It’s all a matter of confidence for Andrew Whitehouse of Westlake Village. The 17-year-old recently concluded a successful summer by taking part in one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation – the USTA Hardcourt 18s Nationals at Kalamazoo, Mich.
Just a few weeks earlier at the USTA National Clay Courts, the Westlake High senior unseeded Whitehouse was given the Boys’ 18s “Player of the Day” Award after a three-hour marathon comeback win.
After dropping the first set against No. 17-seeded Bennett Crane, Whitehouse took the second in a tiebreaker, 11-9, and the third set, 6-4, to advance to the next round.
“It was the last match of the day and there were some college coaches watching,” Whitehouse said. “I was able to save five or six match points, so it was a pretty exciting match. I think that’s why they gave me the Player of the Day Award and it was nice to be recognized with that.”
For Whitehouse, Kalamazoo represented a return to the surface he’s most familiar with in hardcourts. Whitehouse spent some time in Virginia warming up on clay before the Nationals, and said he played 14 matches on the dirt back east.
The extra time spent on clay gave him the confidence he needed heading into Nationals. “The confidence is there now and I really feel like I belong with the top players,” Whitehouse said. “At some of the other tournaments I look at some of the others top seeds, and I think I’m not going to win. But at Clay Courts I really started to get that confidence that all the top players have.
“I really feel like I can play with anyone out there.”
Along with Westlake High teammates Brandon Lam and Cody Lin, Whitehouse is on one of the state’s top high school teams.
“It’s tough balancing school and tennis,” he said. “But I’m pretty good at balancing both and being able to go to public school.”
Whitehouse said he let his best friend Lin take the lone singles spot in last April’s Ojai CIF event, and he elected to play Men’s Open qualifying, losing in the final round.
Whitehouse said his successful summer playing top national junior events has led to several colleges taking a closer look at him. He’s checking out the schools and programs at Cal Poly-SLO, UC Santa Barbara, and Virginia Tech and has visited each of the campuses on unofficial visits.
“They’re recruiting me pretty hard,” he said, adding he wouldn’t mind attending college back east, as his mother the former Lorene Burkhart played at Marshall University in West Virginia.
Lorene was one of Andrew’s first tennis coaches and she is a teaching pro at the Westlake Athletic Club. She earned her Master’s of Psychology in both School Counseling and Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., following her playing days.
Whitehouse said earning his college degree is important, but he wants to spend equal times on the courts compared to the classroom. “Ever since I stepped on the court at the age of 7 my goal was to play Division I college tennis,” he said.
Whitehouse reflected back on his positive summer. “Kalamazoo was pretty cool,” he said. “And the biggest thing for me was that I wasn’t fearing any player. I was thinking, ‘why can’t I beat these players?’ ”