Three years ago, the prospect of signing to play college tennis was probably the last thing Richard Brunsting thought would come his way. But sports dreams do come true, and Brunsting, who plays No. 2 singles for the Montgomery Bell Academy team, has seen his come to reality.
Brunsting, who is preparing to play his fourth and final Carter Memorial tournament this weekend at MBA, signed recently to play at Case Western Reserve, a small NCAA DIII school in Cleveland, Ohio.
“As a freshman, my goal was to play college tennis some day,’’ he said recently. “If I kept working hard, I though something might be possible. Their (Case Western’s) coach is a lot like my coach at MBA, Zac Hood. He’s pretty low key but very interested in the development of his players. And I really liked the players on the team.’’
Brunsting has added his name to the lore of standout MBA players, compiling a solid career and helping make the Big Red a threat to win their first Carter since ’01.
“I’ve become an almost a completely life changed person from when I started at MBA as a freshman,’’ he said. “I was shy, really introverted and now, as a senior, I’m so talkative, it’s hard to shut me up.’’
Asked why, he said, “a lot of that is due to the great teammates and the great coach I have whom I’ve adapted to over the years,’’ said the wiry Brunsting who has risen from playing No. 6 singles as a freshman, No. 5 as a sophomore, to move the ladder to No. 2 the past two seasons. He plays behind junior ace Naveen Chadalavada.
Freshman Palmer Campbell and sophomores Russ Anderson and David Thrailkill play 3-4-5 in the MBA singles lineup.
Ready for Carter
Asked how it would feel playing in his final Carter tournament, Brunsting said, “It’s something I’m really looking forward. We have a chance to win our tournament for the first time in a long time.
“McCallie is very good (MBA finished runnerup to McCallie in the A Division of the Rotary tournament in Chattanooga earlier this month), and MUS and St. Xavier (Ky.) are very good. I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’
Coach Hood has first-hand experience of the rush he’s felt, buoyed by fellow students during the Carter tournament in 2001.
“In my senior year, I had a tough match I won in the morning. In the afternoon, I was down a set and 4-1 in the second set to Brandon Allen, who went on to MTSU,’’ Hood said. “They let classes out early so they could go down and watch the tournament, and they really picked up on my match, cheering me on. It gave me a huge lift, and I wound up winning that match which, given how tired I was, I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.’’
Top teams competing include defending state champ McCallie, which didn’t lose a single match last year, singles or doubles, MUS, St. Xavier (Ky.), Dupont Manuel (Ky.), Paducah-Tilghman (Ky.) and University School of Jackson.
Play begins Friday morning at 8 a.m., with singles followed by second round singles and first-round doubles. Finals are 8 a.m. Saturday, followed by doubles semis and finals.
The A division is at MBA, the B division at Harpeth Hall. There are 10 teams in the A division, eight in B. MBA plays a tuneup match Thursday at 4 against Lone Oak, Ky.
Hall Track Relays
Boosted by team titles in the 23rd annual Doug Hall Relays last Saturday at MBA, the Brentwood Academy girls and MBA boys take aim on capturing state titles next month.
“Everyone on our team did so well,’’ said BA junior Macy Conger, who was named female Most Outstanding Athlete. “If we keep competing the way we have up to this point, I think we have a great chance when we get to state.’’
For the third straight year, the boys title went down to the final event, before MBA edged BA behind Steven Gaittens. Among other top performances were by Ensworth’s Garrett Carmichael and MLK junior Kirsten Jones, who was part of three winning relays.
Some of the meet’s great performers will be honored during the 50th anniversary of the annual City Track and Field meet Friday at 6 at Harpeth Hall.
The Great Eight Meet will be held at MBA next Wednesday, beginning at 3 p.m., bringing together area participants with the eight bests times and distances so far this spring. The DII Regional will again be at MBA May 12, 13 and 15 and the A/AA Sectionals are again at Lipscomb May 11, 12 and 14.
Ryan visits big rival MBA Friday at 7 in a battle for first place in the DII Middle Region soccer race. A top sidelight sends two of the area’s top players, Jonah Powers-Myszka (Ryan) and Houston Oldham (MBA) against each other. Both are seniors, all-state, and were teammates on their club team.
Gioia wins ACC heptathlon
Former Harpeth Hall standout Gabby Gioia, competing for North Carolina, won the women’s heptathlon championship in the Atlantic Coast Conference track meet in Miami last weekend.
Freudenthal’s friendly foe
When Ezell-Harding met CPA in softball last week, it marked a matchup between CPA coach Jennifer Wright Martin and her former coach at Ezell, Don Freudenthal. “It’s the first time I’ve ever met a former player who was a head coach,’’ he said after Ezell’s win. She was a five-time all-state pitcher and was on Ezell’s 12th and last state title team.
Waggoner bows out
Nick Waggoner, one of the true giants of Nashville area baseball coaches, ended his career at Brentwood High last week. Waggoner, who was apparently forced out, compiled a 24-year record at 430-283 with BHS, with nine district and five region titles and a ’98 state tourney appearance. The baseball facility is named after him, “Nick Waggoner Field.’’ Assistant Lee Vaughn took his place.
Barkley’s booming bat
David Lipscomb junior Barkley Logan hit three more home runs, two in one game, last week in the Cookeville DUFF softball tournament, giving her a total of 10 homers, believed to be a Nashville best. The Mustangs finished in the tourney’s final four.
Marc Taylor, who guided FRA to the ’05 dual state championship, has returned as varsity wrestling coach with the Panthers after serving at Trevecca.
Also, the TSSAA awarded the 2010 dual and individual state wrestling championships to the Williamson County Exposition Park in Franklin after a lengthy stay in Chattanooga.
Three players off Hillsboro’s girls state championship basketball team signed college scholarships last week – Jessica Pace, who hit the last-second, winning basket in the Burros’ victory in the state AAA final (UT-Martin), Vacie Perry (Alabama-Huntsville) and point guard Monique Shelton (Spelman, Ga.).
If leading scorer LaKeisha Crouch (junior) and post Isabelle Harrison (sophomore) had been seniors, the Burros likely would have had all five starters to sign.
“I’m proud of all three of them,’’ Crouch said. “I kind of wish I was signing with them — but we have a state championship to defend next season.’’
Music City Tennis
The 36th annual Music City Tennis Invitational will be held Saturday and Sunday on the Vanderbilt Currey Center courts. The doubles tourney benefits child development at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Go to www.musiccitytennis.com for more information or how to give.