First For An Erwin Athlete In At Least 25 Years - TribPapers

First For An Erwin Athlete In At Least 25 Years

With mom, Alicia, and dad, Aaron by his side, Kelson Rymer maybe the first student from Erwin to sign to play tennis right out of high school. Photo by Clint Parker

Erwin High – It’s the first for an Erwin athlete in 25 years or maybe more, according to the retired tennis coach at Clyde A. Erwin. A student-athlete has signed up to play tennis for a college.

Senior Kelson Rymer signed up on Wednesday, May 15th, to play tennis for Montreat College’s tennis team. Surrounded by friends, family, and fellow athletes, he inked the deal that will make him the first student in nearly three decades or longer to sign to play tennis, according to Lisa Laney, who retired as the school’s tennis coach but came back for Rymer’s signing.

Laney tells the story that Rymer’s first year playing tennis was when he was on the JV team, which was also the COVID year. “I lost about four players in the season about halfway through and got to the conference tennis tournament, and Kelson was out there playing, and I had another coach…who said, ‘Who is that kid, and why did we not see him during the regular season’…he was really angry because his player was losing is kinda what it boiled down to.” Laney said Kelson has played in every conference since and regional last year. After Laney finished addressing those gathered, Kelson signed his commitment papers.

Kelson’s mom, Alicia, said of our son’s accomplishment, “I think it’s amazing that he is the first one from Erwin to go on, so I’m excited for him.” She was also happy that he would be close by for college.

Kelson’s dad, Aaron, was also overjoyed at his son’s achievement and talked about how his boy got interested in tennis, “We were in between baseball tournaments, and we passed some tennis courts and decided to go to Walmart and by a couple of 20-dollar rackets, that’s really how it started and they, fell in love with it, him and his brothers.”

“It’s just been a privilege to watch Kelson grow and watch him improve and get better and better over the years,” explained Laney, talking with the Tribune. “We talked about this day from about his sophomore year. He told me he wanted to play at the collegiate level if he could, and we told him we’d do everything we could to make that happen.”

Asked what made Kelson so good, she said, “I think he has a natural talent for it. I’ll be honest. He and his two brothers who play tennis. He’s also put in the time and the work; he’s been dedicated to it.”

“It feels pretty good, but it’s a little scary, though,” Kelson explained about his move from high school to college.” A couple of the reasons he cites for the timidness about the move are that everyone will be older, and he’ll have a new group of teammates. The Tribune asked Kelson why he thought he was so good at tennis, and his answer was a little different from that of his coach, “It’s probably my work ethic. I really didn’t have the training everybody else had, like lessons and stuff, so I would learn off of YouTube to see what I was to do, and me and my brothers would get out there and practice.”

The Tribune contacted David Ball, Buncombe County Athletic Specialist, and an Erwin graduate about the claim that Rymer was the first tennis player to sign out of high school. Ball said tennis started at Erwin back in the early 1970s and said he would have to check because there were really good players back in the late 1970s when he was in school.

After a few hours, Ball called the Tribune back and told us, “We had at least two players play off that one (late 70s) team in college…Keith Freeman was a real good player that played at Western (WCU),” but he went to App State his freshman year and didn’t play there, explained Ball. Doug Shoffner became a tennis pro and played for UNC-Asheville, but again, not out of high school, Ball went on to say. “[Rymer], he could be the first.”