Price returns to court for HHS
HUNTINGTON -- Braddick Price needed a sport to play during the spring of her senior season at Huntington High.
Price wrapped up a successful four-year soccer career in the fall, making first-team Class AAA All-State and earning a scholarship to Gardner-Webb. Price opted to make the comeback in tennis. She last played in eighth grade at Our Lady of Fatima Parish School.
The transition for Price has been rather smooth. She's No. 1 seed at No. 4 singles in the West Virginia Class AAA Region IV, Section 4 Tournament and won her quarterfinal match Thursday at Ritter Park Tennis Center. She and partner Cassie Mercer are No. 1 seed in doubles and won that quarterfinal match as well. Both wins came by 8-0 margins.
Two wins Friday and Price and Mercer are headed to the state tournament in singles and doubles. The tournament is scheduled next Thursday through Saturday in Charleston.
In team standings, defending state champion Huntington and Hurricane are tied for first with 14 points. Cabell Midland has 13.
For the boys, the Highlanders, who are seeking to repeat at the state as well, share first with Cabell Midland. Each has 14 points. Logan follows with 12. Play resumes Friday at 9 a.m.
"It's easier now," said Price, who got reacquainted with tennis in off-season practice/clinics and then started the campaign in a match in Louisville. "I'm still shaky at times. I just have to keep my head in it."
For the past three springs, Price devoted time to travel soccer with the West Virginia Soccer Club where she's a defender. She's cut back on travel soccer and Huntington High needing a couple of players to help out prompted her to say yes to a return. Price said conflicts between soccer and tennis have been minimal.
"I didn't plan to play," Price said. "Two seniors (from 2012) were gone and they asked if I would play. I said OK. I needed training wheels a little bit. I picked things up pretty quickly. It didn't take as long as I thought it would. My thoughts ... do my best, play as hard as I can and it'll be all right."
At No. 4 singles, only the regional champion qualifies for state. Price knows that means no room for error.
"I like pressure," she said. "I play better."
Price admits it's a blessing to have Mercer as a doubles partner. In middle school, Mercer won decisively when she and Price met.
"She makes me more confident," Price said. "Teams pick on me (hitting away from Mercer). I've had to work on my volleys."
Highlanders coach Joanie Poole said Price has made great strides from that first match.
"The skill set's there, she had to learn how to handle matches," Poole said. "She's progressed so much, over 100 percent since Louisville."
Poole said Price knowing she must win at No. 4 to make it to Charleston is perfect motivation.
"She's a pressure player," Poole said. "She's an excellent athlete, you can tell."
Huntington High's Hunter Tubert, defending state champion in singles and doubles, won by 8-0 counts in both divisions Thursday. Campbell Neighborgall is the sophomore's doubles partner this season. Robert Skolik was his partner a year ago.