Junior Spotlight — Constance Branstine
Constance Branstine and her family loves the sport of tennis, but there is another sport that comes a close second, and there’s a good reason for that.
Branstine, a USTA nationally ranked senior-to-be at Villa Park High School and a resident of Orange, is the cousin of Atlanta Braves All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman.
“We are a baseball family,” said Branstine, who had to delay this interview by a day because she was headed to the Angels game with friends. “We love baseball. It’s just something we all like; talking about it and going to the games.”
After attending a private school in Irvine her first two years of high school, Branstine transferred to Villa Park High for her junior year and played on the varsity tennis team for the first time, leading her squad to its first Crestview League title in more than a decade.
“It was a great experience and kind of nice being on a team and meeting new friends,” Branstine said “I’ve known my high school coach since I was five, and winning league for the first time in 10 years was great. I love high school tennis.”
The middle child of parents Bruce and Carol Branstine, Constance’s older sister Cassidy plays for UC Irvine, and younger sister Carson will be a freshman at Villa Park High, making the team even stronger if she chooses to play for the team.
Constance is currently ranked No. 6 in the SCTA Girls’ 18s. A nagging leg injury led to her third-round defeat in her final Junior Sectionals in June. “It wasn’t the greatest Sectionals to end with, but I’m still excited about the future,” she said.
It was important for her not to default, she said, as there were collegiate coaches on hand watching. Branstine is serious about her college prospects and has already visited campuses at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. She is also being recruited by Missouri, Texas Tech, Washington and UC Irvine.
“I’m really all over the place,” she laughed. “I really like the South, but then there are the West Coast schools to consider too.”
She is currently being coached by her mother and Sean Abdali of Grand Slam Tennis at the Tennis Club at Newport Beach.
Last summer Branstine had surgery on her right hand after Hardcourt Nationals, and said that it was the best decision she could have made. After 10 weeks away from the courts, she came back refreshed and rejuvenated, once she realized she could come back. “At first I thought, ‘Oh, no. I’m not going to be recruited and I was so stressed out,” she said. “After having that injury it kind of made me look at other things like spending time with my family and focusing on school.
“It helped playing high school tennis; getting back into it and it kind of got me back to reality. It made me really appreciate tennis. In the end I got through it and it made me stronger. It made me a better player on the court. You have to be strong out there. I got to a place where it’s tennis, tennis, tennis. All things tennis. Now I feel better than ever.”