Competing at state is the dream of every high school athlete. Accomplishing that goal in your senior season is thrilling but often bittersweet, as it marks the end of a high school career. For Carroll senior tennis players Kelley Anderson, Eshan Dave, Collin Alexander and Jack Learmonth, their final seasons ended last week in Austin, at the UIL state tennis tournament.
“All four of them are extremely hard workers,” said head coach Corey Aldridge. “They all practice in the mornings before school and then in the evenings as well. They have put in a lot of hard work over the years.”
Anderson placed third in girls singles in her fourth state appearance, and will continue her tennis career at Baylor University next year. For her, the hard work has certainly paid off.
“I feel pretty accomplished and it has been a fun four years,” she said. “I expected myself to go to state all four years and I am glad that God gave me the opportunity to stay healthy and make it that far.”
“It is really exciting to see Kelley go on and play at a high level,” Aldridge said.
All four of the seniors have been on varsity their entire high school careers and offer a lot of experience and leadership that will be missed next year.
“Between the four of them they have attained 10 state tournament appearances and not a lot of programs across the state can say that,” Aldridge said. “We are definitely going to miss these guys next year, their presence, their playing and their leadership.”
Dave, a second-time state qualifier, took third in boys singles, and credits his work ethic for his success.
“I have a lot of mental toughness and I don’t give up,” he said. “This was one of the best things I have done in tennis and it was a great way to finish my years at Carroll.”
“Eshan is cool, calm and collected,” Aldridge said. “He is pretty quiet and reserved but he is also extremely intelligent.”
The boys doubles duo of Learmont and Alexander fought hard but lost in the quarterfinals.
“Collin is extremely tall, at 6-5, and has a huge first serve which has really helped his service game,” Aldridge said. “Jack is a hard worker and a really good kid overall.”
The two have played together all year and their friendship is evident in their performance.
“Going to state my senior year was a little emotional, especially since I was playing with someone I’ve played with for such a long time,” Alexander said. “We have a good relationship on the court and a better one off of the court. Being such good friends really helped us succeed.”
Alexander made his third state appearance, but it was Learmont’s first trip.
“It was really special because I decided I wasn’t going to play in college, so it was my last go at it and it was good to go out on top,” he said.
When discussing the team’s achievements, Aldridge was quick to credit the dedication of his assistant coach, Brenna Athens.
“She is a tremendous help every year and we wouldn’t have had the success we have had without her,” he said. “She has played and worked at such a high level. She complements the team very well.”
That leadership will come in handy as the seniors graduate and leave a team full of underclassmen.
Anderson summed up the sentiments of all four seniors as she shared what she wished someone had told her four years ago.
“You should work hard because no matter what level you are, everyone has a chance,” she said. “And don’t forget to enjoy it. These four years go by really fast and they will be over before you know it.”