DOWNINGTOWN >> There are lots of reasons why Downingtown West’s Jordan Bradley is the Daily Local News’ All-Area Girls’ Tennis Player of the Year for 2017. But at the head of the list is this: she can’t seem to get enough of the game.
A junior with the Whippets, Bradley practically lived at the tennis courts in East Brandywine Park growing up. That’s where she would play set after set with her older sister, Payton, sometimes playing until it was too dark to continue.
“That’s how we really got good,” Jordan said. “We still play all the time. Payton is the main source of me being the player I am now.
“Whenever I don’t have a practice to go to, I’ll say, ‘Payton, let’s go out and hit.’ She’s helped me get so much better. I always say that the younger kid has such a big advantage because you always have that older influence.”
Payton was the No. 1 singles player at West for four seasons from 2013-16. Jordan was No. 2 for her first two years and then took over the top spot this season when Payton graduated and left to play Division I tennis at Quinnipiac.
“Everything she’s done, I’ve seen and learned from,” Jordan explained.
You don’t have to look hard to find Jordan Bradley on tennis courts across the region. She hits a lot with high school teammate Holly Koons and with West assistant coach Steve Motyka. She met her personal coach, Joel Irwin, at Penn Oaks Tennis and Fitness Club years ago. And she practices often at DuPont Country Club in Delaware under the supervision of coach Rob Wirth.
“Jordan is strong,” said Downingtown West head coach Justin DePietropaolo. “Compared to other girls in the area and the state, she is probably one of the most powerful high school players out there.”
A year ago as a sophomore, Jordan would have been the No. 1 singles player for most high school teams. She went on to finish third in the state as a No. 2.
“Heading into this season, I was hoping for the best and praying I could make it to states,” she said. “That was my main goal.”
Elevated to the more competitive No. 1 singles slot, Bradley breezed through the regular season, going undefeated. She never even dropped a set, and went on to capture the Ches-Mont National singles title.
“She hits a hard, flat ball,” DePietropaolo said. “If you look at a lot of high school girls, they are skilled but they hit a lot of loopy shots. There are a lot of boys Jordan could beat, she is that powerful.
“Her way of winning is powering through people. There are a lot of girls out there that just can’t handle her pace. When she is on, not many can beat her.”
At the District 1 Tournament, Bradley advanced all the way to the final before falling. And along the way, she suffered a nagging foot injury.
“When you’re playing, adrenaline just kicks in, and you don’t really feel it until after the match is over,” Bradley said. “It’s still giving me problems.”
In the PIAA Class 3A Tournament, Bradley advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Ashley Long of North Allegheny, who went on to take the state crown. Bradley’s season record was 23-3.
“Jordan was lights out the best player in Chester County,” DePietropaolo said. “All three of her losses came against highly-ranked players, and she was right in there in those matches too.”
Bradley is a rarity in girls’ high school tennis: she is a power player who is constantly looking for an opportunity to get to the net against a series of opponents who are only comfortable at the baseline.
“My game is basically staying aggressive at all times,” she said. “Any opportunity I can I try to get to the net and put it away. The second I know I am hitting a good, strong ball I immediately close in to the net.”
In the middle of her freshman season in college, Payton has been a valuable singles and doubles starter at Quinnipiac. Jordan is already getting recruiting calls and literature from colleges, even though she won’t graduate until the spring of 2019.
“I’m definitely looking to play college tennis,” she said.
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