Cumiskey, Lewis, Arora, East win major tennis honors
By DAVID MITCHELL
No school in the area does it quite like Brookstone when it comes to tennis.
The boys team has three state championships on its resume, winning in 1987, 2005 and 2014. The girls have 10, including six between 2002-09.
Few teams in the state can match the tradition across both genders like the Cougars can. And even though neither came away with the top prize this year, that tradition continued.
Both the boys and girls finished as state runners-up in Class A-private. The boys fell to Stratford Academy in the final, the girls to Athens Academy. Because of the teams' success, it was a clean sweep for the Cougars in top awards for the All-Bi-City tennis team.
Coaches Jim East and Mary Lynn Cumiskey were named coaches of the year for the boys and girls team, respectively, and Sahil Arora and Jessica Lewis named boys and girls players of the year.
Arora was a part of a dangerous doubles tandem along with Hudson Terrell. He led the way to a 12-4 record, going over 50 career wins at Brookstone and being named the team's most valuable player.
He said his own success and, more specifically, that of his team was impressive considering four starters had
graduated off last year's state championship team.
"We still made it to the finals playing some of the best matches of our lives, like the semifinals match where we won 3-2 and two of those matches went to a third set," Arora said.
He was referring to a hard-fought win against Athens Academy. Athens Academy's girls team won it all over Brookstone, but that did little to dampen Lewis' spirit looking back on the season.
"It was definitely disappointing getting second, but it was really satisfying because it was the farthest we've made it since 2010," she said. "It was a great experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
The run to the finals was a little sweeter for Cumiskey, who said the best win of the season was in the semifinal round against Walker School, which knocked out Brookstone in 2013 en route to a state championship of its own.
"We were just really pumped up for it," Cumiskey said of the match.
"We knew what we were up against, but our team came through, persevered and played really good tennis that day."
She attributed her success as coach to the team's chemistry and leadership, including Lewis and fellow senior Emmie Patton.
Arora said one of the biggest reasons for the boys team's success was East, who focused on improvement despite the odds against making it back to the finals.
"(Getting back to the final) says a lot about the people on our team, but it also says a lot about our coach," he said. "Even though he knew the odds were stacked against us, he was really focused on the new players and helping bring them up to the same level as the older guys."
He was successful, and the rest, as they say, was history.
David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports