A laser like focus on championship tennis was the breezed to the state title Saturday with a pair of straight set victories in Arlington Heights.
Though the scores indicate Brown had an easy time winning the title match and the semifinal contest 90 minutes before, he increased his concentration at critical points throughout the day to puncture his opponents’ confidence.
“He executed both game plans perfectly,” Assistant Coach Ryan Johnstone said of the Yale University bound Brown. Johnstone was at courtside for both matches. “He is very good at strokes but the best thing about his game is his ability to be mentally tough.”
In the finals, Brown topped Julian Childers of Marion Catholic, 6-1, 6-2, after defeating Hinsdale Central’s Martin Joyce, 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals 90 minutes before the championship match began. Brown won seven matches in three days.
Deerfield finished fifth as a team with 25 points on the strength of Brown’s seven victories , who finished tied for seventh. They were the only Warriors in the state Meet.
With the second set of the championship contest tied, 2-2, Brown combined power and finesse to overcome a 15-30 deficit to win four of the next five points and the following four games to lock his grip on the trophy.
Down 15-30, Brown charged the net to get a drop shot off the racket of Childers and lightly touched the ball to hit it across the court out of his opponent’s reach. If was the fifth time that day Brown had a game at deuce. Each time he won the next two points and the game.
“I stayed with it each time,” Brown said of the five games knotted at 40. “This is really a high. The games could have gone the other way.”
Johnstone sees Brown’s ability to end a game that gets to deuce with the next two points as part of the mental toughness that makes him a champion.
“Jason doesn’t lose too many points in a row,” Johnstone said. “He has an unbelievable ability to focus. He hit the ball with less pace to keep him (Childers) off balance. He really stepped up his game. He didn’t give him too many angles.”
Head Coach Josh Leighton echoed Johnstone’s praise. “He (Brown) always finds a way to be competitive when he has to,” Leighton said. “He makes the right choice. He finds the right shot.”
The same scenario occurred during the second set of Brown’s semifinal match with Brown leading, 4-3 and Joyce on the verge of taking Brown’s serve with three break points. Brown won the next five tallies to take a 5-3 lead and command of the match.
“I just told myself to go for it,” Brown said. “When you’re down love 40 I figured if I was going to lose I would give it all I had. It could have gone the other way.”
When it was over, Brown exploded with a “yes” which could be heard all over the stadium and left the court to handshakes and hugs from teammates, classmates, family and friends. “It feels really, really good,” he said. “It’s great to be a rock star for a day.”