Brady Anderson recycles a lesson his father, Tim, sought to teach him as up-and-coming tennis player even today.
"My dad always tells me people should look at you and not know if you're winning or losing," said Anderson, a sophomore tennis player for Sehome High School.
His temperament mirrors his fathers' teachings, rarely departing from his calm-and-collected personality on the tennis court. With that being one of many reasons, Anderson, who recorded an 18-2 record this year en route to a second-place finish in the Class 2A District Tournament and a berth into the state singles tournament, has been chosen as the All-Whatcom County Boys' Tennis Player of the Year.
Anderson, who just turned 16 years old, went undefeated in conference play this year for Sehome, helping lead the Mariners to a share of the Northwest Conference title with Bellingham after posting a 13-1 team record. It will be his second consecutive trip to state after placing fourth in the doubles tournament last year.
Not to discount Anderson's run in the doubles tournament a year ago, but his sights were always set toward the singles tournament, especially after watching his former teammate, 2012 All-Whatcom County Boys' Tennis Player of the Year Avery West, lay claim to the title with relative ease.
Anderson recalled watching West dispatch his opponents from the stands at the Nordstrom Tennis Center at the University of Washington last spring. He recalled imagining what it would be like to be in a similar position, facing similar competition, reaping similar rewards.
Soon, his thoughts will rely less on imagination than actual memories when he graces those same courts this spring.
"I watched Avery last year, and it was really good competition. It will definitely be really tough, but that's where I belong," Anderson said. "I like that I'm going to be facing people that can beat me. ... It is really good to have people at your level and better than you."
Anderson is largely on an island in Whatcom County. The slightly-built sophomore had little trouble against inter-conference foes, his most difficult match being a 6-3, 6-3 win over Lynden's Grant Wolffis in late September.
"Brady is not the type of player that is just going to blow you out, so much so that they don't score points. But he always wins in straight sets, and it's pretty lopsided," said Sehome coach Bonna Giller in a phone interview. "He more plays his game and stays within himself. He doesn't really care about who is across the net."
His game is methodical, Giller added, never stretching beyond the confines of his abilities. The reality, though, is that come the state tournament, Anderson is going to be facing a new level of competition unlike he has seen for the better part of the 2013-14 season.
Only twice has he faced another competitor who he'll see at the state tournament, and that was against Sammamish's Ethan Romney, who dispatched of Anderson in straight sets in both their matches - their final one being in the district championships.
Anderson, during their final meeting, again relied on the teachings of his father. He admitted that it's difficult to maintain a cool temperament in the face of adversity, or in the face of a straight-set loss.
"I feel like I haven't had a breakthrough in my matches, especially against a good player like Ethan," Anderson said. "I need to play looser. I get really ready for a match, and I know I can give him a good match. I (just) need to play loose."
Much of this experience - going to state as a singles player, taking on team's top player - is novel for Anderson. He watched West shoulder that burden for the Mariners last year, with this year being his opportunity to do so himself. And everything that comes along with the added responsibility takes time, Giller said, citing his age and inexperience as playing a factor against top-ranked opponents like Romney who thrive in dictating the pace of a match.
"He is going to get challenged, and he is going to have to adjust his game a bit," Giller said.
There's little Anderson isn't aware of, either. He's a player that in the eighth grade made his way down to the Fairhaven Tennis Club before school in the early hours of the morning to get extra hitting in. He's a young tennis player who has taken to this particular offseason in the aim of improving his stamina, eyeing the sure-fire possibility of playing in long, three-set matches at state.
And while taking home the state championship may be a reach, Giller said, the reality remains that he is just a sophomore.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports news.