Every collegiate athlete starts their career with four years of eligibility, which in some instances can be lengthened to five or six years by redshirting or receiving a medical pardon.
All except one.
Junior Garrett Patton, son of Boise State men’s tennis head coach Greg Patton, has been a part of Boise State tennis since birth. Garrett was born the day the Pattons moved into their Boise home just after his father accepted the position of head coach, and he’s been playing, shagging balls and learning the game of tennis ever since.
Garrett graduated in 2011 from Boise High and spent much of his youth watching his father develop Boise State into a nationally recognized tennis powerhouse—Greg has won 15 conference titles in 18 seasons as head coach. Despite his strong family ties to the program, Garrett wasn’t a lock to attend Boise State after high school. Ranked as a top amateur in the country, Garrett had
“At first I wasn’t planning on going (to Boise State),” Garrett told The Arbiter. “My senior year of high school I started to get really close to the team, even more than I had in the past, and he (his father) kept beating it into me how good Boise State was, and then he talked trash about all of the other schools.”
Before ultimately choosing Boise State, Garrett was considering San Diego State, San Francisco, California and Santa Barbara.
Keeping tennis out of their relationship has been key for both Garrett and Greg since the beginning. At home, the two rarely talk tennis and on the court Greg often relies on assistant coaches to work with “G-man.” When the Broncos were still climbing the national rankings early this season, Garrett clinched an upset win over No. 21 Clemson with a three-set tie breaker on court four. As much as Greg tries to be Coach, instead of Dad, on the court, this one was a bit tougher to separate the two.
“When he was playing Clemson in our biggest match of the season I pulled myself far away from the court,” Greg said. “The thing is, he’s a thrill seeker. It’s in his genes to be fearless. Sometimes I feel that he does it on purpose to make the matches close at the end just so it comes down to his court because he has more fun. He loves the thrill.”
Greg and Garrett’s relationship hasn’t come without its challenges, either. In 2012, Garrett was arrested by Boise police and was charged with five misdemeanors including public intoxication, possession of marijuana and resisting and obstructing officers.
When Greg went to bail Garrett out of jail, Dad kicked coach to the curb.
“I love him. Hey, you made a mistake you’re going to suffer—there’s going to be a lot of suffering,” Greg said. “The coach had to discipline him, the legal system had to discipline him and the father protected him. As a father, I didn’t kick him in the butt, I supported him. When it comes to family, I’m going to take care of my boy.”
What came from Garrett’s incident was one of the best seasons of his career. Answering to coach and father was challenging, though.
“It was tough,” Garrett said. “It was a nightmare. That was the season I improved the most. I had to step up and grow up and work
Now, Garrett and Greg are contending for the first Division I national championship in school history side-by-side.
“I truly believe more than anything that suffering creates greatness,” Greg said. “Most of the people in the world don’t use suffering to become a better person. Do I think Garrett Patton has greatness written all over him? I absolutely do; on the court and in life. Did he make a poor decision? Yeah, he did, but he grew from it. He’s a man now. I look at him as a man. He was a boy then.”