A big thank you to The State for helping us share South Carolina’s tennis news. As the newspaper does once a month, today, The State ran our monthly tennis column. The full text of the column is below. Have an idea for a future tennis column in The State? Click here.
Special to The State
A team comprised of some of the area’s best high school tennis players will play for a USTA national championship in Lexington County this fall.
The Lexington Legends won their division of the USTA Jr. Team Tennis Southern Sectional Championships this past weekend, qualifying them for the national championships.
The team, which features players from Lexington, Chapin, Irmo, West Columbia and Sumter, advanced past five Southern teams to win the sectional championships.
In winning the Southern title, the Lexington team also got revenge.
At last year’s Southern championships, the South Carolina team finished second to a team from Georgia. This year, the Georgia team, with almost all of the same players as they had a year ago, finished second to the South Carolina team.
“To be able to make up for that this year was really good,” said Thomas Bryan, a member of the Legends and a junior at Lexington High School.
Every player on the team but one plays in the No. 1 or No. 2 singles spot on their high school tennis teams. The only exception, Mark Carnes, is home schooled and doesn’t currently play on a high school team.
“They’re an easy group to coach,” said Eric Jackson.
Last year, Karen Holzschuh of the Lexington Area Tennis Association asked Jackson to get together an area USTA Jr. Team Tennis squad.
Jackson, who coaches the Lexington High boys and girls tennis teams, already knew most of the area’s top players. He persuaded many of them to join his team.
The group advanced to the sectional championships by winning their division of the USTA South Carolina JTT State Championships, held last month in Florence.
For Jackson, coaching the team has been fun and unusual.
He hits with the players on the court and jokes around with them.
It’s been different because he’s now encouraging the players he typically coaches against during the high school seasons.
“It’s weird, but it ended up being pretty cool,” he said. “This area just has a whole lot of really good tennis talent, and a whole lot of support from the tennis community.”
The USTA Jr. Team Tennis 18 and Under National Championships are scheduled for Oct. 23-26 and will be played at two Lexington County facilities: the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center and the Lexington County Tennis Complex.
Both sites are familiar territory to the players, said Katie Thompson, a Legends team member and a junior at Lexington High.
She and a few of her Legends teammates grew up playing at LCTC and still play there occasionally. Now they’re eager to win a national championship there as well.
The Lexington Legends team that will play at the USTA Jr. Team Tennis 18 and Under National Championships:
Abby Cooper, Irmo High
Amy Lance, Lexington High
Jerry Price, Airport High
Katie Thompson, Lexington High
Lauren Joch, Dutch Fork High
Logan Adkins, Lexington High
Mark Carnes, home schooled, Sumter
Samantha Calais, Dutch Fork High
Savanna Fuller, Chapin High
Thomas Bryan, Lexington High
The Legends after their first-place finish last weekend.