Taylor Smith signs with Hinds Community College
Published 8:04 pm Monday, June 25, 2018
Taylor Smith came to tennis late in her athletic life, and it’s never been much more than a hobby sport for her. Soccer and volleyball are her favorites.
She’s never played tennis for more than her high school team at Warren Central.
Now, however, tennis is how she’s paying her way through college.
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Smith has signed to play at Hinds Community College, becoming the rare athlete to earn a college scholarship as relative part-timer to her sport.
“I’ve been thinking about going to Hinds because I’m not sure what I wanted to do yet, so it’s a good place to start,” said Smith, who was also being recruited by Meridian Community College. “It feels good to be thought of like that. I’m excited to experience it and make new friends. I think it can be a good learning experience.”
Although tennis is not her primary sport, Smith is hardly without talent.
She and her sister Laney reached the MHSAA Class 6A state tournament twice in girls’ doubles and won the Division 4-6A championship this year.
Taylor Smith, however, did not start playing until her sophomore season. She went out at the urging of former Warren Central coach Jeff Pilgrim, who thought her athletic ability would translate to tennis.
“Me and my sister were surprised how good we are. I guess it just came kind of natural,” Smith said. “I guess it’s a reaction sport, with quick reactions at the net. That’s what me and my sister are good at and what made us stand out.”
After last season, when the sister pair made it to the state tournament for the first time, Taylor said she started to get interest from college coaches and thought seriously about playing at the next level.
“Probably at the end of my junior year, my coaches talked to me about playing and told me I could definitely play at a junior college. It made me realize that’s what I wanted to do,” Smith said.
Now she’ll head off to Raymond and try to improve her game while also helping Hinds. It’s a big step up in competition, but one she’s eager to tackle.
“It’s a big leap, because I only started playing tennis in 10th grade so I think I’ll learn a lot from it. I’ve only had one or two coaches. I think she’ll have a lot to teach me,” Smith said.