Former La Jolla Country Day tennis star Wood caps college career with a bang
Warren Wood was a budding prep tennis star with offers from several Division I schools when he decided to attend Claremont McKenna College, a Division III school known more for academics than athletics.
“It was a just a really tight-knit group,” Wood said. “Everyone on the team was really good friends, and that was something that was important to me.
“It’s stayed true until today.”
And Wood cites that camaraderie as a key factor in the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps tennis team’s just-completed historically successful season.
Last month, Wood, who grew up in Del Mar and went to La Jolla Country Day, helped lead CMS to its first NCAA championship since 1981 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. Wood went on to win national singles and doubles championships in the same week.
Wood, who just completed his senior year, is just the second player in Division III history to win all three legs of the collegiate tennis Triple Crown.
“It was quite a week,” he said.
Especially because Wood defeated teammate Skyler Butts to win the singles championship. He won the match 6-1, 6-4.
“There was definitely an interesting dynamic going into the match,” Wood said. “We’d warmed up together that morning.”
The team championship was especially rewarding because CMS had lost in the finals in each of the previous two seasons, leaving Wood feeling he’d let down his graduating teammates.
“I just really wanted to do it for the younger guys on our team and for the guys who’ve already graduated,” Wood said.
“They didn’t have a chance to be on (this year’s) team, but they helped develop all of the players who were still on the team, so it was for the recent alums.”
Wood considers his most recent accomplishment to be the high point of a career that includes winning the Ojai tournament last year and the Level 2 Junior National tournament in Lakewood when he was 16.
He defeated Mackenzie McDonald, UCLA’s No. 3 singles player, who was two years younger, in the Juniors tournament. McDonald is expected to turn professional soon.
“At the time he was 14, but that was still a great win for me,” Wood said. “He’s a really good player and he’s always wanted to go pro.”
Wood, in all likelihood, will not turn professional. He’ll continue to play open tournaments for some prize money, but said he understood at the time the decision to attend Claremont probably shut the door on a professional career.
“I loved the school, the team and the coach,” he said of his decision to choose Claremont, “but I also realized that I didn’t think I was going to be a professional tennis player, so I chose the best school for me — the one that fit the best, not necessarily the one that was going to push my tennis to the highest level.”
But Wood has competed against several players who are at the highest level. He used to train with current professional Stevie Johnson, who won his first round match last month at the French Open and is the 56th ranked singles player in the world.
“I never played him in a full set, but I beat him in a mini-game here and there,” Wood said. “That’s about it.”
Wood, who majored in economics and psychology, plans to pursue a career in marketing.
He has played tennis since he was practically a toddler on a court in his backyard. Both his parents play competitively. His father, Kevin, is a former semiprofessional racquetball player.
Wood credits his longtime coach Jack Broudy with playing a big role in his development. Broudy, who’s coached Wood since he was barely able to pick up a racket at age 4, emphasized technique in a way that was accessible to Wood.
“He’s kind of a laid-back surfer with a kind of guru vibe going on,” Wood said. “He really shaped the player who am today.”
Wood got his first taste of competitive tennis as a 7-year-old in the national “Little Mo” tournament. He believes the exposure to the sport at a young age and his experience playing on the tournament circuit paid dividends in his collegiate career.
“I think a lot of kids at (the collegiate) level, once you get to that point at nationals, you start thinking a lot about it and you can get a little bit tight, a little bit nervous,” Wood said. “I think that actually happened to a couple of my opponents.”
He said he’s taken on some of the laid-back persona of his coach, which he believes helps him stay focused in a nerve-wracking game.
Wood acknowledged that in previous years, he was nervous at the national tournament. Not this year.
“I wasn’t nervous this week,” he said. “This year I was really just excited about it. I was going to out there have fun see what happens.”
It worked out pretty well.
“It was great leaving with a bang as a senior,” he said. “Everything kind of fell into place.”
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