Unicoi's Campbell gets her wish, will play for Lady Buffs

By Matt Hill

STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   ERWIN--The college that Amber Campbell wanted to go to for a long time wanted her just as bad.
   The Unicoi County High School tennis standout recently signed a letter of intent to continue playing the sport at Milligan College.
   Milligan was the school that Campbell desperately wanted to go to. When Milligan head coach Marvin Glover offered her a scholarship, Campbell jumped on the opportunity.
   "I've been looking to go there for a long time," The four-time Region I-A/AA champion said. "Coach Glover made an offer I couldn't turn down."
   Also attractive to Campbell were Milligan's high educational standards. Campbell sports a 3.88 G.P.A. at UCHS.
   "I had asked Milligan about their academic standards, and I found out that the acceptance rate to graduate school is so high," Campbell said. "I'm interested in nursing, and they have a great nursing program. I'm excited."
   Another factor in Campbell coming to Milligan happened to be that her brother, Adam Campbell, was a student and member of the tennis team at the school.
   "I had watched Adam play for three years, and I know how much he loves being at the school," Campbell said. "But it did have an influence on my decision."
   Campbell will join a solid program that has several good players, including former Elizabethton High School standout Sara Wallingford.
   Campbell knows that despite all of her success in high school, this is a different level. That means she is going to take a different approach to things.
   "I'm not going to put any pressure on myself to be the best," Campbell said. "I've achieved my goal to play college tennis, now I just see it as something to do for fun."
   Fun is something that Campbell really didn't have much of the last few weeks.
   Campbell's dilemma of whether or not to play in the state tennis tournament or attend graduation ceremonies became a huge story not just area wide, but also throughout the state.
   The tournament's final match in Memphis was scheduled to be played the day of her graduation. With that in mind, Campbell decided not to go.
   Almost all the Tri-Cities papers, including this one, had a story about the controversy. But Campbell received the shock of a lifetime when she answered the phone one night.
   Teresa Walker from the Associated Press called Campbell, and did a story that ran throughout the state.
   "A lady called me from the AP wanting to do a story," Campbell said. "People were concerned and they're still asking me about it."
   Campbell doesn't have any regrets about choosing to go to graduation.
   "People know who I am and how well I could play," Campbell said. "I don't regret it. I had already proven that I could play.
   "I had been to the state three times, now I wanted to graduate."
   Not going to Memphis definitely didn't shatter a great career. In addition to the four regional titles, Campbell won four District 1-AA championships, finished second in the Class A/AA state tournament in singles as a junior, and didn't lose a Watauga Conference match her whole four years at UCHS.
   Campbell couldn't be happier with the career she's had.
   "It's a great feeling to know that I've accomplished my goals," Campbell said. "I don't have any regrets. I've really been blessed."
   Campbell credits local tennis legend Jim Flannagan and her brother for making her the player she is today.
   "When I became serious about tennis, Jim really helped me so much," Campbell said. "And Adam was always there to take me to practice before I could drive. He encouraged me to be all I could be."
   Campbell also thought her parents, Dana and Teresa Campbell, were always there for her not only in tennis, but in life.
   "They encouraged me to give it 110 percent," she said. "They made sure I knew that they were there for me."
   Campbell's most memorable moment might have happened this year when her team made it to the sectional tournament.
   "We had three seniors and that was the first time we had won the regional title," Campbell said. "That was an incredible experience."
   Now that high school tennis is over with, Campbell feels her good times are only just beginning.
   "I feel like I'm beginning the second chapter of my life," Campbell said. "The best time of my life is just beginning. I'm going to a Christian school with more opportunities than just tennis. I can't see how I couldn't have more fun at Milligan than I had in high school."