May 26, 2010

By Andy Johnston
Special to

ATHENS, Ga. - Jarmere Jenkins was determined not to let UCLA's Matt Brooklyn beat him twice in the same week.

So the Virginia freshman took what he learned from his singles loss in the team tournament and defeated Brooklyn 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Wednesday in the first round of the singles portion of the NCAA Division I Men's Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

"It was very tough, but the advantage was for me because I knew what to do," Jenkins said. "I knew where his strengths were, I knew what his weaknesses were, and it was good to kind of start off the match that way, as opposed to last time, when I was working my way into the match and then trying to figure it out."

Jenkins will play Mississippi's Marcel Thiemann in the second round after Thiemann upset fifth-seeded Austin Krajicek 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday. The tournament began on Wednesday with 32 first-round singles and matches, and will wrap up on May 31. The doubles competition begins Thurday.

Brooklyn defeated Jenkins 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the team tournament on Sunday, giving UCLA one of its two points in the 4-2 loss to Virginia.

The Cavaliers advanced out of that round, but lost to eventual national champion Southern California in the semifinals on Tuesday.

That gave Jenkins a day to recharge and refocus and prepare for his first national singles tournament.

Jenkins won the first set on Wednesday, and was leading the second 5-3 when he rolled his right ankle going to the net, needing just three points to finish off Brooklyn. Jenkins sat on the court for a few minutes while Virginia's trainer attended to him before moving to the bench to be re-taped during a medical timeout.

He said the injured ankle didn't slow him down, but he lost the next two games, before moving ahead 6-5. Brooklyn tied the set at 6-all before Jenkins went up 6-3 in the tiebreaker with a strong serve that resulted in a feeble return. He then forced Brooklyn to hit into the net on match point.

"For some guys, (rematches are) extremely motivating," Virginia coach Brian Boland said. "In Jarmere's case, he knew he was a little bit off that night against UCLA. Jarmere had to play better today than he did (Sunday). I think he learned a lot from the last time he played (Brooklyn). I think he tried to press during the team tournament. I think he was able to play a little bit more of his own game today and work his way into the match."

Boland said Jenkins bounced back well after the semifinal loss to Southern California.

"He struggled a little bit with his concentration throughout the match, but he's hitting the ball well," he said. "I'm glad he was able to get through the match because I think that will help him put the team tournament behind him a little bit. I thought he did a good job trying to refocus, but it's always difficult after such a tough loss against USC."

Jenkins grew up in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, which is about 75 miles from Athens, but lived in South Florida during his teen years, crafting his tennis skills playing juniors matches around the world while he was home-schooled. He signed with Virginia in 2009 and spent his freshman season helping the Cavaliers reach the No. 1 ranking.

His mother Brenda Jenkins made the drive to Athens this week to watch Jarmere play and was there to congratulate him when he walked off the court on Wednesday. Jarmere Jenkins said he doesn't make it home too often, but plans to visit once the tournament is over.

"I haven't been there in five or six months," he said. "College keeps me on the road."