HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Tony Franklin, a long-time high school tennis coach in Alabama, has been named Wallace State’s new men’s and women’s tennis coach as the college prepares to field men’s and women’s tennis this fall for the first time since 2004.
Franklin will lead the Wallace State tennis programs after spending 26 seasons as tennis coach at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City, where he coached both the boys’ and girls’ programs throughout his career.
“I’m honored, excited and very fortunate to have this opportunity. I’ve wanted to coach at this level for a long time,” said Franklin, who has also served as a tennis pro at Willow Point Country Club in Alex City for the last eight years. “I know how successful the Wallace State tennis programs once were, and it’s going to be our goal to get back to that spot.”
Before the tennis programs were discontinued in 2004, they accounted for four of the seven NJCAA national titles earned by Wallace State athletics and won multiple conference championships. The men’s program won NJCAA Division II titles in 1995 and 1996 and the women in 1995 and 1999.
Franklin, 55, has been around the game his entire life. He played tennis at Sulligent High School and played collegiately at the former Brewer State College (now Bevill State) in Fayette and Huntingdon College in Montgomery. He earned his master’s degree at Auburn University – Montgomery.
While Franklin was coaching tennis at Benjamin Russell, he served as a sixth grade teacher at Radney Elementary School in Alex City.
As a tennis pro and enthusiast, Franklin watched Central Alabama Community College develop its tennis programs in Alex City and it increased his desire even more into potentially leading a collegiate program one day.
“When I interviewed, I thanked Wallace State for bringing tennis back, whether I got the job or not. It gives high school athletes an opportunity to play they might not otherwise have, and it’s a sport they can continue all their lives,” Franklin said.
Wallace State athletics began to lay the foundation last fall of reintroducing its tennis programs, and Paul Creech, a member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), served as the college’s tennis recruiter until Franklin’s appointment.
Clint Watson, already a Wallace State student and a Cullman graduate, was the first individual to sign a letter of intent to play tennis for the Lions during the new era and many talented players have followed. Franklin welcomed Cullman’s Jacob Lambert on Wednesday after recently having Lakken Long (Muscle Shoals) and Luke Bowden (Cullman) sign letter of intents.
Wallace State offers six scholarships apiece for the men’s and women’s programs.
“Paul Creech did a lot of recruiting before I came on board and did a great job. He signed some great tennis players and even better kids. I can’t say enough about the job Paul did,” Franklin said. “As a former high school coach, I’ve seen a lot of our new team members play. I’m familiar with their potential because they gave my team problems in high school. So I’m excited about our first season.”
One of Franklin’s favorite aspects about tennis is the life lessons it teaches you throughout the course of a match.
“Tennis is a match full of problem solving. That’s what life is. You go to work every day and have to solve problems,” Franklin said. “I like to instill mental toughness in my players. When things don’t go well in a match, you can’t pout and get mad. You have to think about what your opponent is doing, what you are doing and how you can change things to be successful.”
With the addition of men’s and women’s tennis, Wallace State now offers scholarships to potential athletes in 10 different sports, joining baseball, softball, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf and cheerleading.
“Wallace State is such a great environment, and the athletics department is dedicated to winning. I knew about the success at Wallace State, and once I dug deeper into the program, I knew I wanted to be a part of this place,” Franklin said.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit http://athletics.wallacestate.edu/
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu