Cornett to continue tennis career at VI

By Michelle Prater
STAR STAFF
mprater@starhq.com
Virginia Intermont College is about to find out what it will be like to have another exceptional tennis player added to its already intimidating team.
Adam Cornett, who recently graduated from Johnson County High School, signed with VI tennis coach Ron Worrell yesterday to play tennis for the college.
Cornett, who played tennis throughout his entire high school career, was named to the all-conference team for three years, placing second his sophomore year, third his junior year, and taking first place his senior year.
"The first time I picked up a racquet was spring of my freshman year," Cornett said. "I didn't seriously start playing until my sophomore year."
That's understandable, considering that Cornett started out playing basketball his freshman year, and swung both sports for three years before dropping basketball his senior year to focus entirely on tennis.
Cornett played on both the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams, while also playing tennis.
"It was tiring," Cornett recalled. "I wanted to find one sport to stick to."
Adam's mother, Sherry Potter, helped influence his decision to play tennis, as well as his decision to sign with Virginia Intermont.
An alumni of VI, Potter always wanted her son to go to a small college and also encouraged him to play tennis.
"I had been trying to get him to play since the fifth or sixth grade, but he had his eye on basketball," Potter said.
When Cornett decided to try tennis, he ended up liking it better than basketball, confirming the "mother knows best" claim.
Potter is extremely pleased that her son will be following in her footsteps at VI, saying: "I know the kind of college it is; it's almost like being with family. I'm impressed with Coach Worrell and his attitudes and philosophies."
She credits Cornett with getting there, however.
"It was his own work ethic," she said.
She explained how Cornett would leave home for the tennis courts, and not return for hours. "He would be begging for people to play him," Potter said.
Cornett is looking forward to playing tennis at Intermont. He is currently planning on pursuing some type of business administration major.
"I've been given a great opportunity by Coach Worrell to play for one of the top teams in the country," Cornett said.
Cornett feels that his game improved dramatically his senior year at Johnson County under Coach Ryan Arnold. "He let us have a lot of fun," Cornett said of Arnold, "but he was kind of strict, which we weren't used to. He made us run a lot - we were kind of out of shape. He helped the team out a whole lot."
Arnold, a graduate of Virginia Intermont himself, is also pleased that Cornett will be attending VI this fall.
"It's probably the best program around," Arnold said. "They go to national tournaments every year."
Arnold was impressed by Cornett's game when he began coaching Cornett during his final year of school.
"He's a great kid. He probably knows more tennis than I do," Arnold joked. "He worked so hard on his own this year."
Arnold feels that Cornett's excellent work ethic is what will help his adjustment to playing tennis at a collegiate level.
"They're such a good team, it will take a couple of years to get into things. He's such a hard worker, that by his junior year, he'll be an exceptional player," Arnold said.
Virginia Intermont tennis coach Ron Worrell had his sights set on Cornett early in his high school career.
"I'd known about him because of his accomplishments in high school," Worrell said. "I keep the good tennis players on my radar, but I don't bother them until their senior year. I want them to focus on their academics."
Arnold, whom Worrell knew from his years of playing basketball at VI, mentioned Cornett's tennis skill, and Worrell contacted Cornett to play against some of the VI tennis team members.
After setting up a couple matches and watching him play, Worrell decided that he wanted Cornett to join his team.
Worrell said that "good students, good players, and good kids" are the three main things he looks for when he's recruiting. "I think Adam exemplifies what I'm trying to find," he said.
Worrell has confidence that Cornett will do well adjusting to the fast-paced change that collegiate level tennis will bring. He echoes Arnold's and Potter's claims that Cornett's strong work ethic will help him adapt to playing for VI.
"What I like about Adam," Worrell said, "is that he's got a great work ethic and doesn't mind putting in the time to play the game. That's what it takes. He has a great passion for the game of tennis. I think my problem will be keeping him off the courts. He will do well -- I have no doubts."
Worrell said that Cornett will have to work hard to break into his starting lineup. He has five returning starters, as well as two other players who play very well.
"I tell him not to let that deter him from entering the starting lineup. I wouldn't recruit him if I didn't think he could do it," Worrell stated.
Cornett said that one of the reasons he started playing tennis was because he was told that there are a lot of opportunities with tennis to go places and meet people. The piece of advice has rung true so far, with his warm welcome to Virginia Intermont College.