Deerfield’s Brown finishes third at State
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
TENNIS — It was a simple plan.
But a hard one to execute.
Deerfield High School junior Jason Brown hatched it on Saturday afternoon, while bouncing a ball before a first serve in the state meet at Hersey.
Stagg senior Tim Kopinski, last year’s state runner-up in singles, crouched and waited near the baseline on the other side of the net.
It was late, in the third set.
Third place was at stake.
Both had yanked each other all over the court, mostly via pounding groundstrokes.
“I’m thinking, ‘I need to win a short point,’ ” Brown would recall later.
He got what he needed: the shortest point possible.
Brown had gained, swiftly and emphatically, match point.
On match point, Kopinski’s inside-out forehand went wide, capping Brown’s 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.
“You have to attack, go for points, against a player like Kopinski,” said Brown, third at State last spring. “His forehand — it’s good, so good. I wish I had his forehand.”
But Brown, a 3-4 seed like Kopinski, had used plenty of his own weapons to become the first Warrior to earn back-to-back, top-three singles finishes at State since Mike Morrison captured his fourth singles championship in 1986.
Brown’s top go-to asset at State: fitness.
“Fitness played a part, a big part,” Brown said after his 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 win over Hinsdale Central’s Sam Bloom in a quarterfinal on Friday. “I kept fighting, kept my focus. What helped me stay focused was my fitness. I’ve worked hard on that part of my game.”
Brown squandered a pair of match points in the second set against Bloom.
“It would have been really easy for Jason to think about those, to get upset about those, during the third set,” said Deerfield assistant Ryan Johnstone. “But he didn’t; Jason started fresh, never got negative. He built himself a nice lead (5-0) in the third set. That was important. That’s what he needed to do.”
Brown had to find resolve, again, in the third set against Kopinski.
Deerfield’s ace had a 5-2, 40-15 lead on the hard-hitting Charger.
Kopinski fought back, breaking Brown and holding serve to trail 5-4.
“Jason’s ace (in the 10th game, at deuce) was big,” Johnstone said. “But just as important was the point he won before that. It was a taxing point; he had to hit a squash shot (a running, desperate hack) to stay in it.”
Quash New Trier.
That was the quest for teams at State this year.
None came close. NT senior and reigning singles champ Robert Stineman beat junior teammate Jared Hiltzik 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Brown lost 6-3, 6-3 to Hiltzik in a semifinal Saturday morning.
Trevians Drew Campbell and Thomas Fawcett finished second in doubles.
NT amassed 55 points.
There was some drama on Saturday — the battle for runner-up honors.
Deerfield and Oak Park-River Forest waged it.
Deerfield won it, 36-35.
“Every point counts, and it’s tough to get State points on Saturday,” said Warriors coach Josh Leighton. “But we got them, got enough of them on Saturday. Proud — I’m proud of what the guys did, all of them. The hope, every year, is to peak at the end of the season. We did that.”
Deerfield’s doubles teams won a combined 11 matches at State. Seniors Ben Shklyar/Alec Siegel, seeded 5-8, finished 7th-8th by reaching the consolation semifinals.
They also emerged as three-set specialists.
Five of their eight matches went three sets.
Shklyar/Siegel won three of the extended tests. The most significant was a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Hinsdale Central’s Peter Heneghen/Alex Hagermoser in a consolation quarterfinal.
“Hinsdale Central was battling for a state (team) trophy at the time,” Leighton said. “That was such a big win, for a couple of reasons. Ben and Alec responded well (after a three-set loss to an OPRF duo in the fourth round), and I liked the way they came out firing in their third sets, against Barrington and that Hinsdale team.”
Deerfield’s other State duo, junior Jeremy Jacobson and sophomore Jack Kasbeer, also eliminated a Hinsdale Central tandem (Griffin Johns/Brian Johnson) in the back draw.
Jacobson/Kasbeer netted five wins in seven State matches, reaching the sixth round of the back draw.
They were unseeded.
Their State finish: 17-24.
“Unbelievable — an unbelievable weekend for those guys,” Leighton said. “They played some great tennis. They were right there, on the border, of receiving a 17-32 seed. And then to do what they did, when we needed points — they certainly came through for us.”
Deerfield sophomore Toby Ma, seeded 9-16, went 5-2 and earned eight team points at State. He lost to Kopinski 6-3, 6-1 in a fourth-round match on Friday, before winning two of three matches in the back draw.
Ma found himself down 6-4 to Glenbrook South’s Sam Hoogland in the match after his loss to Kopinski.
Ma’s convincing response: a 6-0, 6-0 win. He then beat Downers Grove South’s Joey Leto 6-3, 6-1 to clinch a top 9-12 finish.
Latin’s Ben Quazzo ended Ma’s run with a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 decision in a back-draw quarterfinal.
Dinks: Deerfield’s runner-up effort was the Warriors’ best State finish since Leighton’s second DHS squad took third in 2007; his ’06 team also placed third at State.
Former Warriors assistant coach Jeff Daube served as an assistant at State. His primary duty: help Ma.
“Toby took care of business in his first two matches,” Daube said at Rolling Meadows on May 26. “He’s playing very well.”
Kasbeer, during a second-round doubles match at State on May 26, must have felt like an apple that showed up at an orange convention. He and his partner, Jeremy Jacobson, faced New Trier’s Nate Jacobson and Rob Jacobson.