One way or another the high school tennis careers of Brighton High seniors Cody Strickland and Austin Russell will come to an end over the next couple of weeks.
The doubles team has some postseason matches upcoming this week and next and the state tournament will start May 23 in Murfreesboro.
That fact began to sink in over the last few weeks for Strickland and he had an idea.
“I think he started seeing how much fun we were having this year and realized this was the last year he was going to be able to play tennis,” Russell said about his doubles partner. “He thought, ‘Well Austin’s playing so maybe I should go, too.’”
Russell signed a tennis scholarship with Freed-Hardeman University in February, but Strickland was undecided at the time. He’s no longer undecided.
In front of a large group of family, friends, coaches and teammates Strickland signed his own tennis scholarship to Freed on Tuesday.
The pair began playing doubles together last season and good results came quickly. They won district and region titles last season and advanced to the state tournament. They have already won the district title this year while posting a 17-0 record and have plans to get back to Murfreesoboro later this month.
Both are solid all-around players. Russell said they are at their best when he’s at the net and Strickland is on the baseline.
Brighton tennis coach Kim Greer said they are two of the best players he’s ever coached.
“Cody is one of the best servers in the Memphis area and his consistency has improved tremendously since he was a freshman,” Greer said. “Together they have such great synergy. Freshman year (in college) can be tough, but I suspect one day we’ll be hearing from them again.”
Both players said they plan on playing doubles together at Freed. But, before that, they have some business to take care of. A doubles team from Houston knocked them out of state last year. The duo beat Houston 8-1 in a regular season match.
“Hopefully we’ll get to go to state this year,” Strickland said, “and we’ll see what happens.”