2001-03-10 / Sports

Athlete Of The Week

By Emanuel Jalonschi

Tennis is not a sport for the impatient of spirit. The very dynamics of the game require a careful balance between brute force and meticulous shot planning. That’s why it’s extremely hard to find young athletes who truly possess both the natural skill and the veteran maturity that is needed to succeed in tennis.

That’s the first thing to hit you when you’re talking to the young Brian Dushock: his maturity. He’s not even in high school yet, but his calm demeanor bespeaks more years of experience than an athlete his age can usually possess.

When he talks about his game, he is very honest and very thorough. Out of all the professional players out on the circuit right now, he compares his game to Andre Agassi’s. "My service is pretty much a carbon copy of his. Also I think I have a similar work ethic." Those are extraordinary phrases to hear from a kid still in junior high school.

On the tennis court itself, he admits to feeling the advantage of a tremendous amount of experience. "I think I {have an experience advantage]. I’m getting a lot smarter on the court. When I started playing I was not that much for the mental part. Now it’s like ninety-five percent mental."

Strange to hear, but he’s actually been playing for ten years already. He got started by going to his dad’s tournaments when he was barely over being a tottler. After his dad, Mike Dushock, finished his games, Brian would want to play. "After a two or three hour match, Brian would come up dragging his racket behind him and say ‘daddy, hit me some balls?’ He had the interest. He immediately had an incredible interest in the game." His dad is a major role model in Brian’s life.

His dad has been coaching for twenty-three years and is now coaching Brian as well. You can see the calming and maturing effect that the father has had on his son. As an experienced coach and former player himself, Mike has been able to pass down a lot of lessons that he has learned through the years. Brian has learned those lessons well.

Mike, a former tennis star at Albuquerque, will be the first one to speak of his son’s abilities. He has had the opportunity to see his son take it to the next level. "He has great hands and he has that natural flair for the game. It made my job a whole lot easier."

Brian may be very coachable but that can only come through hard work and sacrifice.

Those two words are the quintessential definition of Brian Dushock. After school he’ll practice two to three hours, then he’ll go home to finish his school work and then whatever free time he has left time he has to split between a burgeoning teenage social life and sleep. "Yeah, I give up a lot. Most of my friends don’t really understand what I’m doing and why."

Brian understands why and the results speak for themselves.

Brian Dushock is ranked in the top 50 in the sectional rankings. In the metro area he is ranked number four.

His tournament conquests include: winning the Boys 12 Metropolitan Championship (1999), winning the Boys 12 "McEnroe Cup" doubles championship (2000), going to the finals in the Boys 14 Metro Regional Championship (2000), winning the Boys 14 Metro Regional Championship for Oceanview (2000), a trip to the finals of the Roosevelt Island Metro Regional Championship (2000), and getting to the finals in the Boys 14 Summer Classic (2000).

He has no intention of stopping and has been on a tear already this year. In the highly competitive Port Washington Winter Classic, he made it to the final draw and got as far as the quarter finals. Then, just recently, he won the Regional "Alley Pond Park Tennis Center" Championship.

Next, he plans on taking on the Sectional Closed Championship. It’s a very large and competitive tournament and Brian just made the main draw.

That’s the short-term look of things for Brian right now, but what does he hope to do later on? Does he want to continue pursuing tennis? Will he spend more time with his second love, baseball?

"Well, right now, I’m trying to keep my goals short-term. My goal for this year is to get a top ten ranking in the East," says the soft-spoken Brian.

So what is it that keeps him going? What is at the heart of Brian Dushock’s self-sacrifice and dedication?

"I love it. I love the challenge. I love how hard you have to work. Honestly, I would do anything I have to do to be successful."

With his work ethic, his natural talent and his maturity, Brian Dushock is a name the tennis world needs to get used to. They’ll be hearing it often in the future.

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