From the Sports Editor: Dover is still where Brengle’s heart is

Madison BrengleAt heart, Madison Brengle is still just a kid from Dover.

It doesn’t matter that she’s played tennis everywhere from Melbourne to Paris to Beijing.

When a friend sent her a video clip of TV announcers mentioning that she was from Delaware last year, the 25-year-old was genuinely thrilled.

“I saved it on my phone,” Brengle said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Yeah, they brought it up. I love it.’ … I was so happy about that.”

So even coming off the best tennis year of her career, Brengle certainly hasn’t gotten too big to come back to Dover when she gets the chance.

On Monday, Brengle was back on the courts at Dover Indoor Tennis — owned by her parents, Gabby and Dan — teaching lessons to youngsters. The next morning, she boarded a flight to Dubai to play in her next pro tournament.

Brengle said likes getting out there with the junior players.

“I love coming back here whenever I can and working with some of the kids,” she said. “It’s home. I love being out here. They’re a good bunch.

“When I came out and worked with them the other night, they’re fantastic,” Brengle added, “I don’t get to be here that often. So, when I came back, I get to see how much they’ve all improved. I think that’s so much fun.”

Of course, it wasn’t all that long ago that Brengle was just a youngster herself on the same courts.

Last year she earned the highest ranking of her 11-year pro career — No. 35 in the world. She reached the round of 16 in the Australian Open and then followed up that career highlight by reaching the third round of the U.S. Open last fall.

But before she climbed to that pinnacle, Brengle got some help from the older players at Dover Indoor. As a kid, she played against adults to keep elevating her game.

“The community really got behind me,” said Brengle. “The older guys, when they would get off of work, they would come out and play with me. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am if they didn’t make that effort.”

While she hasn’t always gotten the results she’s wanted, Brengle believes she’s figured out some things about her game over the past couple years.

Matching some of her 2015 accomplishments won’t be easy, though. But that doesn’t mean she can’t continue to play at a high level.

Brengle is currently ranked No. 57 in the world and made it to the third round of the Australian Open before falling to eventual champion Angelique Kerber of Germany.

“I play better when I have goals in mind,” said Brengle. “I think part of being happy playing is having something that you’re working toward and getting there.

“I set goals last year and I achieved a few of them, not all of them.”

One thing Brengle would like to do is “redeem” herself from her disappointing 6-0, 6-0 loss to Venus Williams at last year’s Wimbledon. Brengle said she had taken a fall on the grass surface that was still playing on her mind.

“It’s not that I didn’t fight,” she said. “I kind of got played off the court. It’s something to work toward — playing against those bigger players and being able to hold your own a little more.”

Clearly, at this point in her career, Brengle can’t be called an overnight sensation. People on the WTA tour know who she is.

But now a few more fans know about the tennis player from Dover.

On the list of the most clicked-on players on wtatennis.com for 2015, Brengle was No. 42.

Brengle says she can remember every one of her matches. All those lessons have added up.

“Hopefully you learn something every match you play,” she said. “You’ll have good matches and you’ll have bad matches. There’s so much up and down with an individual sport.

“As you get older, you have to learn how to handle those ups and downs a little bit better. And maybe some of the other stuff gives you a little perspective about the ‘downs.’”

Odds & ends

• Former NFL player Jamie Duncan is thought to be a candidate for the Dover High football head coaching job. The Christiana High grad was a standout linebacker at Vanderbilt before going on to play seven seasons in the NFL. Duncan and current Lake Forest coach Freddie Johnson are thought to be the front-runners to replace former coach Dante Jones with the Senators.

• Dover physical therapist George Edelman became the first swimmer inducted into the University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday.

He was the Colonial Athletic Association Swimmer of the Year in 1989 an was named the to league’s Silver Anniversary team. He won seven of the eight events in the CAA championship meet during his career.

Edelman’s wife, Julie (Gorman), is a member of the University of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame.

• Polytech High lacrosse player Tom Gilmore is organizing the ‘For Our Heroes 5K,’ a 5K run/walk which will be held on March 19 to benefit ALS patients and research.

Gilmore is starting the event in memory of his grandmother, an Air Force veteran, who died last March from complications from ALS. The neurological disease affects about 30,000 people at any given time and is twice as prevalent in military veterans.

For more information, contact Gilmore at thomas.gilmore@students.polytech.k12.de.us.

• Three players from Delaware high schools have been invited to the NFL Combine.

That list includes cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Delcastle/Minnesota), tight end David Grinnage (Newark/North Carolina State) and running back Wendell Smallwood (Red Lion Christian/West Virginia).

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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