Charlie Broom '20 hopes to improve on strong first season

by Justin Kramer | 10/23/17 2:20am

Having grown up with tennis courts practically in his backyard in Hertfordshire, England, Charlie Broom ’20 was put on the fast track to tennis prominence at a young age. With two college athletes for parents — his father played squash and his mother played field hockey — Broom became involved in tennis very early on. 

“I started playing pretty much since I can remember,” Broom said. “I used to go with my mom and dad and play against a wall. I played all the way from one or two years old when I picked up a racket all through the juniors and now I’m here.”

Broom finished the past season playing number one singles for Dartmouth, winning the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Rookie of the Year and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. He entered this season ranked No. 100 by the ITA in men’s singles, but Broom has had a long road to get there.

Broom began playing tournaments at age 14. Beginning at 16, Broom made the rounds of the International Tennis Federation Junior Circuit, earning enough points to qualify for what he calls his greatest youth achievement, Junior Wimbledon at age 17. 

“It was an amazing experience, surreal to play at my home grand slam,” Broom said. “You get the honor to play at Wimbledon and then to experience seeing the pros playing and practicing — I had never really been that close to anything like that.”

Broom scraped his way into the tournament with a wildcard entry into the qualifying round, where he convincingly knocked off players hailing from Taiwan and Denmark. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of Wimbledon by a talented American. Though his Wimbledon hopes were dashed, NCAA tennis beckoned.

Broom cited head coach Chris Drake and assistant coach Tom Boysen as primary reasons for his decision to come overseas to Dartmouth. 

“I got along with them really well,” Broom said. “They’re just really good people and they’ve helped my game so much over the last year.”

Drake was thrilled to have Broom come on board as well.

“He already is a leader by example — he’s very organized with his time, he’s a good student,” Drake said. “The academic workload is a real challenge, but he handles it really well. He stays on top of his schoolwork, he’s focused for his practices, he’s always looking to improve.”

Broom explained how he manages to stay focused academically amid a busy training schedule. The transition to Dartmouth has been a hard-earned success for Broom both on and off the court.

“It was strange,” he said. “I came here for [First-Year] Trips and I think that was a really good thing to get me settled into Dartmouth’s life, meeting new people and getting used to the surrounding environment. I think just trying to get into a daily rhythm of going to class and practice was very different to how I had experienced things before.”

On the court, Broom has found his groove after a challenging start. 

“The volume of tennis was a bit of a shock at the start,” he said. “We play and train for about 20 hours a week, [but] coming in I had only played eight to 10 at most. Mentally, I was pretty tired, and the work was tough, so I was being hit from a lot of different angles, but I felt like I dealt with them fairly well. Coming back now this year and being a sophomore, it felt like I hadn’t really left, and I just got back into the routine of what I was doing last year.”

Last year, Broom started in the fourth singles position but clawed his way up to the top.

“He was winning at the spots he was playing,” Drake said. “He played the last four matches at one and did well there — finished the year playing competitively at that spot as well.”

Along the way, Broom had some impressive matches, taking down fellow Englishman Tom Colautti of Princeton University and Kyle Mautner, the University of Pennsylvania’s No. 1, both in three sets. His most impressive match, however, was against senior Colin Sinclair of Cornell University, according to Drake and Max Fliegner ’18, Broom’s doubles partner.

In what finished as a 4-2 loss to the No. 25 Big Red, Broom downed Sinclair 6-3, 6-4.

“I just played a really good quality match and ended up coming through that one in two tight sets,” Broom said. “While we didn’t necessarily win the match, I gave them a good chance and belief.”

Broom shined with Fliegner on the doubles court as well in the fall and spring. The combo beat Columbia University’s sibling duo of Richard Pham and Victor Pham, then ranked No. 36 in the country, in No. 2 doubles by a score of 6-1.

“That was probably the best match that we’ve played collectively,” Fliegner said. “[Spring was] when our team chemistry clicked.” 

According to Drake, Broom’s combination of technical ability and mental tenacity makes him a unique player.

“He’s very solid, he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses,” Drake said. “He’s technically pretty good with all of his shots: his serves, groundstrokes and net play. He’s tough mentally, he’s a good fighter, he’s confident.”

Drake also praised Broom for his drive even on breaks. The coaching staff expects players to improve their tennis skills during breaks from school.

Broom spent the summer training in his hometown and playing in professional International Tennis Federation Futures Tour tournaments in New York, Belgium and Austria before a hamstring injury cut his break short.

In the coming NCAA season, Broom has his goals set high. 

  “I just want to try improve from where I was at last year, and try to get my level up to the top 30, top 40 guys in the NCAA,” he said. “That would be a really amazing achievement if I could get to that at that point, but I’m not too worried about where my ranking ends up.”

With a strong understanding of the steps he needs to take to reach that level, Broom could be headed for a breakout season. 

“Often in college tennis, the better player doesn’t always win ­— it’s the one who competes the hardest and is the toughest,” Broom said. “It’s about being mentally prepared for a battle every time you go out on the court.”