Matt Browne is taking care of business on the tennis court, deciding at the age of 14 that tennis is his ticket to college and maybe more.
In the last six months Browne has played in five USTA 16-and-under tourneys, winning four of them. In the other he made the finals, losing to a top-rated player from Barcelona, Spain.
A freshman at Lely High, Browne has decided not to not run cross country, or play basketball. A natural athlete, Browne really could play about any sport, but tennis gets the nod.
Excuse the early comparisons, but Browne seems to have the same drive and temperament of Marco’s Lauren Embree who is on the national and foreign tennis map big time. She already has won national titles and minor professional tourneys. And she is only 16, starring in USTA 18-and-under competition.
In the last two weeks Browne won the Halloween Spooktacular Local Junior Challenge in Naples and the Miami Crank Park USTA Fall Super Series.
In Miami, seeded seventh, Browne breezed through the early three rounds, giving up just five games.
In the finals he played sixth-seed Taylor Simkins who had knocked off the number one seed, Joseph Dorsey.
The first set was tight, with Browne breaking Simkins on the way to winning, 6-4. The second set was much easier, with Brown winning 6-2 for the title.
In the Spooktacular, Browne was the top seed, but faced a stiff challenge in Alejandro Perez of Naples in the very first round. Browne had never beaten Perez, although he had played him a number of times in the last three years.
Browne won the first set, 6-1 and the second in a close set, 6-4.
Third-seed Parker Cuevas-Woodall of Fort Myers went down to Browne, 6-1, 6-3.
In the finals, Browne faced second-seed Evan Stutchin of Cape Coral.
Stutchin jumped to an early lead, winning the first set, 6-4. But Browne rebounded, winning the second set, 6-2 and the tiebreaker to 10 points, 10-5.
“I’m learning how to handle people who hit harder and serve better,” Brown said of moving up the age ladder. “I’m improving my first serve, serving more aces, using a flat serve and a kick serve more effectively.”
Browne started playing tennis at age 2 and competitively by the time he was seven.
He is the son of Doug and Leslie, both tennis pros at Hideaway Beach. His dad is his coach.
“The people at Hideaway Beach have adopted Matt and been very supportive of his play,” Dad Doug said. “They come to watch him play. It’s almost like we want to say Matt Browne of Hideaway Beach as well as saying Marco Island.”
Matt said he will miss playing other sports at Lely, but looks forward to playing on the high school’s boys tennis team.
He also said that his tennis schedule and home work take up much of his time.
“My AP (Advanced Placement) class in environmental science gives me two hours of home work most nights,” he said.
That’s the only class in the first quarter at Lely that was a B, while the rest were As.
Colleges already on his list of possibles are Purdue, Vanderbilt, California at Berkeley, Stanford and Virginia.
“I know I will miss basketball, but tennis is my way to college,” he said.