Just three matches in the win column and a single team victory might not sound motivational, but it was just that for Northridge junior Josh Brown.
“Honestly, it was a horrible season, but I fell in love with the sport,” the 17-year-old said.
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Not long after the 2017 season ended, Brown started taking private tennis lessons.
“He played doubles on a team that was not good at all and the kid decided ‘I want to be good at tennis,’” Northridge tennis coach Shane Allison said. “The level of commitment Josh has is just awesome.”
What a difference a year makes. Brown went from barely mustering three wins at first doubles last season to tallying a 12-8 record at first singles and earning a coveted district berth. He will face top-seeded Andrew Pregel, of Indian Hill, in the first round of Division II district play at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason on Thursday.
The last time a Polar Bears tennis player qualified to the district tournament, Brown wasn’t even born – it was 2000 when French foreign exchange student Bertrand Liger advanced. The last time a Northridge player qualified to state was 1950, but Brown isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“My goal was to finish in the top four at sectionals and I did,” he said. “I feel like I surprised a lot of people just getting here and I know it’s going to be a lot tougher at districts.”
One person who wasn’t surprised by Brown’s success was his coach.
“I thought he had a really good chance of qualifying,” Allison said. “He put in the time and worked hard in the off-season and it really paid off.”
Allison thinks that Brown’s turnaround season is about more than individual success.
“This could definitely be the catalyst for positive momentum for the program,” he said. “We used to be the team that was an easy win for everyone else – frequently losing 0-6 – but we were very competitive this year.”
The Polar Bears also fielded a reserve team for the first time in several years.
“I’m super excited about where we’re at and where we can go from here,” Allison said.
Now or never
It’s the last chance for a state trip for local seniors including a few frequent district qualifiers. In D-I singles play, Centerville’s Josh Giambattista and Troy’s Elijah Sadler both head into the tournament as No. 2 seeds. Top-seeded Colton Morehart, Miami Valley School, will look to close out his high school tennis career with a D-II state singles berth as will Fenwick senior Dylan Sagan, the top seed from the Mason sectional.
Boys District Tennis Tournament
When: Thursday (first round and quarterfinals), Saturday (semifinals and finals); play begins at 9 a.m.
Where: Lindner Family Tennis Center, Mason
State qualifiers: Top four singles players and doubles teams advance to the state tournament
Admission: $6 per day