By Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald
2016 Cherokee County High School graduate Joel Wester recently signed a tennis scholarship with Gadsden State Community College.
Wester played at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles for the Warriors thispast season.
“I wasn’t really expecting this (scholarship),” Wester said. “It was kind of late in the year. Each team only gives out six or seven scholarships. It’s a pretty small group who gets them, so I feel honored I was offered one. Not many people get this opportunity, and I feel like I’d regret it if I didn’t take it. It’s going to be fun and good competition for me.”
Wester becomes the latest in a line of former CCHS tennis players to move on to Gadsden State, including Zack Highfield, Scott Bates, Jacob Smith and Granger Surrett. Wester passed up a four-year academic scholarship to the University of Alabama to play for the Cardinals.
“Joel is a super-quality kid from a super-quality family,” said Gadsden State tennis coach Buster Stewart. “He’s a really good athlete with a lot of upside. He’s also a good character kid who does very well in the classroom. Joel seems to be highly motivated and I’m looking really forward to working with him. I would say that he’s a basketball player first and a tennis player second, but we’re going to see if we can change that.”
According to the school’s website, the GSCC tennis team finished in the Top 25 eight times and the Academic Top 10 nine times in the past 11 seasons. They have claimed two conference championships, seven runner-up finishes and two third place finishes in that time, including a third-place finish in this year’s Alabama Community College Conference Tournament in May.
“They’ve had some good teams, and I know they have some good players,” said Wester. “I’ve played against a few of them and competed with them. I think we’re going to have a good team next year. I think we’ll have a chance to make it to nationals and play in our (conference) championship. I think it will be fun. We play a lot of four-year universities. We’re going to play a lot of good competition to get us prepared for our conference teams.”
Messenger editor Chris McCarthy contributed to this article.