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LATA's Junior Team Tennis State Championships

August 4, 2006 03:41 PM

Brannon Dessyn Toughs it Out at the Junior Team Tournament

Tennis may not have the bone crushing tackles of football or the savage hits of hockey, but tennis players are some of the toughest athletes in sports.  No other sport necessitates the stamina and constant mental focus, not to mention the finesse, that tennis requires.  What other exercise requires you to be on your feet running back and forth for hours at a time while placing an object the size of a fist with exquisite precision?  Tennis is tough enough on the best of days, as any player can attest, but imagine playing in a tournament without full use of your racquet hand. 

Brannon Desseyn recently played in the 2006 South Carolina Junior Team Tennis Tournament in just such a situation.  While visiting France through a cultural exchange program he tragically tumbled off a second-story balcony, shattering his wrist upon impact with the ground, 15 feet (5 meters) below.  Fortunately, other than the damage to his wrist Brannon was ok.  Unfortunately, Brannon was slated to play in the Junior Team Tennis Tournament less than a month later. 

Art helps ease the pain

Art helps ease the pain

Brannon returned to the US where he underwent surgery on his wrist and had two pins inserted.  Amazingly Brannon made the decision to play in the tournament after his surgery.  His arm was put into a cast on a Friday and by Monday Brannon was on the court playing.  He quickly adapted his playing style to use a two handed forehand in addition to his two handed backhand.  The adjustment is even more impressive considering Brannon does not come from a tennis family and has only been playing for two years. 

However, once Brannon stepped onto the court with Taylor Matthews, whom he had never played doubles with before, “things just clicked”.  Brannon says they had a great time together and played well.  In an interview after the match, Brannon said that he had an excellent time playing throughout the season and tournament.  In fact, the only complaint Brannon voiced was frustration that he could not do more for the team. 

Brannon’s team spirit isn’t limited to toughing out his own injuries.  By all accounts he made a great effort off the court, helping to cheer the team on, and even giving a small inspirational speech to the team before play started.  The team had recently undergone a name change, adopting a new moniker as the Topspin Titans, and Brannon felt that he should say a few words on the team’s new identity.  “I just told everyone what a Titan is, and what it stands for” Brannon said.  “I said some history and talked about other teams who have had the name and the behavior they have had.”  Following in the footsteps of TC Williams High (Remember the Titans) and the NFL’s Tennessee Titans seemed to be a noble calling for a player who had worked so hard to overcome so much adversity. 

Brannon’s mother, Karen Dessyn, was one of the team’s coaches and was thoroughly impressed by the conduct of her team both on and off the court.  The team was formed with six players, the league minimum.  According to Karen “we were sometimes waiting on a player to finish up one match so they could go play another.  These kids weren’t quitters.”  Karen was also emphatic about the message that she and the team’s other coach wanted to convey to their players.  “Personal development, fitness, with a little competition” was emphasized on the team, with values and fitness as the focus.  She stated that she just wanted the kids to have fun.  The coaching seems to have taken seed, at least in Coach Dessyn’s mind.  She says that the players showed “you don’t have to have numbers, you just have to have heart” to do well.  The coaching strategy has drawn the attention of other Junior Team participants as the team has been approached by other players looking to join. 

The Topspin Titans have needed the heart and dedication gained during the season, as they have had a rash of bad luck recently.  Not only did Brannon have a broken wrist, but his partner, Taylor, played the tournament with a broken toe, and another player on the team was forced to withdraw with a broken arm.  Ironically, the player with the broken arm was originally supposed to take Brannon’s place after he broke his wrist.

Players such as these show the courage and determination that are the hallmarks of champions.  It is often bemoaned that today’s youth ‘give up’ and ‘just quit’ when the going is tough, but perhaps the problem is not young people giving up on sports but adults giving up on children.  Certainly Brannon and his teammates have not given up on anything and will be a force to be reckoned with in next year’s Junior Team Tennis season. 

Topspin Titans

Topspin Titans