PROSPERITY — Mid-Carolina High School junior, and University of South Carolina commit, Elise Mills won her third consecutive individual state tennis championship Tuesday. She defeated the Christ Church’s Day Nuckolls, 7-5, 6-3, to win the Class A/2A/3A state championship.
Additionally, Mills teamed up with Riley Frazier to win their doubles match, which accounted for the Lady Rebels’ points on Saturday.
“It feels good to win a third time. It just shows that the hard work has paid off,” Mills said. “I want to keep moving forward because you’ll never be satisfied with anything.”
Mills added that her parents Becky and Darren Mills, who also played tennis, are proud of her accomplishment.
“My parents never really played tennis in high school, they just played it once they got out of high school. They are really proud of me,” Mills said.
One thing that Mills said has helped her become a better athlete is never putting the racquet down and continuing to work during the off season.
“You have to continue playing year round if you really want a shot of winning State and that goes for both team and individuals,” she said.
Mills also said that her coach, Kenny Sanders, played a crucial role in preparing her and the team for the State Championship.
“He pushes us all year long to make sure that we know we can do more and he always stays involved and helps us. He goes out of his way, I guess you could say. It’s not just practice time. He’ll make sure we’re doing more than just the minimal,” she said.
Sanders also commended Mills on her latest accomplishment.
“It’s amazing what she (Elise) is doing. She’s a good leader for us and a fantastic teammate and makes all of her teammates want to be better. She makes everybody else step up their game,” Sanders said. “Beating Christ Church’s number one player lets you see how Elise really is, she was the number one overall seed and had to beat Bishop England’s number one and three player. She didn’t have an easy road or path to this third championship, but that shows what a quality player she really is.”
Next year, Mills will be a senior and Sanders said that although it will be tough to see Mills leave and continue her career at USC, he feels that the team and program will be better than ever.
“With Elise being the quality player and type of person she is, she is really going to leave the program in good shape and make the program so much better. She’s leaving our program showing these girls what it takes to be a state champion. She is a leader and very coachable, overall just a fantastic person and player,” he said.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.