STARKVILLE — Lynn Moorehead needed a rock for the Starkville Academy tennis program.
As a junior, Will Christiansen decided to step into that leadership role. Moorehead noticed a difference in Christiansen’s attitude and how he related to other players after the change.
Christiansen’s commitment to the sport and as a leader paid off Thursday, as he signed a National Letter of Intent with Division III Brevard College in front of friends, family, and classmates at Starkville Academy. Brevard College is a private, United Methodist, liberal arts college in Brevard, North Carolina.
“He has led our team in the past few years,” Moorehead said. “This year, he’s really, really stepped up. He is playing tournaments every weekend to better himself and he’s playing anytime he can. He’ll step up and work with our beginners, help them out and give them pointers. He has just really been the rock for this team.”
Christiansen and Starkville Academy will compete Monday in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA North State championship at Greenville-St. Joseph. Kacey Favor and Mary Elliott Winfield will compete in girls singles, Aubrey Claire Armstrong and Sydney Passons will compete in girls doubles, and Parker Guest and Emory Stevens will compete in mixed doubles. Christiansen will compete in boys singles.
Christiansen is 7-0 in singles and has lost only four games as a senior. Christiansen said his success is due to his dedication to practice and being on the court as often as he can be.
As much success as he has had on the court, Christiansen’s leadership has been just as impressive. He said he wasn’t scared to accept that role.
“It’s kind of natural going out there and taking what I’ve learned from coaches and just trying to pass it on to the younger kids and let them know what to do and trying to make everybody as good as they can be,” Christiansen said.
The success of Starkville Academy’s program has been a work in progress. Moorehead said the players focused on winning a few games in matches, not winning matches several years ago. That’s why she needed a player like Christiansen to lean on. She feels like he has handled the pressure and expectations well.
“He never grumbles when you ask him to hit with any level of player,” Moorehead said. “He’s always willing to step up and he really wants the team to be better. He’s not about himself. It’s really nice to have such a team player.”
Christiansen also had interest from Millsaps College and Methodist University in North Carolina. He received an email from Brevard coach Evan Schreiner and decided to respond.
“It looked like a really nice school, so I went up there for a visit, and I really enjoyed it up there,” Christiansen said. “It’s a really nice area, and I really like the coach.”
Brevard has one senior and one junior on the roster. There are four freshmen and one sophomore, so Christiansen will learn like his future teammates.
Moorehead said she doesn’t know much about the program, but she feels Christiansen will be a good fit after talking to Schreiner. She also thinks he has a real good chance to be the rock for Brevard in a couple of years.
“I think he has those qualities as a leader and as a person,” Moorehead said. “I think he’s strong enough he could be that leader.”
Christiansen’s dedication will leave a lasting impression at Starkville Academy. Moorehead hopes it continues for at least a couple of more weeks.
Christiansen is just glad he could help.
“I’ve always had a passion for tennis,” Christiansen said. “It’s always been my favorite thing to do. I’ve loved the game since I was growing up, and it’s lots of fun.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.