Randolph, Moorhead Join College Exodus
By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer
Summer vacation is almost over for the college crowd, and most of them will be heading back to school before August ends.
Some will be going for the first time, and that includes a couple of the area’s top prep tennis players.
Abigail Randolph, who played No. 1 singles for Mills Godwin High School her last three years, is going to Methodist University, a Division III school in Fayetteville, N.C., which is a member of the USA South Conference.
On the boys’ side, Brett Moorhead, who won back-to-back state Group AAA singles championships as Cosby High School’s No. 1 player, will be giving the James Madison University lineup in Harrisonburg a big boost.
Both said they have spent part of their summer preparing for the rigors of college tennis.
“I’ve been doing a lot of training and practicing,” said Randolph, who helped the Eagles win two state Group AAA girls titles and finish runner-up twice. One of the state crowns came in June when Godwin beat Colonial District rival Deep Run in the final.
“Weight training and sprint training, just to get ready for the competition because college is a little bit different. I’ve mostly been hitting with friends, just to get some match play and playing in a few tournaments.”
Taking part in such a successful program at Godwin helped prepare Randolph for life after high school.
“I think it got me ready mentally over the years of being there,” she said. “How to deal with winning and losing. Being able to communicate with your teammates. My freshman year I was really shy and didn’t know how to communicate with my teammates.
“Over the years, it got better. Finally, as a senior I could talk to them without any second thoughts.”
Randolph is hoping to wind up somewhere in the top six in singles for Methodist as a freshman and perhaps at No. 1 or 2 doubles.
“I’ve been told by some college girls that the only difference between high school and college girls is the points last a little bit longer,” said Randolph. “You have to set up points. I’ve been working on that this summer.”
Moorhead, who led Cosby into the state team tournament for the first time as a senior, has also been working hard to get ready for college competition. He played in two ITA college events, as well as the McDonald’s Mid-Atlantic Clay Court Championships at Salisbury CC.
“I’ve been working on my fitness a lot and practicing a lot,” said Moorhead. “There’s definitely a lot more stress on your body in college.”
With the Dukes losing six players to graduation, Moorhead has an excellent shot at playing in the top six in singles.
“It’s hard to say what number exactly but I feel like I’ll be in the top six,” he said.
Playing on a strong team at Cosby and capturing those state singles championships gives Moorhead plenty of confidence in making the transition.
“I think the team part of it really helped me,” he said. “Better preparing me for the whole team aspect in college. Cheering for people and helping them get over a loss. The tennis was good, too. Regionals and states were pretty competitive.
“High school tennis is a choice you have to make. but I think everybody should play it because it does prepare you for college tennis.”
Moorhead is looking forward to making the jump from high school to college.
“Just being with a whole new team on a whole new level is exciting,” he said. “Being able to travel and actually playing some of these schools that you watched and rooted for as a kid. Becoming close friends with a bunch of kids and staying with them for four years.”
Moorhead will be rooming with Mason Smith from Virginia Beach, Cape Henry Collegiate’s top player.
Other local players heading off to college for the first time include Mills Godwin’s Brittany Hsieh (Virginia) and Haylee Seidenberg (Radford), Cosby’s Lauren Denuel (South Carolina) and Jamie Cochran (George Mason), Grove Avenue Christian’s Kelly Stewart (Flagler) and Prince George’s Melissa Tomlin (Randolph-Macon), Collegiate's Brady Straus (Virginia) and Midlothian's Jake Gore (Virginia).
Also, Deep Run’s Logan Eldridge (Christopher Newport) and Tory Brown (Fordham), Collegiate’s Connor Brewer (Villanova), Trinity’s Liam Sullivan (Samford), Douglas Freeman’s Trent Singleton (Hampden-Sydney), Armstrong’s Muhammad Gueye (Coppin State), and Varina’s Toni McDonald (Randolph-Macon).
Plenty of others will be returning to their respective schools in the near future:
- Hunter Koontz (Virginia Tech)
- Max Schnur (Columbia)
- Nicole Parker (Longwood)
- Emily Hahn (Princeton)
- Callie Whitlock (Rollins)
- Zack King (Hampden-Sydney)
- Bharani Sankar (Longwood)
- Ashley Milo (Coppin State)
- Tyler Carey (Mary Washington)
- Evan Charles (Mary Washington)
- Mary Taylor Tepper (Sewanee)
- Ashley Price (Mary Washington)
- Michael Holt (Washington and Lee)
- Christine Abbott (Virginia)
- Angelina Sportelli (Randolph-Macon)
- Alise Witt (Randolph-Macon)