*Reprinted with permission from The Cullman Times
By Rob Ketcham
Cullman Times Sports Editor
The local flavor just keeps pouring on as Wallace State inches closer to restarting its tennis programs this fall.
Cullman seniors Donny Camp and Emily Graves were the area’s latest to sign with the Lions, splashing ink on national letters of intent as family, friends, teammates, coaches and administrators proudly watched on Wednesday morning in the high school library.
The duo joins former Bearcat Clint Watson and West Point alum Damon Calvert as locals already on Wallace State’s tennis rosters for the junior college’s first foray into tennis since 2004.
Camp has yet to drop a match this spring as Cullman’s No. 1. That goes for singles and doubles, where he’s partnered with Connor Borresen.
Tennis season is entering the home stretch, with section tournaments set for mid-April and the state tourney slated for the following week.
Camp’s singular goal is to wrap up his high school career with a state championship.
“I think I have what it takes,” he said. “I want to go out as strong as possible and not take this scholarship and just be like, ‘Well, I don’t even care anymore. I actually want to win state.”
Like Camp, Graves touts undefeated records in the No. 5 singles slot and No. 3 doubles position with Emily Mullins.
Graves is the Lady Lions’ first official signee.
“I can’t wait to be a part of the Wallace State tennis team,” she said. “It’s very exciting, and it means a lot to be the first one. I like that it was close to home and I didn’t have to travel very far. And my friends and family can come watch me play whenever.”
Cullman coach Jerry Mason said Camp, a Springville transfer, has “all the tools” — a serve well over 100 miles per hour and forehand and backhand strokes that pop — to carry his success to the next level.
“Donny will do anything I ask him to do,” Mason said. “He’s going to be an excellent college player.”
As for Camp’s signature squint, which his teammates poked a little fun at during picture time at the signing table?
Mason’s summation of Graves boiled down to the senior being one tough cookie.
“With Emily, she’s like a little bulldog. She won’t let go,” he said. “She’ll work you to death. And she loves to go to the net, which is unusual for a lot of high school girls. But Emily, she likes the net and she’s very aggressive in that respect. She’s going to be a good player for Wallace.”
Wallace State tennis recruiter Paul Creech is inclined to agree. He hustled and bustled around the library talking up the Lions’ latest tennis venture to anyone willing to listen.
Based on the local talent he’s already corralled, the enthusiasm Creech constantly expresses is clearly catching on.
“Just to watch the parents’ faces and the kids and all these other kids seeing this, it’s pretty cool,” he said. “I’m just blessed to be part of it.”