For most, Senior Day represents the end of four years of hard work. For Garrett Patton, it will commemorate 20 years of moments on Boise State’s tennis courts.
The only son of Greg Patton, the Broncos’ longtime coach, Garrett is the lone senior on a team that has struggled more so than any of his fathers’ teams. But he has thrived in his final season.
At No. 1 singles, Garrett is 11-2 this season and 20-9 overall for Boise State, in the midst of its only losing year in Greg’s 20th season at the helm.
“He’s been the shining light,” Greg said. “That’s me as a coach, not as his dad. We’ve had a lot of adversity, and he’s trying to will this team to win almost on his own.”
Garrett has won 10 of his last 11 matches heading into the Broncos’ final home duals Saturday against Utah State (10:30 a.m.) and Idaho (5:30 p.m.).
Though it has been tough to have his team go 10-15 while losing two of its top players early on, he has relished being the team leader while playing the best tennis of his life.
“I’m treating it like any other match, but it’ll be special because I’ve been watching or playing here since I was 3 years old, looking up to those guys at No. 1,” Garrett said. “When we’ve won, it’s made me incredibly happy. I’m out there with my best friends and I have the best coach I could ask for.”
After jumping up from No. 4 singles as a junior to No. 1 this season, Garrett’s play has matched the move. His confidence has been high and unwavering — take his 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over Fresno State’s Nikolas Papic, when trailing 2-0 early, leaned to his father and said “I’ve got this.”
His consistency, along with a bit of a swagger in the face of a trying season for most of the team has helped alleviate the stresses of losing while helping prepare the young team for what’s ahead.
“Any time a guy graduates, it breaks your heart, but this is tearing at my soul. I almost dread it, but I know it has to happen,” Greg said. “One of the things that’s made me most proud is that he’s helped establish a standard.”
Once his college career is over, Garrett will work this summer as a pro in Nantucket, Mass., then seek out a career on the professional touring circuit. For his father, whose own father passed away at a young age and didn’t have the resources to play as a pro, Greg said it is especially sweet because “Garrett’s kind of living my dream, too.”
“There’s no way you can’t get better in this program,” Garrett said. “It’s always been family for me, I want it to continue to be strong and have another guy like me and the ones before me step up, be leaders when I’m gone.”
One of the front-runners for Mountain West Player of the Year honors, Garrett could finish the regular season unbeaten against league foes with a win against conference-leading Utah State (coached by former Bronco standout Clancy Shields) and get his 89th career win against Idaho.
“It’s been pretty magical ... he’s got to put an exclamation point on it,” Greg said.