Senior captain Becker O’Shaughn-essey and his doubles partner, sophomore Grayson Goldin, were staring at a 1-3 deficit against Vanderbilt on a hot Sunday afternoon. The wind that usually blows through the Alabama Tennis Stadium was nonexistent. The crowd was focused on the action on court two, waiting to see if Alabama’s lone senior could rally in his final home match.
Spurred on by the crowd, Becker and Goldin did just that. Winning 6-4 for Alabama’s ninth straight doubles win, Becker was on his way to a solid send off, but he wasn’t able to get the singles win.
“I was really excited to play one last match here and looking forward to it, but also not looking forward to it because it’s going to end,” Becker said. “It didn’t end the way I wanted, both as a team and individually, but we just have to bounce and rebound from that.”
He started playing tennis at 11 years old which, compared to his counterparts, had him behind a couple years experience-wise. Despite that, Becker had plenty going for him when he picked up a racket competitively, including some good genes that played in his favor.
Becker’s father, John, played junior tennis in Georgia until the age of 16. At his peak, he was No. 7 in the state of Georgia. Once he met his wife, Gena, his days of playing tennis competitively were over for the most part. His love for the game never disappeared, however, as he still plays in some adult USTA leagues competitively.
“He basically got me hooked,” Becker said. “He motivated me and really built a drive in me and has always been there for me.”
As Becker grew up in Macon, Georgia, his father’s love for tennis began to rub off on him and intensify. Still, he never really progressed past hitting the tennis ball around for fun.
When he was 11, a tennis professional named Craig Jones moved to Macon. He had a son who was Becker’s age, giving Becker a talented tennis player for a new friend.
“He was very good at the time, and Becker saw that and that was kind of a magnet,” John said. “Becker kind of started to think, ‘Gosh, can I ever be that good?’ and it lit a fire under him. He started getting better and better, and I would play with him, but by the time he was 15, he was beating me.”
Together, Jones and John started to help Becker forge a competitive career. As a high school player, Becker excelled. He was a four-time Georgia Independent School Association individual and team champion and a four-time Telegraph Middle Georgia High School Player of the Year. As a five-star recruit and the No. 1 recruit in Georgia and No. 25 recruit in the country according to TennisRecruiting.net, Becker had plenty of options for school, but Tuscaloosa drew his attention.
“When I first stepped on campus, it was beautiful and the atmosphere here with all of the sports was great,” Becker said. “The coaching staff here is great, and I really fit in well with the team when I visited, so everything just kind of clicked and I knew right away, right after I left, that this was home.”
The O’Shaughnessey family wanted Becker to play tennis at a top school. However, that wasn’t the main thing that went into the final decision. They looked at the tennis team, size, geographic location, academics and campus, but the main goal was to find a school where Becker would feel the most comfortable.
Becker was a freshman during the 2012-13 season, which was also coach George Husack’s first season. He was recruited by Billy Pate, the winningest coach in Alabama program history. Pate left Tuscaloosa to become the coach of the Princeton Tigers. Despite the coaching change, Becker never thought about leaving Alabama.
“He did make his decision based on more of an overall school feeling,” his mother, Gena O’Shaughnessey, said. “We had heard over the summer that there would be a new coach, but his decision was more based off of the school than the coach. There was never any quivering in his commitment.”
He quickly established himself once arriving on campus. He was Second Team All-SEC and part of the SEC All-Freshman Team in his first season. As a sophomore, Becker was Second Team All-SEC, an ITA Doubles All-American, an ITA Scholar-Athlete and part of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. His junior season saw him named an ITA Scholar Athlete a second time, and for his senior season, the team voted him captain.
“He’s not the loudest guy, but he definitely has stepped up big as a leader,” Husack said. “He’s always putting in extra time, always helping out other guys, and always works as hard as he can. He leads by his example, is a fierce competitor, and he sets the bar for the team.”
Becker doesn’t need to be loud. His team believes his actions speak volumes.
“Becker is probably the toughest guy on the team,” junior Hayes Brewer said. “He’s an animal, and we know no matter what, he’s going to last longer than all of us in the weight room and on the court. He’s a good guy that we can rely on no matter what.”
Becker has earned the respect and admiration of his whole team, and it isn’t just in his role as a leader. Brewer has been his roommate for two years and feels that part of what makes him a good leader is that he is a great friend.
“I know that he would have my back no matter what,” Brewer said. “He always has the team’s best interests at heart.”
The future is unclear for Becker. He has played tennis professionally in the last few summers, where he has had some success.
“I always told myself that I’d give myself at least a year to try pro tennis and see how I did,” Becker said. “If things worked out that’d be great. If not, it’d be a good experience and a good excuse to travel the world.”
If not, Becker plans …read more
Source:: The Crimson White Sports