Augusta Prep tennis coach Chris Dickson doesn’t need a 15-minute match to know Brooke Stevens is a special player.
But that small window might be the time she needs to win.
Stevens, who just completed her freshman year of high school, won the GISA Class AAA individual state title for the second year in a row as the Lady Cavaliers advanced to the state team finals. For her impressive season, Stevens is The Augusta Chronicle’s Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
“She plays the same. That’s what makes her good. She doesn’t drop down to her opponent's level, which a lot of high school players do,” Dickson said. “That’s fun to watch.”
Stevens, who won her first title as an eighth-grader, is ranked No. 13 in Georgia for Girls’ 16 Singles, a list dominated by Atlanta-area players. Stevens is also a top competitor in doubles with friend Kristen Jones.
“Singles is more of a
mental game; you have to concentrate the entire match. In doubles, your partner can snap you back into it. I’ll scream at her and she’ll scream at me, “OK, I got it,’ ” Stevens joked.
But when she plays for Augusta Prep, Stevens sometimes can experiment with different shots.
This year, she worked on her drop shot, which was one of her weaknesses. Now she can consider it a strength.
Craig Jones, who’s now the Director of Youth Play and Competition for the USTA, has worked with Stevens for almost six years. Jones helped Stevens develop her all-around game, with an emphasis on improvement instead of just wins and losses.
Jones admires Stevens’ skill and her mental game. Though he knows Stevens is her own worst critic, he is impressed with Stevens’ ability to see the big picture, to not freak out or stress about every mistake.
And if Stevens can remain healthy, Jones expects big things.
“She’s dangerous. It’s a term I use more and more,” Jones said. “She hits the ball hard, attacks the net, and
it’s hard to get the ball over her. Even when she was younger, she had a different personality than most. She was willing to take risks. She’s going to be really good one day.”