We’ve all heard the cliché: The postman always delivers the mail whether it be rain, sleet or snow, right? Well, I think I have another profession with the same never say die attitude: tennis professional.
Meet Hideaway Beach tennis pro, Leslie Holmquist Browne, who exemplified the real meaning of mental toughness despite incredible odds. Even though Leslie had a previous injury to her finger (she gashed her finger cutting a tomato and it hit the artery), she had it wrapped to the max and was armed and ready to go. However, midway through her ladies group lesson, the bandage broke and blood was dripping down her finger and arm, and fell on the balls in her teaching basket and then down to the court surface.
With her student’s urging to end the lesson, Leslie tied a towel around her hand and continued to feed the ball! “Leslie, please take care of your finger. We understand,” one of the ladies remarked. “I’m ok. Let’s set up the reaction drill,” Leslie offered to her class. With her blood-soaked towel draped around her hand, Leslie continued to feed the balls with her dominant hand and finished the class fifteen minutes later. Immediately after the ladies tennis class, Leslie went to Physicians Regional and had Dr. Walker stitch up her wound.
Leslie was a stand-out junior star from Fairfield, CT, and a top USTA-New England-ranked junior player. Perhaps her greatest and most notable feat was her one year on the BoysAndrew Warde (Fairfield High School) team. This particular team won the Connecticut State High School Championships in New Haven at Yale University. Back in the day, Andrew Warde could not field a girl’s tennis team so 15 year-old Leslie Holmquist qualified for the boy’s team. For a brief stint, Leslie was taught by legendary coach, Jimmy Evert (father and coach of Chris Evert), and her game blossomed under his guidance. Leslie had such a stellar USTA junior record that she was offered a full tennis scholarship to play tennis at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Leslie continued to win big matches in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) as she played No. 2 for four consecutive seasons. After her 1979 graduation, she moved to Winter Haven, FL, and continued her tennis on the Florida USTA circuit. While living in Winter Haven (Cypress Gardens and the former home of the Boston Red Sox), Leslie dominated in three different divisions: Women’s 25 Singles (No. 3), Women’s 25 Doubles (No. 1) and Mixed-Doubles/Husband-Wife (No. 1 and undefeated). Leslie’s best ranking was in husband-wife competition compiling a 50-0 record!
Leslie’s steady play has been her trademark since the 12-and-under singles competition. As a tennis coach, Leslie preaches patience. “I always tell my students to be like me: steady, consistent and accurate,” Leslie offered last week during her ladies clinics. Leslie adores the baseline and she constantly exhibits patience and the ability to hit crosscourt until the opponents breaks down and makes anunforced error.
“I’m a classic Scorpio and I always finish what I start. In tennis terminology, if I’m playing doubles and hitting my groundstrokes crosscourt, I stick with the same pattern until my opponent misses. I try to be true to myself and not attempt shots that I’m not capable of. If need be, I will rally 40-50 shots per point, if my opponent is also steady,” Leslie said, explaining her life and tennis philosophy.
“Even though my game is so different than my son’s game (Matt Browne is a dynamic powerful hitter), I tell him to not try crazy, low-percentage shots,” Leslie explained at the Hideaway courts last week to her students.
Bottom line: Leslie Browne is pure old school. If you commit to a project or event or a tennis lesson, be there and ready to go. Leslie is a proud, determined woman who knows the meaning of hard work and dedication. In other words, Leslie’s students can always rely on her. Leslie’s actions speak volumes about hard work, dedication and commitment. Unless it’s pouring down rain, look for Leslie on court three!
Don’t forget the Fourth Annual Hideaway Beach Open Doubles tournament March 1-2. If you have any questions, contact Doug Browne at 239-642-2845.
Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing a tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.