CHEYENNE – Torisha Brown nearly quit the Cheyenne South tennis team after her first practice last season.
“I’m not really a runner, and we had to run around the parking lot about 10 times that day,” Brown said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to quit if this is an everyday thing.’”
The subsequent practices didn’t feature nearly as much running, so Brown stuck it out.
She won four matches in the Bison’s No. 1 singles spot – including one at the state tournament – to tie their single-season and career wins records. Brown should eclipse both marks this season.
“I’m not very passionate about a lot of things, but I have become really passionate about tennis,” she said. “Breaking those records would mean a lot.”
Brown has come a long way in the past year, South coach Josh Cossitt said.
“She is one of the smartest players on our team, and that carries over to the court,” he said. “This is a thinking kids’ sport. She is just trying to catch up physically.”
Cossitt isn’t merely talking about tennis IQ when he references Brown’s intellect.
She turns 15 later this month, but is entering her junior year at PODER Academy. Her test scores and grades were so solid that her teachers suggested she skip eighth grade. She is starting some classes at Laramie County Community College this fall.
Brown moved from Jamaica to Wyoming as a 9-year-old.
“I was so excited to see snow,” she said with a smile. “I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s snow!’”
The excitement has since worn off
“I’m not really into the snow and cold,” Brown said. “I walk in it just as much as I have to, and that’s it.”
Brown has been attending PODER since moving to Cheyenne. The charter school offers tennis instruction. Having a foundation in the sport gave her a leg up on many of her South teammates, who have little or no tennis experience.
Despite her experience, Brown was a self-described wild hitter last season. There were matches where she struggled and hit shots feet long or wide of the court.
Brown spent the offseason working with Cossitt and a dedicated group of players at the Frontier Park Family Tennis Center and Holliday Park. Those efforts have helped Brown cut down on her errant shots and develop other areas of her game.
“I’m not a wild hitter anymore,” she said. “I am also faster. I know that because I’m getting to more balls. My sportsmanship has also improved.
“Tennis is a sport where people get angry. It’s easy to get angry in tennis. I have learned that if I get angry at myself, I’m not going to get the ball in.”
Between Brown, Cheyenne Central junior Emily Needham and Cheyenne East junior Lexie Woolridge, the Capital City is home to three of the top girls No. 1 singles players in Wyoming, Cossitt said. Brown could be a factor late in the season, he added.
“She will be right in the mix because she has been playing a lot of matches,” Cossitt said. “She has learned to make better decisions and have more patience in rallies. She is able to stay in rallies a little longer than she used to. She used to get impatient.
“(Brown) has good court mentality. You never know how she is doing because she doesn’t reflect a lot of emotion. If she can stay in matches physically, she could win a lot of matches and be in the top four in the conference. She may even find herself in the championship match.”