Success on the tennis court hasn’t come by chance for Beau Millwood. The Flowery Branch standout’s relentless preparation and improved nutrition paved the way for a strong junior campaign in 2014.
Millwood compiled an 11-0 singles record to earn first-team All-Region 8-AAAAA honors while also leading the Falcons to their second straight region championship.
For his efforts, Millwood is The Times’ Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
During the school year, Millwood trains five hours per day — one before school and four in the afternoon at Dynamic Tennis Academy — Monday through Thursday.
This summer, he has been practicing from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, taking weekends off.
While the numerous hours of practice are a clear catalyst in his progression, Millwood also credits a more attentive eye toward his food choices. It’s an approach he picked up from DTA assistant coach Amyn Soldier.
“He kind of rubbed off on me and showed me that nutrition is the key,” Millwood said.
Millwood has cut out sugar, soda and sweets from his diet and tries to stay away from dairy. He usually gives himself one “cheat” day during a week. Millwood said giving up cheese might have been his biggest culinary sacrifice.
Flowery Branch head coach Todd Vokal, who has coached Millwood since eighth grade, said Millwood set the tone for the Falcons at No. 1 singles in 2014.
“This year he came in with more of a team-centered focus,” Vokal said. “He knew how he played, the rest of the team would play in that same manner.”
Millwood’s training is demanding, with him calling the days of workouts and school mixing “one of the most stressful times.” But there’s a simple thought he encourages himself with whenever the urge to relax might set in.
“If I do what I have to today, I’ll reach my goal one day faster,” Millwood said.
Another driving force for the rising senior at Flowery Branch has been the desire to play college tennis. He wants to study physical therapy and has already set up visits with the University of North Georgia, Kennesaw State and Georgia Southwestern for the end of the summer.
Millwood said his proudest moment of the 2014 season actually came in a loss to Cambridge in the second round of the AAAAA playoffs. He said the Falcons were “demolished” by Cambridge in the season opener but “played fantastic” in the playoff defeat.
“There wasn’t much more we could do,” Millwood said. “They just outplayed us.”
Interestingly, the season-opening loss was actually when Vokal realized just how much his junior leader had matured.
“I could tell that mentally he was in a different mindset than last year,” Vokal said. “Mentally, he could handle losing a point or making a bad shot better than he could in years past.
“He wouldn’t take himself out of a point.”
It’s an accomplishment Millwood values greatly, that ability to have a short memory when things go wrong on the tennis court.
“It’s necessary,” Millwood said. “You have to have it to be a good tennis player. It’s not something you learn in one day. It’s something you have to acquire over a long period of time. You have to grow. It’s a process.”
Another milestone that stood out for Millwood in 2014 was beating Hall County rival Gainesville in the Region 8-AAAAA finals to complete an unbeaten run in the region regular season and tournament.
“We all played out of our minds when we played Gainesville the second time,” Millwood said.
Millwood started playing tennis when he was 7 at the encouragement of his father, Eddie Millwood, who was looking for a sport his son could play for a lifetime. From there, the son embraced the competitive mindset fueled by the one-on-one nature of the sport.
The best part for Vokal is he’ll have that competitor on his side of the net for one more season.
“Every year he’s gotten better. Every year he’s gotten stronger,” Vokal said. “I can’t wait to see how he steps up and helps the team, how we can make the team better with him leading the way.”