Junior Spotlight: Gavin Spencer
San Juan Capistrano junior tennis player Gavin Spencer learned a valuable lesson the hard way recently. A tourist location of a recent USTA Level 2 National event had Spencer feeling a little bit too relaxed when he says he should have been more focused on the court.
“Usually the destinations the USTA picks to hold these Nationals, it’s not an issue, but for this one it was,” said Spencer, of the tournament in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. “I got annihilated in singles and lost first round, but did get fourth in doubles. It wasn’t the time change, I was just unprepared. It’s tough to play a Nationals in Honolulu. It’s differentiating between a vacation and something that takes a lot of work.”
Of course the 18-year-old San Juan Hills High School senior knows there will be many more tournaments ahead and didn’t seem too bothered by the result the day before he was set to return home to the mainland. Spencer knows he has bigger things ahead, like completing his senior season and getting ready to head off to Tucson and the University of Arizona where he will continue his tennis career next fall. He chose the Wildcats over Loyola Marymount and San Diego State.
Spencer will wind down his SCTA junior tournament play with just a few more events, including this weekend’s J.P. Yamasaki Tournament and the SCTA Doubles Sectionals.
“I’m ready to transition into the pro level,” Spencer said. “But I always like playing the bigger SCTA tournament and the top local guys, and beating them.”
Spencer recently got a taste of big-time pro-level tennis when he won both the singles and doubles Wild Card Tournament into Hank Lloyd’s Fountain Valley ITF $15,000 Pro Futures Tournament.
“It’s a rare occasion to get into a pro event as a junior, but you really get to see the levels of play,” Spencer said. “It’s great that Hank holds these wild card tournaments.”
While he said he never expects to lose, Spencer knew he’d have a tough battle against a world top 450-ranked ATP player like Benjamin Lock, a former college star in Florida who was the tournament’s No. 2 seed.
“I had him down two-all and break point and had a pretty routine forehand put-away ball that I would normally make but missed it,” said Spencer, who fell to Lock in straight sets in front of friends and family. “You could say it was a turning point in the match.”
Spencer is currently training with Mitch Bridge at Jackson-Bridge Academy out of Los Caballeros.
Spencer is a self-described car geek. “I’m into all things cars and driving,” he said, adding his other hobby is golf. “I enjoy driving. Whenever I have a free weekend I love to take my Mercedes CLK 55 out for a drive.”
He said he minds the speed limit of 65 mph on the freeways, and tries not to exceed it, but it’s hard.
“I never get up to faster than 66 mph, or at least that’s what I tell my parents.”The USTA Southern California Section, which was founded in 1887, is one of the 17 sections of the United States Tennis Association. The USTA is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the game of tennis by offering quality recreational and competitive programs for people of all ages and abilities. Comprising Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties, the SCTA is one of the smallest in area of the USTA’s 17 sections. However, the Southern California section is one of the largest contributors of tennis talent and innovative programming.