BERKELEY – California signed two of the top players from the Golden State – William “Billy” Griffith and J.T. Nishimura – to National Letters of Intent, head coach Peter Wright announced on Wednesday.
It won’t be the first time that Nishimura and Griffith have been teammates. They teamed up to play doubles in the 2013 USTSA Boys’ 18 and 16 National Championships in August. The newest Golden Bears reached the boys’ 18 semifinals and ultimately finished in fourth place at the tournament held in Kalamzaoo, Mich.
Griffith, who hails from Fresno, Calif., is one of the best players to come out of the central valley. The Tennis Recruiting Network ranks the Clovis West High School product as the third-best recruit in the nation and the second-best recruit from California. Last June, the Fresno Bee named Griffith its Boys Tennis Player of the Year after he compiled a 27-1 singles record and 19-1 doubles mark.
In his first International Tennis Federation event last March, Griffith won the singles final of the 2013 Claremont ITF over current UCLA freshman Gage Brymer, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5). In early 2013, he reached the boys’ 18 consolation singles final in the USTA National Winter Championships, and in 2012, Griffith won the boys’ 16 singles consolation bracket at the USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo.
“It's exciting for us to have a player of Billy's caliber join our team,” Wright said. “He's been one of the top-ranked junior players in the USA, and I feel he has even more upside on the college level. In addition to being a great tactician in singles, he is also a very strong doubles player.”
A San Francisco Bay Area native from San Jose, Calif., Nishimura is ranked 44th in the nation and 10th in the state by the Tennis Recruiting Network. Most recently, Nishimura did not lose a set in winning the singles championship at the USTA Regional Tournament Segment at the Seascape Country Club in Aptos, Calif., after likewise winning every set in his run to the singles title at the USTA Regional Tournament Segment in Stanford, Calif. Additionally, Nishimura reached the doubles final in each tournament.
He currently attends Piedmont Hills High School in the south bay.
“J.T. is one of the best ball strikers in the country,” Wright said. “Combine that with his outstanding work ethic and athletic ability, and we believe he is going to be an instant contributor in both singles and doubles.”
The current Bears return to action when they host the University of San Francisco on Jan. 21 at the Hellman Tennis Complex.