Special day for LaGrange’s Pauley

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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The McCluskey Tennis Complex has been a second home for LaGrange High’s Annie Pauley over the years.

Pauley is part of a tennis-playing family, so some of her earliest memories are of times spent at the facility.

That’s what made Saturday such a special day for Pauley, who is this year’s recipient of the Joe Cornett scholarship.

The scholarship, named after Joe Cornett, a local tennis enthusiast who died in 2012, is given each year in conjunction with the Cornett Classic tournament.

Pauley, a senior standout for LaGrange, received the scholarship during a ceremony at the tennis center.

“It’s just an honor, because I love tennis so much,” said Pauley, who will attend Auburn University. “It’s been great to be able to grow up here. The community’s so great.”

Pauley has been a starter on the LaGrange tennis team since her ninth-grade year, and she has had a phenomenal senior season.

Pauley, the number two singles player, has won nearly every one of her matches this spring, and   it was her victory against Columbus that gave LaGrange the Region 2-AAAA championship.

LaGrange and Columbus had each won two matches, so the winner of the number two singles match would earn the victory, and the region title. After dropping the first set, Pauley rallied to win the second set before capturing the tie-breaker.

Earlier in the season, Columbus beat LaGrange, and Pauley lost her match.

“We had an opportunity to get it turned around, and Annie Pauley came through for us and won   the deciding match and made us region champions,” said LaGrange’s long-time tennis coach, Kenny Moore.

While Moore has coached Pauley for four seasons, he’s known her a lot longer than that. Pauley’s older brother Jake was a former player at LaGrange, and her parents Mike and Lynn are also active players, and Mike is the athletics director at the school.

“I’ve known here all of her life,” Moore said. “She is just such a special young lady. She’s a great daughter, a great friend, a great grand-daughter. Everything in her life is excellence.”

Moore stressed that Pauley is also someone who pushes herself, and others, to be their best.

“One thing that stands out about here is, she has high standards for herself, and everything she does,” Moore said. “She demands that everybody around her has high standards.”

Among those who were a part of Saturday’s ceremony was Bill Champion, the head tennis professional at the tennis center, as well as coach Alan Smith.

Both men helped Pauley become the player she is, and Smith in particularly worked closely with her during high school.

“Everybody here has kind of shaped me into how I play today, but since high school, he has really helped me go to the next level with my game and feel really confident,” Pauley said of Smith. “I really appreciate him.”

Everyone associated with the tennis center, Pauley added, has meant the world to her.

“They’re like my family,” Pauley said. “We’ve all grown up here. Having a court named after my grandfather (Buddy Loyd) is awesome.”