Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 16, 2012

Eagle has landed

Womack gets full ride to Morehead

Rocky Stanley
The Independent

WESTWOOD —  State high school singles runner-up Kennedy Womack is all about the Eagles these days.

After transferring from Rose Hill Christian to Fairview in September, the senior signed a national letter of intent Thursday to play tennis at Morehead State University.

Fairview and MSU share the Eagles nickname.   

“They always say it’s a great day to be an Eagle,” an enthused Womack said following the signing ceremony in Fairview’s library. “I will be an Eagle four more years.”

Womack, a senior, received a full athletic scholarship to attend the Ohio Valley Conference school.

She dressed for the occasion, wearing a Morehead State hairband, blue nail polish, MSU hooded sweatshirt, sparkly blue tennis shoes, and blue and gold jewelry.

“In June, they contacted me and basically said we want you,” Womack recalled.

She called it a perfect situation.

“They have a heck of a tennis program,” Womack said. “(Head coach) Kevin Fulton has done wonders. I met the players and coaches and felt like I really fit in. It’s near home and I love the campus. It’s not too big, and not too small.”

Womack, who wants to become a lawyer, felt no need to make any other college visits.

“When you find the right place, you just know it,” she said.

Thursday marked the culmination of many years of hard work spent on tennis courts near and far for the 18-year-old.

Womack has played extensively on the national junior circuit. What she lacks in height, the 5-foot-1 player makes up for with consistent ground strokes and strong resolve.

“This is the day I’ve been dreaming of since I was 8 years old,” Womack said. “You couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s so hard to get an athletic scholarship like this. I feel blessed. I thank my parents for taking me all over the country.”

Kennedy’s mother, Tammie, is a Morehead State graduate.  

Womack credits much of her success to strong local coaching from Todd Wise, James Kent, Julie Ditty, Chris Meinfelter, B.J. Lehosit and most recently Umang Chadda at Bellefonte Country Club.

“It’s been a long road,” she said. “A lot of people helped me get to this point.”

Last spring, Womack was seeded third at the KHSAA State Championships after having gall bladder surgery in December. She surged to the finals with five consecutive wins in straight sets before dropping a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 battle to top-seeded Madie Cook of Notre Dame Academy.

“It’s one of the things I will always remember,” Womack said. “I really want to win it this year.”

It’s uncertain, however, whether she will be ruled eligible by the KHSAA based on circumstances surrounding her transfer.

“We’ve sent everything to the KHSAA,” Fairview principal Garry McPeek said Thursday. “It’s in their hands.”

Meanwhile, Womack says she couldn’t feel more welcome than her first two months at Fairview.

“It’s so special here,” she said. “I can’t describe the warmth I feel in my heart. Fairview is one big family. I thank Mr. McPeek and the staff for that. You don’t understand it until you are a student here.”  

Womack’s school pride has her wanting to become the school’s first state tennis champion next spring.

“It would be really special to win for Fairview as much as they do for the students,” she said. “I just want to get an opportunity to represent my school, not just for me but the Eagle community.”

 ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.