Brooke Beverley might as well have been born with a tennis racket in her hand.
Both of her parents played tennis. Her older brother and sister both played tennis. So when Beverley's mother took her to a tennis clinic when she was eight years old, it was no surprise how well she did.
"I really enjoyed it and did really well with it," Beverley said. "So they kept putting me in clinics. I eventually started taking private lessons from the same guy and kind of went from there."
Beverley, now a senior on BYU's Mountain West Conference defending champion tennis team, is happy to be where she is right now. Newly married to BYU track athlete Kish Beverley, Brooke took a different road to her spot on BYU's team.
It was clear, even at an early age, Beverley would succeed. Her quickness and aggressiveness on the court brought her awards and opportunities, and her personal coach Winston Gilzey brought out the best in Brooke.
In high school though, Beverley didn't do her only damage on the tennis courts. While at Caldwell High School in Caldwell, Idaho, Beverley excelled on the soccer field as well. She led her team to a second place finish at the state tournament and was a member of the all-state team.
But her first love was tennis and while Beverley received scholarship offers to play soccer in college, she chose the courts over the field.
"I liked them both, but I always knew I had better chances with tennis," Beverley said. "I had put more effort into tennis. I could do a lot more with it and so I decided to stick with tennis."
Beverley was recruited heavily out of high school. Local schools like BYU and Utah were joined by Kansas, Alabama and Illinois on the list of schools interested in Beverley's ability. Beverley was impressed with Illinois and its academic reputation, as well as its coach, Jennifer Roberts, and so she decided to head to the Midwest.
"One of the biggest reasons why I went to Illinois is I liked the team and the coach that recruited me," Beverley said.
Aside from the coach and the team, Beverley was excited about the opportunity to play at a big-name school in a big-name conference.
"It's a really good school and the Big Ten is just a great conference," Beverley said.
Illinois wasn't everything Brooke expected it to be though. Beverley knew she would be far away from her family and friends, but she had no idea she would be just as far away from the coach that recruited her.
When then head coach Roberts came to Idaho to visit Beverley in Idaho during a recruiting trip, she wanted to meet with Beverley's personal coach. Roberts made the trip into Boise to meet with Gilzey and the two coaches found more to talk about than just Brooke's tennis skills. The pair of coaches began dating and were married shortly thereafter, leaving a vacancy in the head coaching position at Illinois.
The Illini hired Sujay Lama and Roberts promised Beverley her tennis career at Illinois would hardly be affected. Unfortunately for Beverley, things didn't work out as she had hoped.
"I loved the team, but the coach came and it was just completely different," Beverley said. "It just wasn't what I thought it was going to be like."
Despite the adversity, Beverley played well her freshman year. She was nominated as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and played in the NCAA Tournament. Flying home from NCAAs, Beverley found herself in the Salt Lake Airport waiting for a commuter flight home to Idaho. Kish Beverley, who was flying home from his missionary service to Carlsbad, Calif., happened to be on the same plane.
"We both were from the Boise area," Beverley said. "He just happened to call three weeks after we got home."
The two spent the entire summer together dating, and when August came around, Brooke headed back to Illinois and Kish went back to Ricks College for their respective sophomore years. The long-distance relationship made Beverley's experience at Illinois that much harder.
"It was hard, but that's when I knew that if we could still keep in touch, it was meant to be and that we would eventually get married," Beverley said.
Kish became one of the biggest reasons why Beverley decided to transfer to BYU after her sophomore year. Kish transferred from Ricks at the same time, making the decision an easier one for Brooke. The couple was married this past summer.
Beverley admitted her now husband played a major role in her transfer to BYU, but church and family also influenced her decision.
"Being close to my family was important," Beverley said. "My parents are able to watch me play now. The Church had a lot to do with it too."
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when Beverley was at Illinois she attended a small branch of the church in nearby Urbana. The branch only had about 30 people attending and other members had slightly different reasons for being there.
"They were all in graduate school working on their Ph.D.s or their master's and I was just this little freshman at first," Beverley said.
So coming to BYU seemed like a logical fit for Beverley. After her sophomore year, Beverley was just looking for a different opportunity than she had at Illinois. She liked playing there, but the mentality at the school had changed and she felt like BYU was the best place to go for her junior year. Women's head coach Craig Manning played an important role in drawing Beverley to BYU.
"When I first met Craig, I just felt like he was so down-to-earth and friendly," Beverley said. "It was just what I was looking for. He's almost like a big kid and that's why everyone can get along with him so well."
In her junior season, Beverley took almost no time at all to fit in with the team. She teamed up with senior captain Jodi Richardson and the tandem became a nationally ranked doubles team.
"We really just had good chemistry on the court," Beverley said. "She was more of the steady finesse player. I think I added the power and the aggressiveness."
Richardson graduated after last season and now Beverley will have to play with a new partner. In pre-season tournaments, Beverly played doubles with three different teammates and isn't sure who her partner is going to be when the season starts, but she is still confident about the team's ability to perform this season.
"I think we are going to have a great year," Beverley said. "We definitely want to win the Mountain West Conference again and make it to the sweet 16 at NCAAs."
Individually, Beverley knows Manning will push her to perform her best.
"Craig has really helped me out, not so much with my strokes or my technique, but with the mental aspect of the game," Beverley said. "He's helped me be mentally tougher out there."
Beverley will need to be mentally tough during this next season. With her busy tennis schedule and her new husband's grueling track schedule, the two won't be able to spend much time with each other. Brooke's No. 1 fan will probably be on the other side of the country at a track meet.
"I'm sure we won't see each other a lot during the spring," Beverley said. "But the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives."
Now a senior, Beverley hasn't decided what exactly she will do when she graduates. Her husband's collegiate track career will end at the same time, but she will still be pursuing her degree in nursing. Beverley has played in professional tournaments before and hasn't ruled out trying her hand at the pro circuit. For now though, she wants to concentrate on the final season of her collegiate career.
"Individually, I just want to have a lot of fun, play my best and really go out with a bang," Beverley said.