BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Mercer Named National P.O.Y.

By SHAWN RINE

Sports Editor

WHEELING – The Mercer family has gotten a great deal out of the game of tennis from one generation to the next. You would think they have seen it all, but that’s not the case.

Take for example, Cassie Mercer, a standout player for Huntington High School the last four years. All she did before graduating in the spring was win four state championships in both singles and doubles as a Highlander.

That’s not the crazy part, according to her grandfather, Don Mercer, a local tennis legend.

”She was named national player of the year,” Don Mercer said. ”It’s quite an honor.”

It’s true.

Earlier this month, Cassie Mercer was selected for the award by the National High School Coaches Association for 2014 girls’ tennis honors. Mercer is West Virginia’s first girls’ tennis player honored by the NHSCA. The organization selected 2014 Athletes of the Year from 20 boys’ and girls’ sports who will be recognized in the National High School Sports Hall of Fame Museum being built at its headquarters in Easton, Pa.

It capped an unbelievable high school career for the daughter of Marshall’s women’s tennis coach, Laurie Mercer, who held that position prior to her husband taking over.

Cassie Mercer is ranked the No. 5 tennis prospect in the country and will continue her academic and athletic careers at the University of Virginia, a top-10 college program. Don Mercer said that a lot of players that highly regarded opt for the home school route, but that was never an option for his granddaughter.

”She always liked the team part of it, and I always stressed it in my family,” Don Mercer said. ”I always stressed playing as a family.

”I played with my father and with all three of my sons, and we were No. 1 in the country at one point.”

The obvious question here, is how does a collegiate women’s tennis coach have the No. 5 prospect in the United States sleeping under his roof, but fail to land her?

”They have been coaching her for a long time and I think she is ready for some outside coaching,” Don Mercer said with a laugh. ”John has had some all-americans at Marshall and he has won a lot of honors.”

Cassie Mercer overcame a serious knee injury when she was 15 to move her way back into the spotlight.

”She tripped up on some drapes during a match and her leg got caught up,” Don Mercer recalled. ”She was out 6-8 months and just like a pro, you have to start over with your ranking.

”She has gradually gotten stronger.”

Don Mercer believes Cassie, who has played nationally against girls from areas like Chicago and Indiana, will step right in and contribute for the Cavaliers as a true freshman doubles player.

The grandparents did a lot of babysitting while mom and dad were taking Cassie around the country, so they are looking forward to some road trips and getting to see her play in person.

”It’s going to be fun,” Don Mercer said.