HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College is reintroducing its men’s and women’s tennis programs beginning with the 2016 fall season, Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics has announced.
Before the tennis programs were discontinued in 2004, they accounted for four of the seven NJCAA national titles earned by Wallace State athletics. The men’s program won NJCAA Division II titles in 1995 and 1996 and the women in 1995 and 1999.
Beginning in August, the teams will once again compete during both the fall and spring seasons.
“Wallace State is proud to initiate our men's and women's tennis program. Tennis is a lifelong sport, and we want to provide opportunities for promising athletes to pursue their educational goals while also competing in a nationally acclaimed program. I look forward to recruiting outstanding talent and earning another national title,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.
Cullman’s Paul Creech, a member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), has been on board at Wallace State since September, serving as the college’s tennis recruiter.
“I’m excited to contribute to this wonderful athletics program in any way possible. I love the athletics tradition at Wallace State,” said Creech, whose son Will played tennis at Wallace State before it was discontinued. “This tennis program is going to provide chances for high school athletes to play collegiate tennis who otherwise might not have had an opportunity.”
Creech, a Georgia native, earned a football scholarship to Wofford (S.C.) College before picking up his love for tennis.
Wallace State will offer six scholarships apiece for the both the men’s and women’s programs.
Wallace State men’s and women’s tennis previously established a strong tradition, both locally and nationally. Both programs captured multiple conference championships in addition to the national titles the teams conquered.
“I’m proud of the winning tradition our tennis programs were recognized for, and I’m excited to see them compete again for conference and national championships,” said Wallace State Athletics Director Paul Bailey. “It’s another step in the right direction for our athletics program and for the college.”
Wallace State Vice President Dr. Tomesa Smith added that it’s important for Wallace State to incorporate tennis into its athletics offerings because it’s a sport individuals stick with throughout their entire lives.
Later this week, Clint Watson, a former individual singles state champion at Cullman High, is set to become the first recruit to sign a letter of intent with the men’s program. Watson is a current Wallace State student.
As Creech continues to search for high school prospects for the program, he sees inquiries about Wallace State tennis gradually increasing.
“This college sells itself. I’ve had people asking for my card once they realize I’m with Wallace State,” Creech said. “There’s a lot of good tennis being played in Cullman, Arab, Hartselle and Decatur, and all of that is within a 55-mile radius. We hope to cash in on those players who want the opportunity to continue their athletic careers at Wallace State.”
Within the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC), Wallace State’s men’s team will compete against Gadsden State and Marion Military Institute. ACCC women’s tennis programs will consist of Wallace State, Snead State, Faulkner State and Marion Military Institute.
In addition to the national titles earned by the tennis programs, Wallace State softball has won two under coach Jayne Clem (2008, 2013) and the men’s track and field team won the 1997 crown.
With the addition of men’s and women’s tennis, Wallace State will offer 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 debuted women’s golf to its athletics slate last fall.