Catherine White's been playing No. 1 singles for Rock Hill for so long she's gone from hunter to the hunted.
Nation Ford's Danny Randar's overcoming a late start to become one of the state's top players.
And Matt Rohring is working to help Nation Ford bridge the gap from new school to state power in tennis.
For their exploits, they've been named The Herald's All-Area girls and boys tennis players of the year, and coach of the year, respectively.
White has been Rock Hill's top player since her seventh grade year. Now going into her junior season, she has all-state honors under her belt as she advances on even greater goals.
"Coming in as a seventh-grader playing high school tennis was just super-intimidating," White said. "But as the years went by, things have gotten more and more comfortable. I recruited some friends to play on the team with me, and now it's to the point where all my friends are here playing as well. But those first two years were tough. I got crushed, coming in, losing some matches badly.
"But things are going much better now."
White has improved her USTA state ranking to 13th, and she's hoping to use her next two years of high school tennis to help obtain a college scholarship.
Randar's going into his senior year with just four years of tennis experience, but has risen quickly. He was an all-region choice for Nation Ford this year.
He credits his personal coach Billy McKinney as well as Rohring for his development after years of not realizing tennis was an option.
"I played a lot of basketball and ran cross country, but I never thought of playing until eighth grade," Radnar said. "In other sports, coaches can decide who plays for a lot of reason, but the thing I like about tennis is that everything is on the kid. It's up to you to succeed or not."
Radnar's broken into the top 50 of the state rankings and is developing quickly, according to Rohring.
"Danny is going to go down as one of the best players to ever put on a Nation Ford uniform," his high school coach said. "He has only been playing tennis for about four years and he is competitive with some of the best players in the state. His work ethic with his instructor Billy McKinney and at practice with myself and his teammates sets an example for everyone to follow.
"He is a tremendous asset to our team and just a really great young man. I'm very proud of how far he has come. Next year, he will be even better, which is going to be bad news for his opponents."
Of course, he had some help along the way, as Nation Ford went through the Region 4-AAA season undefeated
"I'm most proud of our perseverance throughout the season," Rohring said. "Both our girls and boys teams are basically stuck in the middle, talent wise between teams in our area that don't have very strong tennis programs and the upper tier tennis programs in Charlotte. It was very tough for the teams to stay focused despite losing several matches to some top private schools like Charlotte Country Day, Providence Day, and Christ Church (from Greenville). I think those matches will help us in the long run as we are well aware of how much more work we need to do to win a state championship next year and get to that upper tier of tennis programs.
"Our work ethic and leadership separated this team from previous years. It was amazing to see how hard all of our players worked during the off season. I gave each player an off season workout plan and the results were evident as both our boys and girls improved a tremendous amount."
Darin Gantt 326-4312