Nine–year–old holds number one rank in the nation
By Ellen Fortson
It was a big win in Texas for Hayley Carter, daughter of Steve and Sandy Carter. It placed the nine–year–old tennis player from Parklane Tennis Center as the number one ranked tennis player in America in her age division. Carter swung her way to success in the 7th Annual Little Mo Nationals tournament held in Austin, Texas. The Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation is the only national tournament for boys and girls eight, nine, ten and 11. It is the culmination of the yearlong road to the Little Mo National circuit.
Carter retains her youngest and brightest star image here in Columbia by working hard on her game, strategies, and collecting support from her family, friends, and tennis coaches. “I remember when Carter first came out for summer camp,” Parklane director Bob Jones said. “I told Bernie and Dickie Anderson to take a look at this kid with her racket. She took to tennis like love at first sight.”
Dickie Anderson taught Carter all the basics, plus more. Dickie taught Carter how to win. Carter liked the strategies of tennis so much, she used to sketch her game plan, calling it “strategy on the pot.”
“I used this strategy to beat Alyssa Holbrooks in a tournament. It worked. Now Alyssa is my doubles partner. We work together as a team. She set me up at the net for an overhead that won the tournament. She’s an awesome player,” said Carter.
Carter’s swing has now shifted from Dickie’s domain of fundamentals to Bernie McGuire’s expertise. “I just took over from Dickie,” McGuire said. “Carter is such a pleasure to coach. I’ve been working with her for about a year. She continues to be a student of tennis. She’s always after strategy, how to win a winner. We meet one on one once a week, and then some more in clinics like hit–night. The hit–night hitters, (princesses of power) are the cream of the crop. They can’t get enough tennis.”
Carter continues to work on her swing with Bernie. “We’re working on taking the ball early, being aggressive, and compacting her forehand. We’re moving Carter up to the 11–year–old age division. She’s ready for the challenge.”
Carter revealed her secret strategy to success. “When I’m down like I was in Texas during the second set, I talked to my mother. She told me she was proud of me for just being here in the tournament. My mom helped me to play my best. She’s special.”
Supportive parents, family, friends, and coaches have paved the road for Carter to earn the title of the number one national champion. Her racket strings are ready for future “roads to the Little Mo Nationals” to defend her title.