By Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald
There’s been a long line of Cherokee County High School tennis players who continued their careers at Gadsden State Community College.
CCHS senior Granger Surrett became the latest in that fraternity when he signed a scholarship with the Cardinals on Jan. 25.
The Warriors’ No. 1 match player said he’s anxious to carry on the Cherokee County tradition at Gadsden State that includes Zack Highfield, Jacob Smith, Ryan Wilson and Scott Bates.
“It is cool that so many of us have gone there,” Surrett said. “If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think anyone from Centre has ever played No. 1 at Gadsden State, and I’d like to be the first one. I’m just glad I’m getting to go to a school where I think I can really contribute my first year right off the bat and have some good playing time as a freshman.”
Surrett won the Jacksonville sectional tournament his sophomore year and took runner-up last year.
Gadsden State coach Buster Stewart, who said he’s kept his eye on Surrett over the past two years, was very impressed with his tryout with the Cardinals last fall.
“I was pleased and a little bit surprised how much he had grown since I saw him in the spring,” Stewart said. “He had a real good tryout. I really didn’t know much about him, but some of the kids who were playing for me would talk to me about him. They said we think he’s going to have a lot of potential, and I just kind of laid back and watched him.
“He seems like a real genuine kid. I think he’s going to be a real good fit with some of the players we’ll have coming back next year. I definitely think he’ll be in the starting lineup and be able to contribute as a freshman for us.”
Surrett said he’s looking forward to continuing his tennis career with Stewart.
“I love Coach Buster,” Surrett said. “He’s really a good guy besides being a good coach. He’s coached for so long. He coached high school tennis before he coached college. I think he kind of understands how big of a gap it is between high school and college tennis and what it takes to make somebody a good player.”
Like Stewart, Cherokee County High tennis coach Brooke Tallent has watched Surrett’s development on the court. She said she’s been impressed with how well Surrett has developed throughout his career.
“He’s really matured, and that’s been fun to watch,” Tallent said. “Granger’s been here for several years now and he’s kind of been the one to lead our guys. Even as a sophomore and a junior, he was kind of the one who has encouraged the rest of them to try their best. He was instrumental last year in the boys making it to state. He’s played No. 1 for us for several years now. At a young age, he’s gotten through a tough position, and I think that’s helped him be at the level that he can go to now.”
Although Surrett said it’s bittersweet for him to know this season will be his last as a Warrior, he’s excited about the challenges Gadsden State will bring to his development.
“It helps to know that this year won’t be my last match. I’ve got the best group of guys ever to have with me, and I think we’re going to be really strong this year. I think we have a good shot at getting in the top five in the state this year.”