Coleman Craddock, daughter of Jennifer and Robert Craddock, was awarded the Charlotte Yokley Tennis Award during the awards banquet for the Mount Airy High School girls’ tennis team on Dec. 18.
The Yokley Award is not an annual award, and is only given out when there is a deserving recipient with a clear majority vote among her teammates. The girls’ version of the award was last awarded to Jade Hughes in 2013. The honor is based on enthusiasm, determination, sportsmanship and perseverance. It is named in honor of Charlotte Weatherly Yokley, a former MAHS tennis player who died in an accident in 1991.
The plaque given to recipients reads “This award symbolizes the love, desire, and determination that Charlotte possessed for the game.” A winner does not have to be a standout player or even a starter. Six years ago, a reserve on the boys’ team earned the honor.
At the end of each boys and girls tennis season at Mount Airy, the team takes a vote, but a player must receive an overwhelming majority of the vote in order to receive the award.
Craddock was one of five freshmen who joined the Lady Bears for the 2012 season. Of the five, only she and Lauren Brintle, her long-time doubles partner, stuck it out through their senior seasons. In Craddock’s case, she showed her perseverance as a freshman and sophomore, when Mount Airy had more than 20 players on its roster.
“(Those) teams had significantly more veteran starters,” said coach Rodney Pell. “Her playing time was limited to exhibition matches.”
As a junior, the Lady Bears had four senior starters ahead of her, but Craddock eventually broke into the lineup. In 2014, she made the starting six five times, going 1-1 at No. 5 singles and 3-0 at No. 6, and 7-2 in nine appearances at No. 3 doubles with freshman Elizabeth Marion as her partner. Pell even trusted her in important Northwest 1-A Conference matches, and she delivered a 3-1 record in singles and 4-1 in doubles in league tilts.
“Coleman is a very thoughtful player,” said Pell. “She studies her opponent and makes necessary adjustments, she is a mature player who accepts suggestions for improvement, and she is always humble in victory and gracious in defeat.”
With the loss of so many seniors, few expected another banner season for Mount Airy in 2015, but the Lady Bears defied those projections by going 23-3 and advancing to the West Regional final. Only the presence of powerhouse Bishop McGuinness prevented Mount Airy from both winning the NW1A crown and advancing to the state championship.
Craddock did her part, going 3-0 at No. 2 singles, all in conference; 16-7 (6-3 conference) at No. 3 singles, and 15-9 (5-4) at No. 1 doubles while teamed with Brintle.
In her career, Pell stated that Craddock won six of eight split-set matches by rallying to win a set or a third-set tiebreaker, a credit to her ability to make in-match adjustments.