Brookstone 'confident' heading into state finals

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comMay 9, 2014 

It's been nearly a decade since the Brookstone boys tennis team hoisted the trophy at the end of the season, winning their second Class A state title in 2005.

Now, the Cougars have a chance to make it three when they face Savannah Country Day in the finals on Saturday in Jonesboro.

"We're excited," coach Jim East said. "We're confident, but we're confident with a respect for our opponent."

They know just what they are facing, having already played SCD in a match earlier this year. Brookstone came out on top in the Area 1-A tournament finals by a 4-1 score, though East admitted that things weren't nearly as easy as the score might indicate.

"They were tightly contested matches," he said.

Indeed, No. 1 singles Kazuki Onoe had to battle to hand Grayson Lowenthal his only individual loss of the season. He swept the opening set when they met earlier this year, but had to cling to a 7-5 advantage in the second.

The two met in a match last year, as well, with Lowenthal coming away the victor.

"They've split, so it'll be interesting to see their match this time," East said.

No. 2 singles was even closer this year, with Baran Baris of Brookstone topping Greyson Finlay 7-5, 6-3.

As a team, the Hornets have lost just two other times besides Brookstone.

"Our goal is just to find three points where we can get them," East said. "I may need my doubles in this one. You never know. Doubles carried us through Pace Academy (in the semifinals).

"You don't win state without a doubles team. Very rarely do you go 1-2-3, and I think our doubles teams have emerged at the right time."

In No. 1 doubles, he has Trey Thorne and Hudson

Terrell, and in No. 2 doubles Sahil Arora and Hayden Spicer.

East credited Thorne as the emotional leader in practice, showing his enthusiasm by shouting encouragement at players across the court.

Jonathan Dreelin will compete at No. 3 singles for Brookstone.

East said that his team is focused. There wasn't much celebration after a victory in the state semifinals. Instead, they could finally look ahead to the task in front of them.

"Everyone knows they're responsible for their job," he said.

"There was no high fiving at the end of the match. We had a moment, and then when we were eating dinner, everything was pretty serious. Nobody is assuming anything.

"I have a group of smart guys. They know how big this is."

Brookstone won its state titles in 1987 and 2005.

The Class A private-school finale will begin at 8:45 a.m. at the Clayton County Tennis Center in Jonesboro.

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