Area high school tennis players can finally breathe that sigh of relief.
The most dominant athlete in the sport over the course of the last four years has graduated.
Harrison Richmond, Waccamaw’s No. 1 singles player and The Sun News Toast of the Coast Boys Tennis Player of the Year, capped off his impressive high school career by going undefeated yet again. He’s off to the University of Virginia, and many of his regular opponents are glad to hear it.
“I heard it a couple times,” Richmond said. “I take pride in that reputation of winning. That’s why I work so hard.”
Richmond, who has spent four to five hours a day playing for the majority of his time in high school, has won practically every award he could at Waccamaw. In addition to three Toast of the Coast honors, he was also named to the high-school All-American squad and the South Carolina All-State team and earned a spot on the U.S. Davis Cup roster.
He never lost a match in South Carolina, including this season, when he was 11-0 in singles matches and 11-0 in doubles matches. Richmond, though, capped it all off by doing something he’d never done before.
Playing – and winning – the Class AA/A state individual tournament.
In prior years, USTA events around the country prevented him from accepting his bid. This year, he made it a priority.
“That was important, to him and to me,” Waccamaw coach James Brown said. “All of the other guys who went on to play Division I, they had all played. This year, he was in much more control of his schedule. He needed to do that. It worked out like we thought it would.
“It put an official ending to his high school career in a special way.”
It was, as Brown said, only further proof of the type of player Richmond was. The coach and player knew early on that he would win 99 percent of his matches simply by showing up. Opposing coaches and players knew it, too.
But winning wasn’t enough.
Richmond was setting himself up for that scholarship to Virginia and possibly even a professional career down the road. He continued that stringent training schedule despite the normal distractions associated with being a teenager.
“Usually, tennis players, when they get the gas and the gals – they have some freedom – they tend to balance out in their training,” Brown said. “When he was at that age, I said ‘Can he achieve this goal? Will he reach higher?’ He kept his foot on the gas.
“You never had to worry about what he was doing or where he was going. He was all in.”
Thankfully for the Warriors, that decision included Waccamaw. There was talk in the past of Richmond homeschooling in order to provide flexibility to his tennis training. However, that discussion faded, and earlier this month, he graduated from the high school.
“I liked representing my school and I wanted to win one more state championship,” he said. “It was definitely something I thought about. But it was a good decision. You don’t get any of these times back. It’s one of those things you have to enjoy.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com