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Madison Brengle – A True Diamond State Gem

April 20, 2004 05:42 PM

By Claire Walton, Atlantic Racquet Press

It is not surprising that Madison Brengle’s favorite tennis player is Justine Henin-Hardenne.  Like the Belgian number 1, Madison is petite (5’3 ½ ”, 115 lbs.), strong, and a consummate competitor.  The Dover, DE, resident turns 14 on April 3, 2004, but already has been recognized as a player with the skills of a future champion.

Perhaps that is why on December 24, 2003 – one day after finishing 4th in the G14s at the prestigious Orange Bowl International Tennis Tournament in Florida – Madison received a phone call that would change her life.  Under the aegis of the USTA’s High Performance program, she was invited to join a team of only 8 American youths (four girls and four boys) ages 14-and-under to represent the country in ETA (Tennis Europe) competition.  Coached by Debbie Graham and Middle States native David Delucia, the squad would gain experience in an international arena, competing against top European juniors in their age group. 
Madison remembers that momentous phone call well:  “When Debbie Graham called me, I was so happy.  I had been out of the country before, but never to compete.”

In January 2004, Madison traveled to Europe and served notice that she was a player to be reckoned with.  In Telford, England, unseeded in a field of 64, she won the G14 singles title at the prestigious Teen Tennis 14-and-Under International Championships.  Teaming with fellow American, Logan Hansen, Madison also was a doubles semifinalist.  En route to the singles crown, she defeated seeded players in five of six matches, including the top three seeds.  In the final, she defeated #1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 7-5, 6-4. 

Following her triumph in Britain, Madison crossed the Channel to Tarbes, France, to participate in Les Petits As, one of the top junior tournaments in the world for players 14-and-under.  There, she reached the singles final and the doubles quarters (again with Hansen).  In the singles final, seeded #4, Madison gave the #3 seed, a 12-year-old Russian named Yelena Kulikova, a difficult time before bowing, 6-4, 6-4.  To put into perspective the importance of this tournament and the great honor it is to play there (much less reach the finals!), consider that the event attracts 40,000 spectators, and that past participants include Juan Carlos Ferrero, Roger Federer, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Cljisters!

Speaking of her European experience, Madison notes,  “It was very exciting to play in front of such big crowds.  One of my favorite memories is of playing in France and hearing a woman in the crowd call out, ‘Go, Madison!’ as she waved an American flag.  That was really special.”

Many of Madison’s US appearances have been equally exhilarating, and she has shown prowess and versatility in both singles and doubles.  In 2001, for example, she swept the G12 singles and doubles crowns at the USTA National Open Championships, and went on in 2002 to win the mixed doubles 12s championship at the prominent Eddie Herr International.  At that same tournament, she reached the singles semis.  At the USTA Supernational Spring Championship L1 in April, 2002, Brengle reached the singles semis, and teamed with fellow Middle States-er, Kristen Roth (Ardmore, PA), to advance to the doubles quarters.  Seven months later, she was a singles semifinalist and teamed with another junior from the Section, Alison Riske (McMurray, PA), to take third place in doubles.   .

In 2003, Madison continued her impressive play.  Not only did she reach the semis of the G14s at the Junior Orange Bowl – the last American left in the draw and the only unseeded player to reach the final four (losing to the top seed and eventual champion) – but she also advanced to the quarters of the G14s at the prestigious Peach State Championships.

A right-handed player with a two-handed backhand, Madison has been described as “an aggressive baseliner who is not afraid to come to net.”  Indeed, she prefers fast surfaces, is especially partial to grass, and her favorite shot is her swinging volley.  Brengle began her romance with tennis early in life, at age two, as her mom Gaby (a teaching pro at Dover Indoor Tennis Center and Madison’s coach ) gently tossed balls to her in the house.  Gradually, the lessons moved to rallying on the driveway and then on court.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Madison’s mother believes that her daughter’s positive attitude, sound footwork, and ability to see the court well are among her greatest strengths.

Madison’s tennis regimen typically includes practice and drills 6 days/week and working with a trainer three days/week.  When not working on her own game, Madison often can be found helping 4-7 year-olds at Dover Indoor.  Homeschooled by her father, Dan, Madison is an avid student of US history who also enjoys oil painting and caring for 7-month-old (and 70 lb.!) Komondor,Yeti,
Brengle is “very proud” of her brother, David, 16, who plays high school tennis.
Is a pro career in Madison’s future?  “I don’t know, but it would be great!”

Madison finished 2003 ranked #4 in USTA G12.  Already in 2004, she has risen to #18 in ETA G14.  Watch for this talented Middle States phenom to make more headlines in the future.