ELKIN - For a decade in the late 90s and early 2000s, Elkin was a perennial tennis powerhouse.
The Buckin’ Elks captured seven team state championships during a nine-year span, with their final title coming in 2004 in a four-peat.
After several years of mediocrity, Elkin has once again returned to its championship form. And, according to head coach and athletic director Tony Duncan, senior Tyler Macy has played a major role in the revitalization of the program.
“Elkin has a long tradition of tennis. But there were a couple years there where we struggled. When Tyler came along, he really set the program back to where it needed to be,” Duncan explained. “He was instrumental in getting the program restarted. Conference championships are great but your ultimate goal is to win a state championship. And he’s put us in the right track to do that.”
Led by Macy at the No. 1 slot, the Elks have advanced past the first round of the state playoffs each of the past two seasons and have their sights set on a team title next month.
Individually, Macy has been a staple at the state championships since his first season. After runner-up finishes as a freshman and a sophomore, Macy finally captured glory last year, winning the 1A title. The championship ended a 14-year drought for the school.
But before prepping for another deep postseason run, the senior secured his future in tennis. Macy inked his official national letter of intent to play for Division I Gardner-Webb next season in a signing ceremony at Elkin last Wednesday.
“It has always been my goal to be a college Division I tennis player, and now that I have achieved it, it shows that all of my hard work paid off,” he explained. “It feels good. I’ve been working really hard, so it feels good to finally be able to sign.”
After briefly considering other schools, Macy said Gardner-Webb was the “top choice.”
“Gardner-Webb was the best opportunity I had to play Division I. They gave me some money and it felt right. I also liked the team, so I thought it was a good choice,” he explained. “I didn’t really get any offers from other schools that I wanted to go to. Gardner-Webb was the top choice.
“I hope to work hard over the summer and hopefully get to play right off in my freshman year.”
Before seeing his senior leader head off down the road to Boiling Springs, Duncan looked back to Macy’s four-year high school career.
“He’s been a great player for us for four years and that is evident in his accomplishments,” he said. “He’s been a great team leader and he will be tremendously missed. You just don’t come across players like this very often.
“He has a lot of tennis ahead of him and he is still in the prime of his career. I look forward to seeing what he can accomplish down there at Gardner-Webb. And if he works as hard as he does now, he’ll fly high and he’ll be a player there,” Duncan added.
With the playoffs looming in the next couple weeks, Macy said he’s ready to power the Elks to a state title.
“I think we have a pretty good chance of winning. Our team looks good this year,” he said. “I’m going to be playing doubles this year [in the playoffs] with Ryan Schell. He’s a great teammates and we play pretty well together. We move with each other pretty well and cover each other.”
Macy, Schell and the Elks’ postseason run begins this week with the Mountain Valley Conference tournament.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.