Senior Jared Judson of the Dublin Jerome High School boys tennis team didn't have any reason to believe that he'd develop into a successful player when he picked up the sport as a seventh-grader.

Senior Jared Judson of the Dublin Jerome High School boys tennis team didn't have any reason to believe that he'd develop into a successful player when he picked up the sport as a seventh-grader.

Judson was the last player selected to be on Grizzell Middle School's 12-player team, and he didn't win many matches his first season.

"When I started playing tennis, most of the guys at my school already had five extra years of experience ahead of me and it was tough to compete with them," he said. "I just wanted to play tennis for fun, and that first year my goal was just to keep the ball in. Back then, I was thinking that if I worked real hard, I might make our high school's junior varsity team someday."

After attending tennis clinics and playing several matches year-round, Judson played first doubles as an eighth-grader and went on to play first doubles for Jerome's j.v. squad as a freshman.

His game finally began to blossom the summer following his freshman season when he started taking private lessons from Jake Dowdell, who taught him a wider variety of shots and strategies.

As a sophomore, Judson earned a spot on varsity playing second doubles. Last season, he moved up to first doubles with Alex Hessler, and the duo produced a 16-1 record in dual matches.

Judson played well enough in challenge matches this season to earn a position playing singles. Through eight matches, he was 3-2 at first singles, 1-0 at second singles and 2-0 at third singles.

"It's pretty rare to see a kid do as well as Jared has after starting tennis relatively late, because generally the top of our lineup is filled with kids who have played since they were younger than he was when he started," coach Tyler Stephen said. "He's done a remarkable job of improving at a quick rate and now he's beating kids who he couldn't compete with a year or two ago."

Judson wins the majority of his matches using a serve-and-volley technique. The left-hander has an effective slice serve that spins to an opponent's backhand instead of his forehand.

When an opponent weakly returns one of his serves or approach shots, he charges the net to try to finish the point with a volley.

"I'm a scrappy player and I like to play different than everyone else and make my opponent think more instead of just going for winners," Judson said. "I position my serve to get an easy volley, because the ball spins the opposite way that most people are expecting. Basically, my game plan is to make the other guy hit about 100 backhands per match because most people have a much stronger forehand compared to their backhand. I've also gotten a lot better at picking my spots to finish a volley at the net over the past few years."

Judson has improved so much that he was recruited by a handful of Division II and III colleges last summer and fall. He recently chose to play at Capital after receiving multiple academic scholarships from the school.

"If you would have asked me a year or two ago, I never would have dreamed that I'd get the opportunity to play first singles at Jerome or play college tennis," he said. "Ever since I started playing tennis, everyone has had about five years extra experience, so I've been working extra hard and racing the clock to try to catch up with them. This year, I feel like I've finally caught up with a lot of the better players I've been chasing since seventh grade."

Judson, who has a 3.957 GPA, attributes his work ethic to his parents, David and Lisa, and his older brother, Cameron. He also said that his younger sisters - Katelyn, Noelle, Sarah and Megan - have inspired him to be grateful for everything he has and to make the most of his abilities.

"All four of my sisters were adopted from China, and they have taught me to appreciate what I have every day, including having the opportunity to be on a tennis court," he said. "They've taught me to be patient and to think outside the box. I wouldn't be where I am without the help of my family."