It had taken Cypress Lake senior Rebecca Morse four years to finally say yes to high school tennis.
It didn’t come a moment too soon.
Because the left-handed Morse wasn’t any first year player. She was a Tennis Recruiting Network four-star prospect who had committed verbally to play women’s tennis at Appalachian State University.
She had won a USTA regional tournament in 2012 in Coral Gables at the age of 15.
As a senior for Cypress this season, she has gone 15-1 and on Thursday captured the District 2A-11 singles title Three Oaks Park, her first as a high school player.
She’ll continue her lone season at the FHSAA Class 2A state tournament at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford on April 14.
“I’ve had everyone coming at me and nagging for me to play for Cypress,” Morse said. “I decided that this was the year.”
A player since the age of 7, Morse chose not to play largely for other reasons. She had a busy USTA circuit of tournaments that interfered with the high school season.
She was also involved in Cypress Lake’s dance department with ballet and choreography.
But high school sports, in the scheme of things, is a seminal moment. Morse didn’t want to miss it.
“I finished my high school year playing high school tennis,” she said.
There have been some great moments, some killer shots, difficult plays made to look routine. Morse makes it look easy half the time.
But she’s also lost, and there have been times when she’s had to fight a battle on the court.
“Everyone always thinks if they get me mad on the court, they think it’ll bring me down or get in my head,” she said. “But it doesn’t. It pumps me up. I’m a fighter. I fight until the end.”
Not literally, of course. But more than once this season, Morse has proven that her high school career was everything she hoped it would be.
Pressing, compelling, engaging and exciting.
Signing day: The National Letter of Intent signing day for basketball and all other high school sports not named football will take place on April 15.
Mariner’s Rodney Hunter, who is committed to Columbia, will sign his official document next week. So will athletes from Southwest Florida Christian Academy, including Logan Long (basketball), Taylor Edens (basketball), Janelle Lopez (cheerleading) and Corey Jones (football).
Wrestling showcase: Riverdale High is hosting a wrestling showcase on Friday, April 17 which will feature former Olympic and NCAA Champions.
Pat Milkovich, the head coach of Florida Gulf Coast’s men’s Division II club wrestling team is one of the featured wrestlers. Former NCAA champions David Taylor and Nate Carr will also attend, along with former All-America wrestler Cyler Sanderson of Iowa State.