On the verge of winning the Class A private-school state championship Saturday against First Presbyterian Day, Derrick Brown allowed the second set at No. 1 singles to slip away after having match point.
Alan Norsworthy came to his rescue at No. 2, when he came from behind to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and secure the Wolverines a 3-1 victory at Clayton County International Park.
The Wolverines, state champions again after winning in 2010, needed nearly three hours to win this time around.
“We knew coming in that No. 1 and No. 2 singles were going to be key,” Walker coach Barry Foy said. “Give (First Presbyterian Day) credit. They just battled the entire time. Those were two really good singles matches.”
Walker (18-3) appeared to be in good shape after Will Chocallo and Daniel Sosnovsky defeated Dylan Lyles and Max Chandler 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles, and Austin Newsome and Sloan Coolbroth won 6-1, 6-0 over Brooks Hanson and Tristan Hilyar at No. 2 doubles.
Brown was up a set and cruising in the second with a 3-0 lead against Daniel Strawn. Afterward, Strawn kept unforced errors to a minimum and made Brown earn every point. Still, Brown managed to stay ahead a service break and had a chance to serve for the match at 5-3.
After losing his serve, Brown had a match-point opportunity against Strawn’s serve, but was unable to return a forced approach shot. Strawn went on to hold his serve and Brown went on to lose the set in a tiebreaker.
They were even in the third set at 4-all when Norsworthy won the deciding point.
“I got the clincher in the semis (against Athens Academy),” Brown said, “and I talked to Alan before the match and said it was your turn to do it. I’m happy for him.”
Norsworthy was just starting the third set against Michael Durham when Brown had match point. For a moment, Norsworthy didn’t think he would have to play for very long.
“I was hoping (Brown) would finish so I wouldn’t have to play tight like that,” Norsworthy said. “I kept looking over and looking over to see how it went.”
Norsworthy then decided to keep his eye on his own court.
They were on serve until 4-all when Norsworthy won a pair of multiple deuce games to clinch the win.
The game went to deuce three times before Norsworthy got the break he needed to serve for the match at 5-4.
Then, the nerves got to him. His service game started with two erratic forehands, but he managed to bring it to 30-all by winning a pair of lengthy points. He went on to save three break points before holding on.
“I was shaking I was so nervous,” Norsworthy said. “I had to think of a game plan for each point and focus on that instead of the total outcome.”
On the game’s third deuce, Norsworthy earned his first match point attempt when Durham pounded a second serve return into the net. He then won the match on a missed volley by Durham.
First Presbyterian Day’s only point came when Miller Durham defeated Rob Walsh 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles.