Uneasy decision awaits Unicoi's Amber Campbell

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Getting an opportunity to walk the stage with your friends during graduation ceremonies and play in the state tennis finals are thrills of a lifetime.
   But for one Unicoi County tennis player, the possibility of having to choose between one or the other has become a nightmare.
   Lady Devil tennis star Amber Campbell is going to the Spring Fling for the fourth straight year, that is if she decides to go.
   The championship match for the individuals is on Thursday, the same day as Unicoi County's graduation.
   The Campbell family has tried every way possible to find a scenario that would get Amber back in Erwin for graduation ceremonies if she makes the state finals. They can't find one that would work.
   "We've tried everything," Theresa Campbell, Amber's mother, said Monday after Amber had just won her fourth straight Region I-A/AA girls singles title.
   Campbell petitioned the TSSAA to move the girls singles final, which starts at 11 a.m. Eastern time, to be moved to earlier in the morning. That request was denied.
   "I called them and asked if I made it and the other player agrees, if they would move the match to an earlier time, and they said they couldn't," Amber Campbell said.
   There's a possibility that if Campbell decided not to go, region runner-up Morgan Smith would take her spot if the TSSAA allowed it. The Volunteer standout lost to Campbell 6-4, 6-4 on Monday in the championship.
   "I wouldn't want people to know why she was playing in my spot, but I wouldn't have a problem with that," Campbell said.
   The graduation ceremonies at UCHS being next Thursday night might cause havoc with the Lady Devil softball team, as there's a good chance the defending state champions will be in Memphis as well.
   As for Elizabethton High senior Liz Dove, who will also be making the trip to Memphis for the Spring Fling with doubles partner Amanda Pike, missing graduation ceremonies won't be an issue. Elizabethton's graduation is set for next Saturday, two days after the tennis finals.
   THE FINAL EVERYBODY WANTED
   As I was talking to people who were associated with local tennis last weekend, there was a lot of buzz about Johnson County's Adam Cornett and Elizabethton's David Reece possibly meeting for the fourth time this season in the Region I-A/AA Championship.
   But as we all know, it didn't happen. Both Cornett and Reece lost in the first round of the tournament.
   This disappointment was evident on the faces of both players after the defeats, but I wanted to take the time and praise them for their fine careers.
   Cornett and Reece both started out as raw beginners as freshman, then slowly became two of the top players in local Class AA tennis.
   By the time they were seniors, the improvement was so evident in both of these guys.
   These two players were rivals on the court. Off the court, they were very good fiends.
   After winning the District I-AA Tournament, Cornett said that if he had to lose, he would want it to be to Reece.
   Reece was also complimentary of Cornett after winning in their first meeting this year. He called Cornett "A class act guy," following the victory.
   I will admit that Monday was sad for this writer knowing that after three years, I will not be covering them any more on the high school level. But rest assured, these are two players I will always remember.
   A DYNAMIC DUO
   Liz Dove and Amanda Pike are headed to the state tennis tournament for the second year in a row after winning the Region I-A/AA Girls doubles title on Monday.
   Dove and Pike lost in the first round last year, but I don't expect that to happen again.
   Dove and Pike will know what to expect this time. They admitted that they were nervous last year, but they don't think nerves will be a problem this go around.
   Dove and Pike play very well together, as they didn't lose a set in the District or Regional Tournaments.
   It should be interesting to see how far this tandem can go.