Jeff Bramlett is a man of his word.
When he came to Granbury eight years ago, he promised then Granbury High Principal Marsha Grissom he would take the program to the next level.
Much like football and volleyball were at the time, fall team tennis was little more than a way to pass the time until basketball started.
Now, however, like football and volleyball, fall means GHS team tennis advancing to the postseason.
Before Bramlett, regional appearances for team tennis were more rare than Dallas Cowboys playoff victories. Now he exits having led the team to three consecutive regional appearances, believed to be a first in school history.
Bramlett is leaving to become the head coach at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall. It’s a terrific move for him and one well-deserved (even though it does require living in Marshall).
It’s a chance for him to fulfill his dream of coaching in college. And he’ll do a great job there, just as he’s done everywhere he’s been.
You might recall that before coming to Granbury, Bramlett coached one of the premier programs in the state at San Antonio Alamo Heights. His teams won eight team tennis state titles, and he coached numerous spring individual and doubles champions.
“I was just sitting here reflecting with coach (Denise) Scott, and it’s been a great ride,” said Bramlett.
In all, Bramlett’s teams at Heights and Granbury made 19 trips to regionals and a dozen to state. This past spring he coached his own daughter Kate and her partner Elizabeth Morton to state, the first GHS players to reach that plateau in five decades.
This year’s team finished 14-8, believed to be a school record for victories.
“You put it in all in perspective and it’s a pretty good batting average,” he said. “But I’m most proud of what we’ve done here at Granbury, especially with no junior high program.”
MORE WITH LESS
Many of the state’s most successful tennis programs have a junior high feeding program. The closest Bramlett had in Granbury was a junior high tennis class – and he said that went by the wayside a few years ago.
“It was never a true junior high program. It was PE tennis,” he said. “But we got a lot of mileage out of it. Some of those kids are playing in college now.”
My own daughter Kinsley was in that class for a couple years. Even though her focus has shifted from tennis to theater, she still considers Bramlett one of her “all-time favorite teachers” and got a little misty eyed upon learning he is leaving.
“They become a part of you, like a part of your family,” Bramlett said of his players. “I know it’s time to move on, but a certain part of me doesn’t want to give it up.
“It’s going to kill me not being here in the spring for Kate’s final season. These kids are going to call me and tell me about how they are doing, and that’s going to be a bittersweet feeling.”
Bramlett will be missed for more than his success on the court. He is simply a class act, one of the greatest guys you’ll ever meet, and it’s no wonder kids want to play their best for him.
Alongside covering his high school tennis team, I worked closely alongside him the past few years orchestrating our Hood County News Tennis Festival. He was a driving force behind making it a successful event.
But now it’s time to take those qualities to the college level and build a program in Marshall. I’ve no doubt that even though it is a program in its infancy (they’re still in need of some courts), he’ll have them winning in short time.
He tried to postpone his departure from GHS until the fall of 2014, but he’s needed in Marshall now. They have a professor from the kinesiology department coaching the team until he gets there.
“They can’t wait any longer. I’ve got to get on the recruiting trail,” said Bramlett.
And, of course that trail will lead him right back to Granbury.
“Sure, why not?” he said, flashing his patented impish smile.
“I’m going to need players, and they’re going to need a college.”
Bramlett, a man of faith, has often said he believes he was brought to Granbury for a reason. It’s that same faith that is guiding his departure to Marshall.
“I believe the Good Lord brought me here, and now he’s guiding me somewhere else,” said Bramlett. “But I will definitely miss it here.
“I feel like I kept my promise to Marsha.”
Here’s betting he does the same for the folks in Marshall.
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Category: Sports Archived