Meriam-Webster’s definition of the word dominate is to “have power or control over; to be the most important part of; to be much more powerful or successful than others in a game, competition.” This week’s Athlete of the Week, sophomore Brooke Pilkington, embodies every level of that definition, and the tennis team has proven itself as the state’s best as a result.
Much was expected of the Dolphins at the onset of the 2013 season thanks to an abundance of returning talent. Despite playing all home and away contests off campus, the Dolphins showed poise, tenacity and the ability to take on all who entered the arena with them. Brooke was the leader of that charge.
As the regular season came to a close, it was clear that Brooke was the heartbeat of the team as she dominated all opponents, and that style of play continued into the TCIS tournament. The result is Brooke picking up almost every accolade available as she was named TCIS Player of the Year and TCIS Tournament MVP. She finished the regular season with a 13-0 singles record and a matching 13-0 doubles mark. She swept the competition in the TCIS tournament, earning singles and doubles titles, and in the process she didn’t drop a set in singles or doubles play.
“On the court, Brooke covers space like a world class tennis player,” said head coach George Pilkington, who also serves as proud father. “She makes her opponents work harder than most want to.”
As with all success, this level of play didn’t happen randomly.
“Brooke’s game has improved over the last year mainly because of her maturity,” continued Coach Pilkington, whose team heads into the state tournament with an undefeated record. “Brooke is a year round player. When most girls her age are lying on the beach she is on the tennis three hours a day, five days a week. On the court she reminds me more of her sister (Brittany) everyday in her competitive toughness.”
This competitiveness has left Brooke in a class by herself, and that was on full display during the TCIS tournament last weekend. Going into the tournament, Brooke had not been challenged in singles or doubles matches all season. She faced Wictoria Plawska of Hampton Roads Academy, an opponent she beat 6-3, 6-4 during the regular season. Although the match showed a closer 7-5, 6-4 outcome, it wasn’t a match that hung in the balance.
“Brooke played the entire match and never removed her warm up pants,” Coach Pilkington recalled. “After I asked her why she left them on she said: ‘I never got hot, and I was winning.’ Brooke is very superstitious.”
This superstition combines with a maturity that has led Brooke to realize her opportunity, and the chance for success has driven Brooke to put in the hard work. While her accomplishments are already extraordinary, she has only just begun.
“Brooke tells me she just wants the team to do well as a group, but knowing Brooke and the pressure she puts on herself I think she will show up with something to prove,” Coach Pilkington said of the upcoming state tournament. “As her sister Brittany said: ‘I wouldn’t want to play her next week.’”
Unfortunately for her opponents, they don’t have such a choice. Brooke will once again represent Cape Henry with dignity at the Division 1 state tournament, and she intends to do everything she can to position her team for championship success, no matter what her opponents may want.