: Like Jensen, 2011 Orange Have Star Power
by Ali Jones
, 1 November 2010
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Luke Jensen arrived at Syracuse University in 2006 with an ambitious vision for the women's tennis program: He wanted his players to become serious contenders on the pro circuit, but also leave with an academic degree that provided a future after their playing careers.
Four years later, Jensen's vision is playing out according to script: all his players are supplementing their college play with pro tour events, but they're also scoring well in the classroom. In fact, Jensen's Orange has the highest G.P.A. of any sports team on the Syracuse campus these past three years.
"The vision remains the same," said Head Associate Coach Shelley George. "It's very impressive to see an entire team devoting their lives and time to becoming professionals on the court and in the classroom."
Jensen used his own tennis history to fashion a program that stresses the enduring fundamentals of the game: hard work, dedication, discipline, drive, and a can-do attitude. As evidence of his success on court, he has 10 professional doubles titles, including the 1993 Roland Garros trophy. Serving lefty or righty at up to 130 mph, he confounded his opponents and has singles wins over top ten players, including Agassi, Sampras, Edberg, Courier, Connors and Borg.
With the same urgency and devotion to every job he does, he sought out four seniors - three of them are five-stars and one is a four-star - for the 2011 season and got verbal commitments. recruits are dazzled by Jensen's star power and resume, and are not cowed by his demanding program. The all eagerly embrace their future at Syracuse and beyond.
[Editor's note: These ratings are from when the girls committed in 2009-10. Coach Jensen encourages his players to quit playing junior tournaments and start playing open and futures events - resulting in drops in their junior rankings and ratings.]
As an infant on her way home from the hospital, Breanna Bachini's future was foretold.
looks forward to training with Coach Jensen
© Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net
"We're going to see her at Wimbledon," Tedd Bachini said at the time. That was in 1993, the year Luke and Murphy Jensen won their doubles title at Roland Garros. In 2010, Luke and Breanna crossed paths as Bachini verbally committed to play for the Orange.
She plans to major in communications, but "I want to get more than just going to college," the five-star recruit said. "I want to go pro, that's always been my plan and Luke, he's experienced and he's won the Grand Slam. Going to college with someone who's experienced all that is really important to me and I think it will be really good for my game."
The path that Bachini took to fulfill her tennis destiny has been a bit unorthodox. Mainly because of financial constraints, she's rarely ventured outside her home state of California to compete. In 2009, as a 16 year old at the 18s National Hard Courts at Berkeley, a number of college coaches expressed interest in her. As she and her family looked at her options, Luke Jensen loomed larger than the rest.
"We started reading what Coach Jensen is all about, his philosophy of the game, what he expects from the players, and his vision of what he wants to accomplish," Bachini said, "one of which [is that] he only recruits Americans because he wants to bring back the American players and see them excel in the game once again."
Needless to say, Jensen's path is exactly what Bachini wants to follow, path which she started with her father.
"[Dad] liked the individuality of tennis and he really thought it was a graceful sport for a girl," Bachini explained. "He just thought it would be a nice sport for me."
The Bachinis got up at 4:30 every morning to practice and finish up just in time for Breanna to make it to her public elementary school. By sixth grade, they decided to home school and now her day begins at 6:00 a.m.
"He did instill a lot of the motivation and discipline into me," Bachini said. "I think that really helps me carry on for myself now."
Mr. Bachini, a corrections officer at the maximum security Folsom State Prison, designed a training regimen based on what he saw inmates do to keep fit.
Bachini did burpees, push-ups while crawling across the floor, vertical push-ups and pull ups, all of which helped chisel her 120-pound frame.
She trains with Rich Andrews, corporate tennis director for Spare Time Tennis Clubs and academy director of the Rio del Oro Racquet Club.
To Syracuse the Roseville athlete will bring an "attacking game style and my physical conditioning. I never get tired and if I have to, I will wear my opponents down."