Lakeside High School senior Kay Barksdale grew up playing a variety of sports.
At age 11, she narrowed her focus to tennis. She was honored Monday during a ceremony at Lakeside after earning a tennis scholarship to Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
Those who know her believe if she had picked another sport years ago, she would be in a similar situation.
"She's an athlete," said West Lake Country Club tennis pro Dave Gleason, who has worked with Barksdale throughout her high school career. "She just picked tennis, but I think she could excel in any sport she put her mind to."
Barksdale has played No. 1 singles for the Panthers since she stepped on the court as a freshman. She didn't drop a regular-season region match in the past three years.
Lakeside tennis coach Donnie Burch had to stop himself after running down a long list of Barksdale's attributes.
"Just name it. Pick a category," Burch said. "She's awesome."
Barksdale is ranked No. 14 in Georgia in the United States Tennis Association Girls 18 rankings. She travels to tournaments once or twice a month.
During spring break, Barksdale finished second in singles at the Georgia-Florida State Championship in Valdosta, Ga. She and partner Jessica Taylor finished first in the doubles competition.
Gleason said doubles has been one of the most improved aspects of Barksdale's game.
"When I started working with her, she didn't like to play the net a lot," Gleason said. "Now, she loves the net."
Barksdale said she had always targeted Georgia College and State, a Peach Belt Conference school, because her sister played for the Bobcats. She said she received interest from other schools, including Converse College, but that Georgia College and State was her only visit.
"I just think it's a fun little college town," Barksdale said. "There's a lot of cool places to eat. A lot of my friends and sister's friends go there."
Barksdale and the Panthers girls tennis team recently captured the Region 3-AAAA title and have advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
When their run ends, Barksdale's attention will shift to college tennis. She will continue to travel to various tournaments in the Southeast.
"I just want to help the team out, improve my game," Barksdale said of her impending college career. "It's a whole other level than anything I've played."
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