By Josh Grant, Sun Correspondent
THE LOWN FILE
Parents: Jennifer and Garrett Lown
Siblings: Jessica Lown
College: Western Carolina University
Intended major: Environmental Science
Favorite pre-match food: Banana
Favorite school subject: Science
Favorite non-tennis sport: Volleyball
Favorite TV Show: The Office
Favorite music: All of It
ENGLEWOOD — As a member of the Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society and graduating from Lemon Bay High School with Magna Cum Laude honors, Sarah Lown is not the typical, high school student.
And, she graduated with more than 250 community service hours, to boot.
With all the focus on studying and preparing for the next step academically, all while trying to have a little fun in the last year of her high school career, how is Sarah Lown now a two-time winner of The Sun’s Girls Tennis Player of the Year award?
The answer is pretty simple.
“She’s much more than a super woman,” Lemon Bay coach Darrell Roach said. “She works harder than anyone else on the team.”
As the captain of the Manta Rays, Lown led her squad to a 14-2 record, while finishing 27-6 overall personally — 12-5 as the No. 1 singles player and a 15-1 record at No. 1 doubles.
The dominating record led to a county championship, District 2A-11 championship, Region 2A-6 championship and a fifth-place tie at the Class 2A state finals.
Quite a year, right?
Lown’s greatness doesn’t lend itself to one, or even the past two years.
During her four years at Lemon Bay High School — three straight as the No. 1 singles player — the Manta Rays achieved a 53-9 record and finished at least in the top six of the state finals.
“She is the only truly year-round tennis player that I’ve had on the team for the last few years,” Roach said. “She is a hard worker wholeads by example. Others want to emulate everything she does.”
With every reason to brag and boast about her countless accomplishments, it is Lown’s ability to stay humble, focused and her need to constantly improve that makes her stand out from the rest.
“This year, I cut back a little on playing tennis because ultimately, academics is much more important,” Lown said. “I had to learn how to divide sports life and my academic life.”
Each summer, Lown spends her time in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, working as a counselor at the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, North Carolina, teaching younger kids the joy of playing tennis.
“Some kids just see this as a vacation, but every once in a while, we get some kids who are really into the sport,” Lown said. “It’s really exciting to see them evolve as a good player.”
Lown’s next move is to Western Carolina University — 22 miles from her summer home in Cashiers and 678 miles from Englewood. In Cullowhee, she will study Environmental Science but not immediately play for the tennis team, in order to focus on academics.
“(Western Carolina) has a full team, so I won’t be playing for them right away,” Lown said. “I’m hoping eventually to join the team as a walk on.”
How does Lown intend to keep her game sharp?
“They don’t have a club team now, but I’m going to try to start a club team,” Lown said.
As a student and full-time athlete, Lown knows the type of commitment it takes to start fresh in a new place, but also knows that life isn’t all about business.
“To commit to one sport is tough because some athletes burn out,” Lown said. “You have to balance it out with a social life and what’s important to you.”
It seems to many in the Englewood area that Lown’s credentials and accomplishments have only just begun.
Lemon Bay • Senior
Finished 17-1 as Lemon Bay’s No. 2 singles player and 13-2 in doubles with Chloe DiDonato, winning district and region titles in both on her way to state.
Lemon Bay • Senior
Went 16-1 as Lemon Bay’s No. 3 singles player and teamed with Sarah Lown to go 15-1 in doubles, winning district and region titles in both on her way to state.
Lemon Bay • Junior
Went 13-5 as Lemon Bay’s No. 4 singles player and 13-2 in doubles with Ashley Tormey, winning district titles in both. She also took home a region title in doubles on her way to state.
Lemon Bay • Freshman
Went 12-5 as Lemon Bay’s No. 5 singles player, winning district and region titles on her way to state.
Charlotte: Jessica Moore
Port Charlotte: Corrine Bresky, Brittany McGivern, Zoe Burkhart
All-Area team compiled by Jordan Kroeger