Saturday Apr 17 2010
Local tennis phenom hitting his way to the top
By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
Carson Williams ranked in top 50 nationally
Following his sixth-place finish at the United States Tennis Association National Open tournament, 14-year-old Granite Bay native Carson Williams is blazing a trail through Advantage Tennis Academy. Based in Irvine, ATA provides a training environment for high-level athletes like Williams poised for personal and national success. Along with his mother and sister Moorea, a senior at Advantage, Williams picked up his life and moved to Southern California in December of 2008. Working with Association of Tennis Professionals coach Jimmy Johnson, the young tennis star continues a family sport at the highest levels. Williams is climbing quickly trough the nation’s elite. When he first started working with Johnson at Advantage, Williams was ranked No. 640 in the nation. Now, he is at No. 49 and still climbing. At the Claremont National Open in February Williams took down four seeded players, winning 9-of-14 matches. Williams was introduced to the sport at the age of seven by his mother, and has since focused exclusively on tennis. In that time he has received multiple camp and clinic scholarships and has played as a member of the professional tennis team Babolat. He played an exhibition match at an ATP tournament and the number of trophies in his collection are too numerous to count. Williams was picked to film a “One Minute Clinic” for The Tennis Channel with professional tennis player Justin Gimelstob. Recruited to Advantage through a mutual friend and student, Williams said the academy is one of the best in the nation and said that he enjoys his training. “There are a lot of great players so I like to play against all types because it helps my game,” Williams said. “There have been a lot of players from ATA that have gone on to be very successful, so that’s great to think about too. Jimmy is also the best coach I’ve ever had and it’s really cool to be there.” As he approaches decisions about college in the next few years, Williams said his next major goal in that time is to play for a top 20 Division I university. His coach shares that confidence and prospective and has big expectations for the youthful talent. “After 20 years of doing this you start to notice someone with the right comments and questions and the right desire to impress,” Johnson said. “Immediately what I was impressed by in Carson was his commitment to his tennis. He’s a very no nonsense type of kid.” Johnson said he expects Williams to continue his progressive trend through the end of the year with a top 20 ranking. “He is definitely poised for a good tennis scholarship and a top national ranking,” Johnson said. “It will depend on him, but he’s a hard worker that loves the game and will definitely do whatever he has to.” Carson’s mother Heather knows his potential and talent better than anyone else having been supportively at his side from the beginning. She and Johnson are the driving forces behind Williams’ success. “Jimmy works with Carson on a daily basis and is truly the inspiration behind his success,” said Heather. “Meeting and joining forces with Jimmy has fast-tracked Carson’s tennis. I also have a very loving and supportive family including my parents and brother who support Carson 110 percent.” After meeting Jimmy while visiting family in the area a year and a half ago it became clear to Williams’ mother that Advantage was where he belonged. “Jimmy played an instrumental role in making things happen and eventually I made the decision to move lock, stock and barrel to Southern California,” she said. “It’s truly been the best decision I’ve ever made and I have seen Carson thrive and succeed beyond my wildest expectations. Without the right combination between athlete and coach in such an individualized sport the player cannot reach their full potential. That was the key component missing prior to meeting Jimmy but now I truly feel that the sky is the limit for Carson.” Williams’ sister Moorea readies to potentially accept a full-ride scholarship to such tennis universities as Eastern Washington, Westmont College and University of Southern Mississippi. Continuing in the tradition of his immediate family, Williams is on track for at least the same in years to come. According to his coach what makes Williams so special is his patience and intelligence at such a young age. “He has an off tempo pace that can be somewhat unnerving to competition so he has a maturity on the court not established by the majority of players,” Johnson said. “Williams has excellent defensive skills with quick, strong hands.” What’s next for the young Granite Bay star will be to further develop his aggressiveness, explosiveness and moving on up that ladder on the world stage.