Brotherly love on Roseville courts
And to think this all started when Brigitte and Jim Mayo put their son, Keenan, “in a little tennis camp.”
The idea three years ago was to give Keenan, then 8 years old, something to do over summer vacation while his parents worked during the day.
Today, the Roseville parents are preparing to send Keenan, 11, to the USTA National Winter Championships in Arizona and the Orange Bowl International Championship in Florida.
In October, they’ll send younger son Aidan, 8, to the Little Mo Nationals in Texas.
Young star athletes happen. But these Mayo boys?
Vitaly Gorin of the Gorin Tennis Academy in Granite Bay says Keenan and Aidan are among the best in their age groups … nationally.
“To come out of one little town and on top of that be brothers …,” Gorin says. “They transitioned in one year from being pretty good players to being incredible players. They live for this stuff. They live and breathe it.”
Keenan is on his way to perhaps catching dad Jim, who stands 6 feet 7½ inches. The boys also apparently have been blessed with sports genes from each side of the family. Brigitte says Jim played basketball at Colgate University. His sister, Suzanne, played basketball for powerhouse Connecticut during the Rebecca Lobo era. Brigitte played tennis.
Keenan and Aidan have played baseball, basketball and soccer. But from the first time Keenan put a racket in his hands, tennis has been his racket since — with Aidan tagging along.
“Like literally the day he started, he just wanted to go out to the courts and train,” Brigitte says, recalling Keenan’s introduction to the sport three years ago. “My little 5-year-old, Aidan, would come out with us and do the same thing. They basically didn’t want to do anything else.”
That hasn’t changed. The brothers have trained at the Gorin Tennis Academy for a year. Their coach, Artem Petushkov, says Keenan and Aidan simply have a knack for the game. They’re easy to work with and learn quickly.
“They’re just great students,” Petushkov says. “Their work ethic is exceptional. That is the reason why they’ve progressed so quickly. They’ve really been able to dive into the stuff we’re teaching and adapt to it quicker because of their dedication to it.
“Usually, one brother is going to be much better than the other, but these guys, they’re both on a great path. It’s very rare to see a family of both players playing so well.”
Aidan won the Little Mo NorCal Sectional and, most recently, Regional tournaments, Gorin says, pointing out that Andy Roddick won the same event as an 11-year-old.
“I just like playing tennis,” says Aidan, who sports a bandana like his hero, Rafael Nadal.
Gorin says Keenan is shooting for the main draw at the Orange Bowl, though he’ll be a year younger than most of his competitors. Keenan is playing for one, the experience; and two, because he’s deserving.
“One of the reasons we need the exposure is because we truly think he’s going to have a shot at the whole thing next year, and when you have a shot, I don’t want it to be your first year,” Gorin says. “I don’t want you to feel like a guest; I want you to feel at home.”
Keenan enjoys the tennis atmosphere, the training and winning. He’s looking forward to his first trip to Florida.
“I just like doing this,” he says.
Contact Bill Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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