By Tommy Howard

Tennis coach James Brown at Waccamaw High School confirmed Thursday he's not going to coach the girls' team next year. He will remain at the Pawleys Island school with the boys' tennis team and as weight room-strength and conditioning coach.

Brown will leave the girls' program because he has a chance to be an assistant football coach at St. James High School and spend time with his dad J.B. Brown every afternoon during practices.

Not only is his dad, 70, an assistant coach at St. James, but head coach Billy Hurston is his 30-year best friend.

"They have asked me to help next year," Brown said in a message to tennis team members.

"This gives me every afternoon with my Dad, something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. Our girls are so precious to me and I will not leave them empty-handed. I will continue to work with them in the summer and winter, have already set up a schedule for next season and am working with Mr. [David] Hammel to make sure our girls have the coaching they deserve."

Over the past several years, Brown continued, the girls' program has grown to the extent that it "is on the brink of greatness."

Richmond signing

A sign of the good tennis program is that senior Josh Richmond will sign a letter of intent next Wednesday to play tennis at Furman University.

Brown also encouraged parents and tennis players to consider USTA team tennis, a new program to this area. And, he said, he will continue with morning clinics all summer long.

'Has been wonderful'

Brown thanked the girls and their parents for support of the program, "But mostly thanks for letting your daughters affect my life in such a positive manner. It has been wonderful, especially seeing our little team of 2009 bring home the GOLD. I will cherish that moment forever."

Brown told the Georgetown Times, "I'm not ever going to leave Waccamaw unless I have to. The atmosphere here is unbelievable."

Principal David Hammel and Georgetown County School District Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier "are great."

"I just want to be with my dad," he said.

A plus is that he's grown up with coach Bill Hurston since the two men were kids. "He's been my best friend for 30 years of my life."

Over the past month or more, Brown said, he's been considering the offer at St. James. "It just took me awhile to decide to do it."

"They're such a sweet bunch of girls. They work pretty hard," he said of the tennis team.

Brown said with his work in the weight room with students and with the boys' tennis team, "I get to influence all the athletes."

"I love it. It's my passion."