Player of the Year: 'Hounds in good hands behind sophomore star Brewer
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
May 26, 2011 12:00 AM | 1718 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hayes Brewer
Hayes Brewer
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Pope boys tennis coach Josh Smerker, whose coaching background actually comes in football, said his No. 1 singles player, Hayes Brewer, had a football player's mentality - his refusal to lose no matter how far he was behind.

The sophomore was down, but never out, against Johns Creek in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals and McIntosh in the finals. He lost the first sets of both matches, only to bounce back to win.

Brewer's match against McIntosh was arguably his biggest of the season. After getting pounced in the first set by Harry Heyburn, Brewer roared back to win 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, playing a key role in helping the Greyhounds come back from two points down to win their first championship.

"There's a certain mental toughness that you don't see in a lot of kids," Smerker said. "The bigger the match, they refuse to let circumstances get them down. He gathered his thoughts (against McIntosh) and came back and won. It's tough for any athlete to be mentally tough after being down, and he is tremendous at that."

Brewer, the 2011 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Tennis Player of the Year, started winning the aggressive points from the baseline after his first set against Heyburn and eventually wore down his opponent. Leading 3-2 in the third set and serving at 15-40, Brewer served his way out of trouble and went on to take control of the set.

"I had confidence the whole time that we were going to win," Brewer said. "Well, not at first, but I regained myself after the first-set loss. After we got down 2-0, I lost a little confidence, but both our doubles pulled through."

Brewer, who was 15-2 on the season, was in a similar situation against Johns Creek's Alkshay Verma in the quarterfinals, again overcoming a slow start. He ended up winning that one 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 before Kyle Hartfield won the clinching point at No. 3 singles.

In another come-from-behind match, Brewer split his first two sets with Alpharetta's Anish Sharma 6-3, 0-6 before winning 15-13 in a super-tiebreaker. After failing to win a game in the second set, Brewer trailed by four in the super-tiebreaker before scrapping his way back.

It was then that Pope knew it had a fierce competitor at No. 1 singles - one who still has another two years in high school.

Brewer works tirelessly on his conditioning and staying in shape, saying it's a combination of conditioning, mental toughness and competitive spirit that keeps him in most of his tough matches.

Other key wins for Brewer included a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Lassiter's Connor Sova and a 6-0, 6-3 win over North Cobb's Evan Stack. His only losses came against Etowah's Vincent Delise and Blessed Trinity's Cameron Fite.

Brewer started playing tennis at the age of 7 and works out at the Tennis Academy of Georgia.
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