Harrison Richmond is Tennis All-American
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By Tommy Howard
That's the word to describe the honor Harrison Richmond received on Monday.
His friend and former Waccamaw tennis teammate Wes Moran presented him with a "National High School Tennis All-American" certificate.
Only 40 of those are given out each year in all the United States to boys, and 40 to girls. And, for a junior in a small school like Waccamaw, it's an even more unusual honor.
Moran earned the recognition himself in 2008. He's now enrolled at Clemson University.
"Very few juniors get that honor," Waccamaw coach James Brown said.
Quite a record
"In the 7th grade he lost one match, but that was in California against one of the top teams in the country. Since then, he has not lost a match anywhere."
"As a high school athlete, there's no bigger honor in this country," Brown said. "And when you have a chance to do it twice -- which he will -- that's incredible."
Richmond was "very surprised" when he went to the school library Monday morning.
Brown simply sent him a text message to go there, and the tennis player was surprised to see the library filled with teammates, other athletes and his parents.
"I found out when I walked in here."
"It's a big honor to follow Wes. I'm very happy," Richmond said. "I appreciate all these guys. I couldn't do it without them."
Brown said that South Carolina is a small state as far as the number of tennis players, but still estimates 200 schools have tennis teams of 10 to 15 players. At the same time, South Carolina has a great tennis tradition.
"For a small school in Pawleys Island, South Carolina to have two of them in the last three years ..."
"What these kids are accomplishing is pretty neat," Brown said.
Doctors Bill and Gayle Richmond are quite proud of their youngest of five children.
Paula, Andrea, Will, Joshua and Harrison all played tennis.
The family would go to tennis tournaments "and each had their own age group," Gayle Richmond said. "It was a lot of fun."
Harrison is just beginning the process of looking at colleges.
"He wants to go to one of the best tennis schools, and we want academics," his dad said. They're working to narrow it down to a college or university that excels in both.
Andrea and Josh were each valedictorians of their classes, and Harrison right now is number four in his class.
"The school has been incredibly helpful," Bill Richmond said, when Harrison is traveling for tennis tournaments.
Coach Brown said Harrison started playing tennis when he was about 5 years old.
"The first time I saw him, when he was about 6, the racquet was as big as he was."
Harrison's older brothers and some of the other guys who were playing tennis said, "Wait 'til Harrison gets here. He's better than all of us."
"And they were right."
Brown said Harrison has a good relationship with all the young players. "He handles things so well. He's stayed humble.
"He understands the whole thing comes about because of hard work."
Harrison's parents know well about his hard work.
"He's a very driven, focused kid," Bill Richmond said.
"He understands the geometry of the game. There's a lot of psychology in tennis.
"He's smart, very confident, aggressive and focussed."
Harrison was number one in the nation in his age group four years ago. He won the Orange Bowl tennis tournament, becoming only the second American in 25 years to do so.
He travels the world to play tennis, and is now ranked at 120 in the world in the ITF (International Tennis Federation).
The Richmonds have invited several top-level tennis players to come live with them and play against Harrison to help him hone his skills.
Wachesaw tennis pro Jimmy Mendieta instructs Harrison and a number of other top tennis players locally, both boys and girls.
Besides tennis and academics, Gayle and Bill Richmond say, Harrison likes the beach, boating and hunting. He loves sports, and they took him to the Super Bowl this year.
"He's a very good violinist," his mom said. He's been playing since he was about 4 years old. "He was All Region one time."
"The violin opens up a new world to you. It adds another dimension."
She said all the children played an instrument. Josh and Harrison played the violin and the rest played the cello.
"He's had a lot of support in the community," Bill Richmond said. People come out to matches to watch and encourage him.
Bill Richmond is founding partner and managing partner of Palmetto Emergency Physicians. He's director of emergency medicine at both Waccamaw and Georgetown hospitals.
Gayle Richmond is the founding partner of Carolina OB-GYN.