All seemed well for Brandon Park throughout most of his freshman campaign at Gonzaga.
The Stockdale grad and former BVarsity Boys Tennis Player of the Year looked to be right at home in his first season on the courts of Spokane, Wash. After going 7-3 in singles and 5-2 in doubles in his first fall of collegiate play, he started 2-1 at the No. 6 singles spot for the Zags while also winning his lone match at No. 2 doubles in the spring.
Park even acknowledged that he was pleased with his performance, expressing excitement over the growth he had made in a short period of time.
“I had a fantastic season really," he said. "I was playing some of the best tennis of my life and I was getting top-quality training. It was overall a great experience.”
But as an unprecedented health crisis broke out in the spring, Park began feeling uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. Despite enjoying his first year at Gonzaga, he says it became a struggle to be so far from home during the COVID-19 outbreak that forced the early cancelation of his season.
"It gave me a lot of time to think about what I wanted," Park said. "There was so much unknown. It makes you reflect and go 'What if I'm stuck here? What if they close off borders? That was a big worry.
"I realized I wanted to stay on the west coast in California with a similar training and fitness schedule that I was getting at Gonzaga. I think being in California was the best thing for me."
So after returning to Bakersfield in March, Park put his name in the transfer portal and quickly found an ideal landing spot with one of his old team's conference foes.
Though he gave consideration to a few schools, Park says the University of the Pacific in Stockton checked nearly every box on his list. He officially committed to the Tigers in May.
"U of P really stuck out to me," he said. "Their tennis facility is one of the best in California and (they have) fantastic academics."
Now just three-and-a-half hours from home, Park will have more opportunities to play in front of family members, provided world events allow them to travel.
"My family is super happy," he said. "They get to come up every single weekend when I play. Well, hopefully they will."
Sadly, trips to Stockton remain on indefinite hold. On Thursday, the West Coast Conference became the latest league to axe its fall sports schedule, meaning Park won't suit up for his new team until at least January.
He also has no immediate plans to step on campus, electing to take classes online and continue training at home for the time being.
Knowing he'll once again need to get acclimated to a new environment, Park is itching to begin his second season of collegiate play as soon as possible.
"It is sad because I wanted to start and get to know the team a little earlier," he said. "It's one of the best feelings ever representing your school. You have so much to fight for and you have a team to back you up. I just hope I can play soon."