Jackson Allen, a Shakopee, Minnesota native, has seen his dreams come true since arriving at the University of Minnesota.
Allen ranked 19th best in his recruiting class before coming to Minnesota and 31st in the United States Tennis Association 18-and-under rankings. Allen earned all-conference accolades five times and won the 2016 Minnesota class 2A championship in 2016. He also earned a scholarship from the Gophers for his efforts.
“I don’t think there is anyone that has come in with so much love for this school from the get-go,” said senior Felix Corwin.
Allen comes from an athletic family. His mom played tennis at Gustavus and St. Cloud State and his dad played basketball at Gustavus. He also has a cousin, Sarah McCrady, who was a part of the swim and dive team here at Minnesota and his great uncle, Joe Smith, played football for the Gophers in 1975.
“I chose Minnesota because they have had a successful tennis program, making the NCAA tournament almost every year since 2000,” Allen said. “I grew up as just a fan of the whole athletic department for the Gophers.”
Allen said his family has been season ticket owners to football and basketball games since he was young. He credits his parents and coaches for getting him where he is today. He and his mom played tennis together when he was younger, and he could never beat her. When he was 12, he beat her and hasn't played her since.
Allen enrolled in the spring of 2017 and did not play. Instead, he took the semester to help adjust to life in college and get a grip on how the tennis season will work.
“It was cool to be on campus. I got to see what an entire season looks like and feels like,” Allen said. “I’m glad I got used to the flow of everything and not thrown into the fire right away.”
Corwin played with Allen in the first tournament of the season while his normal partner was off at another tournament that weekend. Corwin and Allen advanced to the finals in Milwaukee a month ago and ended up losing.
“Allen is a lot bigger than [senior Matic Spec], my original partner, so he can really cover a lot of ground and he also has really good hands,” Corwin said. “But, it is the energy he plays with that is so easy to work with, he never gets down.”
He will have the leadership of seniors Corwin and Spec to help him on his way as he becomes just as successful as those two seniors. Both seniors have been named all-Big Ten and have had their fair share of wins. They know how to get the job done and see the same things in Allen that they see in themselves.
“For a guy like Allen, it is really easy to instill the things we want out of our team because he brings a ton of energy on the court and love for the game,” Corwin said. “He is a great guy to have on the tennis court.”