Whitwell named to All-State tennis team
By Mallory Graves
Jacob Whitwell craves success and always sets high expectations for himself, especially on the courts. He was the only senior to receive the 2020 5A All State title on the Ardmore High School tennis team.
“It was an amazing feeling, being the first Ardmore tennis All-Stater in the past seven years,” Whitwell said. “It sucked not being able to play just one more time for my family, however. It was a true honor to get that award and it felt good to make my coach proud.”
“It is a huge deal. I was excited for him. I was showing Whitwell the list of All-Staters and he mentioned that there were not very many people on the list," Nathan Roberts, Ardmore tennis coach said. "I told him that there was only a few that were selected for this kind of deal and that it was important. The private schools are dominating 5A tennis right now and so in turn, they are taking up the majority of the All-State spots too. So, it was significant that an athlete from a public school got it.”
With tennis being a spring sport, Whitwell didn’t get the opportunity to finish out his senior year.
“COVID-19 has changed my last year in high school a lot,” Whitwell said. “I never got my last year to play in anymore tennis tournaments, which was sad. During my senior year, I played in two tournaments and seven matches. I also got third in the first 16-team tournament and second in the 12-team one. Just finishing high school in general with having to do online classes didn’t really help with anything. The biggest thing it really affected, was how I didn’t get one more shot in the state tennis tournament. That was a bummer.”
The Ardmore tennis team started out the season strong, and Roberts wished that they could have finished it out.
“The whole thing was weird, obviously, because we didn’t even get to have a season this year,” Roberts said. “It happened so fast, we didn’t know this was all going to happen. We went to a couple of tournaments, and it was just starting to look a little weird right before spring break, and then we never came back. At least some good came out of it, such as Whitwell earning his All-State nod. We had a really good kickoff to the year, we got to play in two tournaments, and I think that is the main reason why he got to be selected. Him and his partner beat a Duncan team, which ended up being All-Staters as well, so I had high hopes for this season.”
Roberts explains how proud he is of Whitwell and his accomplishments.
“I’ve coached tennis for about 14 years now, and I’ve coached kids at my previous school that ended up being All-Staters, but I only coached them when they were freshman,” Roberts said. “Whitwell is my first actual All-Stater as a coach, so it was pretty exciting for both of us. I have more insight of how big of a deal it really is now, because of this experience.”
Whitwell has played tennis since the beginning of high school. He didn’t expect to like it as much as he did, but he is glad to be able to play the sport he loves.
“I have always played sports, but I couldn’t find the one that I just loved,” Whitwell said. “I ended up trying it out my freshman year, and I really enjoyed it. The reason why I feel like I loved the sport, is because it is more of an independent sport. You don’t have to rely on a whole team, just you and your partner.”
A good coach is the determining factor of success in their athletes. Whitwell is thankful for Roberts and all he has done to help him.
“I’m glad that Coach Nathan Roberts gave me a chance my freshman year. He was always there for us when we were frustrated in a match or was having a bad day. I’m grateful for all of the time and energy he spent coaching us.”