Six Aggies tennis players sign scholarships

Six Aggies tennis players sign scholarships

By TAYLOR D. BECK The Reporter

ALBERTVILLE — Surrounded by family, friends, coaches and teammates, six senior Aggies tennis players recently signed to continue their careers at the collegiate level.

From the Albertville varsity boys squad, Sam Barclift, Alex Smith and Griffin Nixon each signed scholarships to play for Bevill State Community College. And from the varsity girls team, Katy Morrison, Kailyn Boman and Emma Greer each signed with Snead State Community College.

“I have been around Aggie tennis a long time and have never known of six at once,” varsity girls tennis head coach Greg Henderson said

Albertville varsity boys head tennis coach Jordan Younghouse said the trio of boys would be extremely hard to replace.

“They’re the best of friends, and they’ve all been playing since they were in sixth grade,” he said. “They’ve been playing at the varsity level since seventh grade.”

The Aggies varsity boys captured their fifth straight Marshall County Championship this season. But perhaps even more astonishing: Barclift, Smith and Nixon finished their high school careers having never lost a county match, Younghouse said.

“Bevill State is getting three great guys, as well as three great families who are all friends, and they will change the culture there at Bevill,” Younghouse said.

“As seniors they did a great job of leading our team this season, especially lifting up and encouraging our younger kids. We had a lot of eighth and ninth graders on the team this year, and those three did nothing but support them and make them feel welcome.”

“It’s been fun to watch those three grow,” Henderson said, who has spent time coaching the boys in the past. “They are an extremely talented group of guys who hit the ball so hard. Pace and speed at the 7A level is so different, but they’ve done a great job of developing and have become outstanding players.”

The varsity boys team finished just eight points shy of second place at sectionals, which would have qualified them for the 7A State Tournament.

Barclift and Nixon each finished runners-up in their respective singles brackets. Smith and partner Nathan Stuart finished runners-up in the No. 2 doubles finals.

As for the three girls who signed with Snead State, Henderson spoke at length to each one’s potential moving forward.

“For all three of these girls’ their best tennis is ahead of them,” he said.

Henderson said Morrison was the most experienced. She’s been in the Aggies tennis program since eighth grade and “she’s gotten better every year.”

“This season, she was our No. 3 in singles and No. 3 in doubles, and it was probably her best year,” he said. “She’s a lefty and that sometimes gives her an advantage because you don’t see lefties very often. But she’s got a great forehand that can overpower opponents at times.”

Boman and Greer didn’t start playing tennis until Henderson encouraged them to give it a shot as juniors. But they picked up the game rather quickly, Henderson said.

During the 2023 season, the pair played as the team’s No. 3 in doubles and had great success. But, neither played in a singles match.

This season, as a senior, Boman was No. 5 in singles and No. 2 in doubles. She and partner Hannah Mastin finished runners-up in the Class 7A, Section 4, doubles finals.

“She played really well and won most of her matches,” Henderson said.

An injury during her basketball season sidelined Greer from taking to the tennis court in 2024.

“We had high hopes for Emma coming into this season, but she tore her ACL in December playing basketball,” Henderson said.

“Emma had opportunities to probably play either basketball or volleyball at the collegiate level, but she has kind of fallen in love with tennis and decided to pursue that instead.”

Henderson said Snead State Coach Matt Holaday’s decision to offer a scholarship to Greer was “gutsy” since she has yet to play a singles match in her brief career.

“But I told him, you’ll be glad you’ve got her,” Henderson said. “She’s doing a great job of working her way back from injury and continues to improve her game.”

The Lady Aggies fell just shy of winning back-to-back Marshall County titles in April. Albertville finished with 52 points to Douglas’ 53 points.

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