Monticello senior Jacob Baber recently made the decision to attend William & Mary next year. The Mustangs' tennis captain says school is his main focus, but he plans to keep playing tennis in college because he's become so passionate about it over the last four years.
When a new head coach took over the Monticello tennis program this year, Baber quickly showed his enthusiasm for the sport and his team.
"The first day that I was there, Jacob was the first person to come up and talk to me about coaching the tennis team," says Monticello head coach Andrew Buchholz. "Instantly, I could tell from when I first met him that he was a great kid and a great tennis player."
Over the course of four years, Baber has become the clear leader of the Mustangs, both vocally and on the tennis court.
"I'm really happy to have gotten to the point where I am now," he said. "I really just started tennis at the start of my high school career. To get to number one, to be captain with these guys, and to just have all that experience behind me and play, it's really nice and it's really fun."
Baber has enjoyed the challenge of improving his tennis game while taking on the challenge of balancing sports and school. The senior has taken 12 Advanced Placement courses at Monticello and still managed to keep a 4.62 grade-point-average.
"We come out here first thing right after school," Baber says of his tennis schedule. "We go until six o'clock. We work hard and we play hard. When it comes to our matches, those things can go on for a while depending on who we're playing, but I have fun at them regardless."
For Baber, the relationship between academics and athletics has been mutually beneficial.
"Obviously he's very intelligent in the classroom, but that intelligence definitely translates to the tennis court, where he can focus on himself and his own match and play smart," said Buchholz.
"I've always pushed myself even in early grade school up until now, I've always wanted to be a top academic prospect," said Baber. "Going out here and playing tennis, it just helps relieve some of that stress, meet new people, and just have fun really."