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Brandon Yu's growth parallels Golden Valley tennis'

Posted: April 20, 2014 9:36 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2014 9:36 p.m.

Golden Valley's Brandon Yu.

 

Golden Valley boys tennis captain Brandon Yu doesn’t need to be big to dominate his competition.

But that doesn’t mean the junior is going to complain about growing a few more inches.

Last year as a sophomore, Yu led the Grizzlies to their first postseason appearance, making it to the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs before falling 16-2 to La Canada High in the first round.

Yu won one of his sets 7-5 but dropped his other two 3-6, 0-6.

It capped a year in which the Grizzlies took fourth place in the Foothill League and Yu finished the season with a 37-11 overall record.

And while the sophomore was good, there was something still missing from his game.

“What set him back was his physical size,” says Golden Valley head coach Josh Stimac. “He’s like a bumblebee on the court. He has incredible footwork. But he didn’t have the power to put some guys away.”

Yu agrees.

“I was a smaller kid growing up, so I overcompensated with my footwork and speed,” he says.

But over the last couple of years, Yu has grown five inches, making him about 5 feet 7 inches tall.

With that extra height comes something Yu didn’t have a lot of — power.

“Getting bigger has definitely opened up a whole new game,” Yu says. “Some of the other players I faced, I felt like I could have beaten more efficiently, but I didn’t have the power to do so. The last couple of years I’ve been relying on my speed. Now I can put guys away faster because I have more power behind my serves and shots.”

That added power has given one of the Foothill League’s best singles players another dimension on the court.

As he continues to incorporate this newfound power into his game, Yu doesn’t want to let the things that have carried him to this point slide.

His speed, footwork and hustle have been his trademarks, and he credits his father with setting that foundation early.

“Without my dad, I would honestly be nothing,” Yu says. “We still practice and he’ll still give me tips.
“We played one of the longest sets I’ve ever played in my life. It was like two or three hours. He’s old, but he doesn’t give up on the point. He grinds for every single ball and doesn’t give up at all. That’s where I get my determination.”

Steve Yu is a tennis instructor at the Northridge Tennis Club. A graduate of UC Riverside, Steve has given Brandon the base and tools that make him such a threat today.

The hard work has been paying off so far as Brandon is having another great season.

Yu is currently 29-5 and looking to make an even bigger push in the CIF-SS playoffs.

The physical attributes to lead his team back to the postseason are there, but what makes Yu such a tough competitor is his ability to grind for every point.

“People stop and watch him because he has so much heart,” Stimac says. “It’s fun to watch him play. He makes fans instantly.”

Stimac’s praise of his star junior didn’t stop there.

“I think Brandon is already one of the top two best we’ve had at Golden Valley,” he says. “It’s between him and Myles Moore (an All-SCV honorable mention in 2011). And I feel like if they were to play each other as high school juniors right now, Brandon would get the upper hand on Myles.”

That’s a lot of praise for a player yet to finish his junior year.

But as Yu’s game continues to evolve, he knows what he has to do to stay successful.

“First and foremost you have to practice,” he says. “I wasn’t so adamant about practicing before, but now I know that I have to in order to get back to the playoffs. Right now the main goal is to practice hard.”

As Yu continues to add height and muscle mass, it’s his small-guy mentality that will carry him and keep him motivated.

But that extra power sure makes things easier.

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