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Tennis freshman continues to hone her skills

It might be the offseason for high school tennis, but one Russellville player is making the most of that time off to continue to hone her skills.

Peyton Parrish, a freshman at Russellville High School, has been smashing her way to victory on the tennis courts lately – despite the unexpected challenge of the global pandemic.

When COVID-19 abruptly ended the Russellville varsity tennis team’s chances of returning to the state championship in 2020, Parrish decided to use the extra time at home to improve her game. She spent hours of her quarantined days practicing with friends, taking lessons and hitting with her dad.

Losing the 2020 season to the coronavirus “made me very upset,” Parrish said. “We had three seniors who had competed in the state tournament their freshman through junior years.  We had all worked hard and knew we would have a good chance of doing really well in the tournament.

“I actually got to compete at state my seventh grade year,” she added. “I made it to the semi-final round and was hoping to do even better.”

In April 2020 the Golden Tiger was ranked 66th in the state for girls age 14 – but the United States Tennis Association had cancelled all tournaments, a ban was not lifted until June.

Once tournament play resumed, Parrish began her quest to improve her ranking. She traveled to tournaments in Mobile, New Albany, Mississippi, Birmingham, Decatur and Huntsville – and won seven out of nine tournaments, collecting more than 2,160 points and moving her USTA ranking from 66th all the way to 15th in the state.

“It makes me happy to see my hard work pay off,” Parrish said. “I would like to go to a four-year college to play tennis, so I know it will take a lot of hard work to get good enough to compete at that level.”

Since November 2019 Parrish has played in 31 matches, winning 25 of those. She said her goal now is to work harder, improve her skills, hit the top five ranking and be ready to help lead the Russellville girls tennis team back to the state tournament in the spring.

She said she loves the sport because “it is fun and competitive. I have also made some really good friends from all across the state that I have met at tournaments.”  

Parrish is the 14-year-old daughter of Ralph and Suzanne Parrish.