North Surry’s Sarah Glasco will continue her tennis career at Catawba College.
The four-time all-conference performer was the number one seed for the Lady Greyhounds throughout her high school career.
Mount Airy High School has a strong reputation in tennis and has won several team and individual awards, including the past three girls’ 1A state titles.
North Surry, however, is better known for its two 2A state volleyball titles or its great wrestling program. Tennis isn’t part of the same conversation.
Yet here is a senior who won three conference singles titles and qualified for the state tournament this past fall.
“I first picked up a tennis racquet when I was eight years old at Reeves summer camp,” Sarah recalled.
It was a week-long camp led by Mike McHone, added mom Suzette.
“There Sarah learned only the basics of tennis,” her mom said. “At the end of the week, awards were given out, and Sarah won most improved. It was then she decided that she wanted to pursue a tennis career.”
“I started taking lessons when I was 10 years old,” Sarah said.
“I asked several people whom I should get to work with Sarah,” said Suzette. “I always got the same response: coach James Hayes. We got Coach Hayes who started working with Sarah — and still does to this day.”
“My first year on a team was in seventh grade,” Sarah said. “It was the first year Gentry brought back a tennis team.”
After two years at Gentry and many hours working with Coach Hayes, Sarah arrived at North Surry battle-ready.
Of Hayes, Suzette said, “He taught Sarah the ethics and values of tennis. He is one of the reasons she is where she is today.”
“He never sugercoated anything. If she had a good practice, he praised her. But if she didn’t give it 100 percent like he knew she could, then he didn’t have to say anything. Sarah could tell that he was disappointed. And it paid off.”
With the retirement of long-time teacher Rodney Pell, the tennis coaching position would go into flux. While a few people moved through the girls’ and boys’ coaching jobs, Coach Hayes provided continuity.
As a freshman, Sarah was the Hounds’ number one seed and earned all-conference status. She finished runner-up in the 2A conference tournament and qualified for the regional tournament.
The next year, Sarah would become team captain and go on to win the first of her three conference championships.
Part of a split conference for the first three years, Sarah got to play against powerful teams like Mount Airy and Bishop McGuinness. Then at conference time, she was hardened to play against Surry Central and West Stokes players.
This past fall, North Surry entered into a 2A-only conference, yet Sarah again won the conference title.
Sarah’s toughest competition in the Western Piedmont came against Central’s Marlee Wilmoth, whom she faced four times in one season. She needed three sets to win the first match and went to 7-5 in the first set of the rematch.
Sarah beat Marlee to win the conference title, then had to face her again at regional.
“My fondest memory throughout her years would have to be this past September at regionals in Lexington,” said Suzette.
“Sarah had already played two long matches, winning the first and losing the second in a tiebreaker. So this meant Sarah had to play a third match to determine third or fourth place.
“And of all people, it was against a longtime rival, Marlee Wilmoth.
“It was about 8 p.m. when the tennis match began, and the match lasted about 2 and a half hours. Sarah was already worn out from playing all day.”
Sarah jumped out to a nice 5-2 lead in the first set, but Wilmoth battled back and eventually won the set in a tiebreaker
“I could tell she was getting weak and could hardly go,” said her mom.
Despite being exhausted, Sarah took the second set 6-1 to force a third set.
“Coach Maggie McKee and I both told Sarah she had nothing to prove, she’d already made it to states. She was a winner in our eyes no matter what, so maybe she should conserve her energy.
“Sarah looked at us both and said, ‘I’ve got this.’
“She went back out like a battery that had been recharged and won that third set (6-0).
“Sarah has always been a very determined young lady. She can conquer any goal she sets her mind to. Her dad, brother and I are very proud of her.”
While the victories over her Central rival will stay with the senior, Sarah added another favorite memory.
“Probably my ‘golden set’ on senior night,” she said. “A golden set is when you go an entire set without losing a single point.”
Against Carver, Sarah not only won 6-0, 6-0, but she didn’t make a single unforced error.
Beating a less-experienced opponent isn’t that hard, but doing so without a single mistake is nearly impossible, especially for aggressive players like Sarah, explained Coach McKee.
Sarah usually is willing to risk making an unforced error in the attempt to earn winners, but in this set she didn’t have a single ball long, wide or in the net.
“Her strokes are beautiful, but tennis is a lot more than hitting the ball hard,” the coach said. Part of her maturity as a senior is learning things like picking spots for going for a winner.
McKee was a tennis star at Mount Airy before matriculating to Catawba. Upon taking over the Hounds’ tennis program, she said of her top seed, “The thing that impressed me the most was that she really wanted to work hard to get better. She had a goal to play college tennis.”
“She played all summer long and took steps to reach that goal. I was impressed with the work ethic and I was honored that she picked my alma mater. I see a lot of myself in her.”
“Maggie went to Catawba, cheered and played tennis so she actually is the one who helped send out my videos and get in a good word for me there,” said Sarah.
“I love the campus and how nice the people are there,” said an enthusiastic Sarah. “It’s just really welcoming and somewhere I would want to live for four years.”
The Hound said she plans to major in pre-law and might even get a chance to cheerlead there.
In addition to her tennis prowess, Glasco spent two years on the soccer team, two years swimming and two cheering.