All-Calhoun County tennis: Faith Christian star shines in yet another sport
by Brandon Miller
bmiller@annistonstar.com
Jul 26, 2013 | 4039 views |  0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stephen Emerson played the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles, posting identical 8-2 records in both spots. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
Stephen Emerson played the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles, posting identical 8-2 records in both spots. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
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ANNISTON -- Stephen Emerson uses the term “difficult” quite a bit to describe his senior year of athletics at Faith Christian.

But considering Emerson made all-Calhoun County teams in basketball and soccer and now being named The Anniston Star’s county boys tennis player of the year, he didn’t have much difficulty while competing.

What made his time difficult was finding time to play two sports in the spring, which couldn’t have had more conflict in scheduling.

“It’s really difficult because you miss practices for both and it’s hard to build up a team, especially for soccer since it’s such a team sport,” he said. “It kind of hurt, but coming from such a small school if you’re athletic at all, you have to play multiple sports. My parents helped me a lot throughout the whole year.”

The difficulties came with spending six days a week at times practicing and competing in soccer or tennis. There was also the obvious need to keep his studies up to date as well.

“He obviously knows how to manage his time well. It’s not easy to play two sports at one time,” Faith Christian tennis coach Jay Walker said. “Usually, he tried to avoid conflicts as far as competition, but he literally wouldn’t practice tennis except for on his own time over the weekends or he’d miss a lot of soccer practices when he had tennis matches. He was essentially showing up on game day in both sports and excelling.”

This was Emerson’s second straight season playing tennis, after taking a two-year break from the court to focus on soccer. He played the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles. He went 8-2 in singles and matched that in doubles. He won both spots at the Red Wilder Invitational, which is the unofficial county tournament.

The move to the top spot came a year after he played No. 2, while his brother Stuart held the No. 1 position.

Over the spring, Emerson felt the pressure after taking over the heaviest competition load not too long after not playing competitively for two years.

“There was definitely more pressure because you’re playing against the other team’s best guy, and you have to be able to compete,” Emerson said. “There’s a lot of dropoff between the first and second guy. I just tried to get mentally ready to play the best guy.”

Yet, the senior went undefeated against competition from Calhoun County because of having good hand-eye coordination and fluid movements. Walker attributes Emerson’s talents to his mother, who Walker says is a great player herself.

“He’s very competitive in a quiet way, but he’s very talented,” Walker said. “He can do anything athletically that he wants to try. I’ve been snow skiing with him, and there’s no fear there, either.”

Despite Emerson’s success on whichever playing surface he chooses, he’s also put in work in the classroom, earning himself a full scholarship to the University of Alabama. He said he’s playing on majoring in engineering, but may switch to pre-medicine and later attend medical school.

Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at

256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.
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