Mike Briggs' many talents on a tennis court have inspired players and coaches alike to marvel at him and praise him.
On a recent Monday afternoon at the Racquet Club of Irvine, Briggs, a junior at Corona del Mar High School, was so moved by his own play that he, too, felt compelled to comment on it.
No, this is not the latest in that crazy, mixed-up world of teen-age jargon. Dog breath, in the parlance of the tennis court, means, well . . . dog breath. As in, not so good, awful, really bad.
Briggs is not one to mince his words, or take it easy on himself.
Currently ranked fifth on the national junior circuit, Briggs won the Southern Section singles championship as a sophomore in 1985. This season, he was 47-1 in singles matches during the regular season, and made it to the semifinals of the Southern Section singles championships.
With Briggs playing at No. 1 singles, Corona del Mar made it to the 4-A quarterfinals.
For all this he is The Times' tennis Player of the Year.
With a powerful 5-foot 10-inch, 165-pound build, he believes that the mind not only overcomes matter, but also opponents.
"When you reach a certain level, all the players have good talent. What separates them is the way they approach a point or a game," he said. "You can just tell from looking at guys during a close match who is going to win the close points."
This summer, Briggs embarks on an extensive playing tour.
One week he's in Kalamazoo, Mich., the next, Louisville. Another week finds him in Philadelphia at the International Grass Courts Championships; still another he's at Flushing Meadow for the U.S. Open juniors tournament.
Briggs does not lose often. Chances are he will be a member of this year's Junior Davis Cup team--he was an alternate on last year's team. Chances are he'll reach his goal of moving into the top four in junior rankings this summer.
"I don't make outrageous goals, like, I want to win Wimbledon," Briggs said. "I make what I think is a realistic goal, then I go after it the best I can."
ALL COUNTY FIRST TEAM
Mike Briggs Corona del Mar Junior Doug Eisenman Foothill Senior Gary Pearne Mission Viejo Senior DOUBLES Jamil Atcha Blake Dennison Capistrano Valley Barry Hancock Jeff Giesa Foothill Dave Moore Steve Arnott Edison SECOND TEAM SINGLES Ed Peregrino Western Junior Dan Turbow Foothill Junior Carsten Hoffman University Junior DOUBLES Brad Majers Ian Haworth Laguna Beach Paul Corkery Mike Hirt University Jim Sammon Eric Glade El Dorado