Dustin “Dreddy” Brown almost came to the Cayman Islands for the PwC tournament a few months ago and had he done so, he would have enjoyed the legendary hospitality of the Tennis Club in South Sound.
Brown was playing in the Miami Open at the time and was considering making the hop here. It would have given the tournament tremendous kudos and since then, Brown’s four-set demolition of the 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last week has dramatically raised the 6-foot, 5-inch showman’s profile.
Brown is still enjoying his spell in the spotlight after last Thursday’s upset victory against the legendary Spaniard, but within two days the Jamaican-German was out of grass court’s premiere tournament, losing to No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki in four sets.
A tireless athlete, Brown by Sunday was playing club tennis in Cologne, Germany. Having won only $30,000 in prize money this year before Wimbledon, the $120,000 check from his escapades at the All England club will keep him going for a while in expenses. He had to go through qualifying rounds at Roehampton just to play at Wimbledon.
Brown, 30, is an unusual fusion of cultures. He was born in Winsen, Germany, to a Jamaican father and German mother; he went to live in Jamaica at age 2.
Life on the pro circuit is not easy for the world No. 102-ranked stylist, who used to play Davis Cup matches for Jamaica before returning to Germany in 2004 because he felt the Jamaican tennis establishment was not supporting him as well as he deserved. Even now, he openly admits that he would play for England if given the opportunity because he has a British grandmother.
Brown said of his winnings, “It’s one great week, obviously a lot of money. But there’s also so many weeks where we throw money out the window basically, just for flights and food.”
Handling that sort of adversity helps strengthen his will, he says, a much-needed component for the feast-and-famine existence he endures on the tennis circuit. He chooses not to pay for a coach and used to travel around the European circuit in a Volkswagen camper van to save money.
Brown says he draws his strength from his father Leroy, whose face he has tattooed on his stomach. His parents helped him buy the van and he has since repaid them for it. He is based in Montego Bay when staying in Jamaica and has no intention of cutting off his locks, which he has been growing for 19 years.
Although he went out in the third round to Serbian Troicki, at least Brown had the satisfaction of producing two of the best shots of the tournament so far. One was a backspin drop shot off a return which landed on his side of the court, and a diving volley winner after he slipped on the court.
There is no doubting Brown’s work ethic. Right now is not the time for him to savor the Nadal victory.
“When I’m in Jamaica at the end of the year, then I can have a Red Stripe and say, ‘great year, Dustin. You played great.’ There’s no time for that right now,” he said.