Just as those who came before her, Emma Springs took her role as captain and caretaker of the Myrtle Beach girls tennis dynasty rather seriously.
Many came before the Seahawks’ senior standout, walking in the same steps as countless others who had helped the program earn 15 state championships in its history. Yet with her own named scribed beside them, Springs felt it necessary to set an example for those following in her footprints.
“I’ve been on this team for six years. I’ve pretty much seen it all,” she said. “I remember coming up, and having that time with some of the older girls on the team. I looked up to them and all they had accomplished. Their success made me want the same.”
Helping lead Myrtle Beach to a state championship in 2015, Springs racked up an overall record of 24-1 — including an 18-1 singles record. And though she wasn’t able to lead the Seahawks to a title for a second year in a row, it’s fair to say her legacy within the program is firmly entrenched.
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In addition to earning being selected to the state tournament, Region VII-4A Player of the Year and being selected as a North-South all-star, tack on yet another honor to her resume. For her work on the tennis court, Springs is this year’s Toast of the Coast girls tennis Player of the Year.
“It’s great,” she said. “When you start at the bottom when first moving up to varsity, and making your way up to the No. 1 spot, it really makes you appreciate the journey.”
While a team sport, Springs learned early on that each individual battle matters.
“Yes, there were times I was nervous, because knowing this is a team sport you’re pulling for everyone else,” she said. “But then you also have to pull your own weight. So trying to balance it all was a challenge.”
The addition of becoming Myrtle Beach’s No. 1 player didn’t necessarily lighten the load. Yet, few would be able to detect such nervous energy, Springs’ only loss during the season coming against Bishop England.
“Knowing it was my last year, I really wanted to put my best foot forward,” she said. “Playing No. 1, I felt a lot of pressure. But I knew what I had to do.”
Seemingly the only thing Springs couldn’t do was lead the Seahawks to a state title in her senior season. Despite that, she knows the program is in good hands.
“It ended way earlier than we expected. I certainly wish we could have gone further,” she said. “But most of these girls have made it to states. This is a pretty young team, with there being only two seniors leaving. They’ll have a good shot.”
As for Springs, she is hanging up her racket, not planning to take up tennis at the college level. However, playing the sport at the intramural level — whether she chooses to attend Clemson University or the University of South Carolina — certainly remains a possibility.
“I want to be able to enjoy my college experience,” she said. “But we’ll see; there may be some tennis in my future.”
This is the fifth installment in a nine-day series honoring the top athletes from the fall high school sports season. Wednesday: Girls golf.
TOAST OF THE COAST – GIRLS TENNIS
Player of the Year
School: Myrtle Beach
Notable: The Region VII-4A player of the year, she was voted an all-region performer five years in a row. Springs was 18-1 this season as Myrtle Beach’s No. 1 singles player. Also was a North-South all-star nominee.
Notable: Went 10-3 overall this past season, losing only once in Region VI-5A play. As captain of the Aynor girls tennis team, was No. 1 player on a squad that went on to claim a league crown.
Notable: Played No. 1 singles and doubles for Georgetown this past season, earning All-Region VI-3A honors in the process.
Anna Brice Cox
Notable: Following an undefeated run through Region VI-5A play, was voted by coaches in the league as its player of the year. Played a key role as Socastee rolled to the Region VI-5A title.
School: Myrtle Beach
Notable: Was 19-2 overall this past season, largely as the No. 2 player on a Myrtle Beach squad that claimed the Region VII-4A title. Was voted an all-region performer for the fifth consecutive year.
School: Myrtle Beach
Notable: As the Seahawks’ No. 3 player, finished the season 18-1. Was voted a Region VII-4A performer for the fifth year in a row.
School: Green Sea Floyds
Notable: Selected to play in the state singles tournament this past season. Played No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, earning a 19-10 overall record this season. Played a key role in the Trojans advancing to the second round of the Class A-AA playoffs.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Notable: In his first season as girls varsity tennis coach, Williams led a young Braves squad to the Region VI-5A title. Socastee did not lose a match in league competition.