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Fall Signing Week '13: Austin is Third Gator Blue Chip
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It's a tough call for super-achieving USTA juniors: College tennis? Or skip ahead to the professional tour?

Brooke Austin is heading to Florida
For Brooke Austin, a 17-year-old from Indianapolis, Indiana, it was hardly a stretch to see herself as a fulltime WTA competitor. She's held the top ranking in her TennisRecruiting class three of the past four years. And in 2013, she established herself as a top competitor on the Futures tour, rocketing up the rankings ladder to her current spot of No. 424 on the WTA computer.

But after weighing the decision from all angles, Austin concluded that college tennis would be the logical steppingstone to her dream of a professional tennis career. And so, at the end of October, Austin became the latest blue chip verbal commitment for Coach Roland Thornquist's reigning two-time NCAA champion Florida Gators. She will be joining two other Class of 2014 blue-chip recruits at Gainesville, Peggy Porter of Texas and Florida's Josie Kuhlman.

Florida was an easy sell for Austin: the coaches, her teammates, the campus - all matched her needs and expectations.

"The athletic and academic support was unreal," she said. "That was a big perk. I wanted the best academic support I can get and that was Florida. As for tennis, I felt it was a place where I could go and get better, develop my game further. I know pretty much all the girls, and I know how they all support each other. I really like that, and I'm excited to work with them and the coaches."

Bart Austin, Brooke's father, took his daughter's lead when it came to college selection.

"I do believe her choice to play at Florida is the perfect fit," he said. "The coaching staff believes in her, supports her ambition to play professionally and is committed to develop her skills for success, both on and off the court."

Austin's longtime coach, Jeff Smith, believes that college tennis will allow his prize pupil to thrive as a person and as a student.

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