South Effingham High School

Piedmont serves up scholarship for Jenkins

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May 1, 2014

By Paul Floeckher

Kristen Finlen first noticed Brent Jenkins’ talent on a tennis court when he was just 9 years old, at a clinic she was teaching.
“You could see the athletic ability and the drive, just at 9 years old,” said Finlen, now Jenkins’ tennis coach at South Effingham High School. “I was amazed.”
Jenkins signed a letter of intent Wednesday with Piedmont College in Demorest. He will attend Piedmont on an academic scholarship and play on its tennis team, which competes in NCAA Division III.
“I just liked the people there,” he said. “They all seemed down-to-earth, like we are here. It just seemed like the perfect college.”
From his first days playing tennis at that clinic Finlen taught, Jenkins has continually developed his game. He posted marks of 4-2 in singles and 7-1 in doubles as a sophomore at SEHS, and he progressed to a 15-2 record playing No. 3 singles as a junior.
Jenkins saved his best for his senior year. Playing No. 1 singles for the Mustangs, he takes a 19-2 record into today’s matchup with Eagle’s Landing in the Class AAAA state tournament Elite 8.
“I’m really proud of him and I’m really happy for him,” Finlen said. “He’s one of the hardest workers I think I’ve ever seen, so it means a lot to have somebody with that drive use every bit of talent he’s got and really come through with it.”
Jenkins played youth baseball and basketball as well, but focused solely on tennis when he began high school. Along with tennis being the sport he enjoys the most, he felt it gave him the best chance to earn a college scholarship.
He will play singles and doubles at Piedmont, as is typical for college tennis players. Jenkins said Lions head coach Shane Wood told him he will be in the starting lineup as a freshman, giving him an immediate opportunity to help the team while continuing to become a better player.
“I won’t be the top, but I’ll start somewhere,” he said. “I honestly don’t think I’ve lived up to my potential yet. That’s one of my goals going to Piedmont — I’m hoping I can reach my potential playing under Coach Wood.”
Jenkins has not decided which major he will pursue. He said he might follow an uncle’s path into orthopedic surgery, but for now he is keeping his options open.
“I feel like I’m interested in a lot of different things,” Jenkins said. “There’s no telling what I want to do.”


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