Staff Photo: Ben Beitzel
The Brookwood boys tennis team celebrates its Class AAAAA championship win Saturday.
JONESBORO — Will George went six straight matches without winning or losing.
Starting in the Region 8-AAAAA tournament, the freshman singles player never finished a match in time to score a point for the Broncos, leaving the court mid-match round after round. But Saturday, the Broncos called up the freshman’s full efforts to reach the final round and to win Brookwood’s first boys tennis title since 2001.
Brookwood topped Westlake 3-1 in the final match to complete a season that saw the five teams drop just five matches.
“These guys just know how to win,” head coach Heath Hinton said.
George cruised in his No. 3 singles match against Benedictine as the Broncos easily reached the finals with a 3-0 win.
In the final match against an upstart group from Westlake, which needed a four-hour win at No. 1 singles against Northview to reach the finals, George again came up big.
The Broncos were given a point when Westlake’s Zackery Kennedy forfeited after two points at No. 1 singles to Randy Phillips. It was a match the senior Phillips would rather have won outright, but Kennedy was still cramping from his four-hour match. Kennedy won the match against Northview when the Titan’s No. 1 could no longer continue and left the tennis complex in an ambulance.
With No. 2 singles players Mark Guentert locked in a third set, the Broncos players all congregated around the freshman’s court in anticipation of a celebration. When George saw them, he knew the stakes.
“I looked around and that was the most nervous I’ve ever felt,” George said. “It’s so nerve-racking.”
George immediately double faulted to fall behind love-30, but came back to win the game and then, the match and the title. His teammates allowed him to shake hands before sprinting onto the court. By the time they headed over to Guentert’s court, he had already stopped his match.
“It was crazy,” George said.
And George wasn’t the only freshman to make an impact. The doubles pair of Brandon Mills and David Brown easily won both their matches Saturday pushing Brookwood to its title. They won their matches so quickly, they were left to watch much of the two matches.
“To represent the freshmen in something at this school was definitely big,” Mills said. “We showed them what we could do.”
They showed everyone. This is a Brookwood team that graduated six seniors after reaching the state quarterfinals a year ago. Even at the start of the year, Hinton didn’t understand the talent on his team.
“Even at tryouts I thought, ‘We are a lot better than I thought we’d be,’” he said. “They have gotten better and better.
“The way they know how to win really is amazing.”