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Wallace State tennis teams begin new era in program history

HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State tennis is back.

Wallace State's women's team hosts Snead State in a conference match on Saturday at 1 p.m., marking the first spring matches on campus since 2004.

The first combined home match for the women and men is Friday, Feb. 10, at 11 a.m. vs. Meridian Community College.

"I can't wait for 1 p.m. on Saturday to get here. We've practiced and practiced some more and played each other. We need some competition to see how much we have improved since the fall and to see what we need to do to get better," said Wallace State tennis coach Tony Franklin. "This season should be a lot of fun. Our goal is to be at our best during the conference tournament in April."

The Wallace State women join Snead State, Central Alabama, Faulkner State and Marion Military Institute as colleges within the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) to field a women's tennis team.

Wallace State's men join Faulkner State, Gadsden State and Marion Military Institute within the conference.

Members of the women's team are Emily Graves (Cullman High), Tempie Ennis (Hillcrest), Nicki Rakestraw (Cullman), Kelsi Wilson (Hillcrest), Molly Whitlock (Saraland) and Anna Trevarthan (Cullman).

"Our women's team has been working hard and they are very coachable and receptive to things. It takes time and a different mindset to adjust from the high school to the college game," Franklin said. "The women are going to battle from the first point to the last, whether they are winning or losing. They are always determined to get better, and that's one thing I love about them."

Members of men's tennis team are Cade Pressnell (Austin High), Luke Bowden (Cullman), Clint Watson (Cullman), Donnie Camp (Cullman), Hunter Manley (Cullman), Check Freeman (Cullman), Damon Calvert (West Point), Toddric Stallworth (Albertville) and Alex Carter (Arab).

"Our men are very competitive and came to Wallace State with great credentials in high school. It's a talented group, and they also work hard to get better. Our main focus with the men is establishing the right combination with our doubles team," Franklin said. "Our men have a chance to be very good."

The men's first conference home match is Feb. 25 vs. Gadsden State.

Wallace State tennis was previously a national title contender. Before the 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 joined the Wallace State coaching family last May after spending 26 seasons as the head coach at Benjamin Russell.

"Wallace State is a great place to be. Everyone has been so helpful ever since I came on board," Franklin said.