WESTFIELD TWP. — There were friendly pickup matches with his brother Ethan, but Jacob Dunbar never got a chance to play high school tennis with his older sibling.
With a four-year difference between the Cloverleaf junior and Ethan, a redshirt sophomore at the University of Richmond, the two never got to team up at doubles or fill the first and second singles spots in the Colts lineup.
Dunbar will get that chance soon at the next level after announcing Friday that he will be graduating early from Cloverleaf and join his brother on the Spiders in the fall.
“It was definitely a difficult decision,” the two-time Gazette MVP said of leaving school a year early. “But academically I’m ready and practicing in this area is a struggle at times with the weather and having playing partners.”
The nationally-ranked player, who has made two-straight trips to the state tournament and already holds a host of county and school records, will graduate in June after reaching the required number of credits needed to graduate from Cloverleaf and meeting all the other guidelines issued by the NCAA Clearing House.
The news caught Colts coach Mike McGee a bit off-guard.
“It was kind of surprising, because we thought he would be here all four years,” McGee said. “When you think about it though, he’s been wanting to go to Richmond and be with his brother. It’s a good opportunity. He likes the school, likes the coach and knows the guys on the team.
“We’re very pleased for him. He’s a great student-athlete and I know how hard he works.”
Richmond was the only school on Dunbar’s radar after the 17-year-old watched Ethan — a multiple-time Gazette MVP — earn All-Atlantic 10 accolades this past season.
“It means a lot,” Jacob said of joining his brother. “I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at schools. It was an easy decision, because Richmond is a great school.
“Having my brother there was a huge reason. He’s my best friend. He comes home from school and tells me about (Richmond) all the time, so it was good advertisement.”
The 6-foot, 160-pound Dunbar is coming off a 32-2 season — a mark that included a 31-match win streak — a record that is second to his brother’s all-time county mark of 35-2 set in 2010. In his first two prep seasons, he surpassed Ethan’s combined victory total of 61 for a freshman and sophomore year. The run includes two Suburban League titles, a pair of sectional championships and three singles wins at state, which matches the all-time county mark.
Dunbar also was the first local singles player to advance to state as a freshman and sophomore and was a recipient of the John Harlow Sportsmanship Award.
“It would be nice to have him for one more year,” McGee said. “We’ll just have to make the most of this year.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.