BUFFALO GROVE — There are many similarities between the senior seasons of Carmel sisters Brienne and Jasmine Minor.
Jasmine Minor didn’t play for Carmel as a junior, but she returned in 2010. She finished her senior campaign a perfect 37-0 and won the state singles title.
Brienne Minor followed the same path. She didn’t play high school tennis as a junior, but winning a state championship remained a prominent goal.
“She played USTA events [last year], and all she talked about was coming back to win it for this year,” said her father, Kevin Minor. “It was definitely on her mind.”
Brienne Minor marched through her senior season, which ended with her winning a state singles title on Saturday. She went undefeated during the regular season, then won the ESCC singles title and only lost two games en route to a sectional championship.
Still, it was the state singles title that she said was her sole goal in coming back to Carmel as a senior. Kevin Minor said his younger daughter had been aiming to win state ever since Jasmine Minor won it when Brienne Minor was in eighth grade.
On Saturday afternoon, it looked like Brienne Minor’s chance was slipping away.
Hinsdale Central sophomore Isabella Lorenzini won the first set of the pair’s state final match. The athletic, powerful, intense Lorenzini put pressure on Brienne Minor throughout the first set, in part because she played so well defensively. Lorenzini turned a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory in the first set.
Brienne Minor made several unforced errors during the last four games of the first set, including three double faults that allowed Lorenzini to break her serve and pull even at 4-4. The momentum turned in that game, and Brienne Minor was in a bad place mentally after she lost a set for the first time this season.
“I was just in a really negative mood,” said Brienne Minor, who has committed to Michigan and is ranked by tennisrecruiting.net as the No. 15 player in the Class of 2015. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to lose this. This is my last year. I’m going to lose this.’ ”
Between the first and second sets, Brienne Minor sat with Carmel coach Chris Kannenberg. Kannenberg said he offered a little bit of strategic advice, but his biggest point was almost identical to the advice Jasmine Minor gave her sister before the match.
“She just really said to go out there and believe in yourself, and go kill it,” Brienne Minor said.
Brienne Minor repeated that in her head in the second set, she said, and it helped her elevate her game. She served better and cut down on her unforced errors in the second. Moreover, the errors she did make didn’t seem to bother her as much as they did in the first set — especially when she pulled away from Lorenzini late in the second set to win 6-4.
The pair went back and forth in the third set. They broke each other multiple times, but Brienne Minor again elevated her game when it mattered the most. She won the final three games of the third set to prevail 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Brienne Minor finished her senior season a perfect 34-0. Beyond that, she accomplished something she had wanted to achieve since 2010 by not letting the huge amount of pressure — both internal and external — overwhelm her during critical junctures in the biggest match of her high school career.
“A lot comes down to how you play [in] the moment, and she’s good at it,” Kannenberg said. “That’s a testament to her mental toughness.”