Jul. 10—A year's improvement paid off for Faith Christian tennis standout Eli Mitchell.
For winning the No. 1 singles division at the Red Wilder Invitational, the de facto Calhoun County championship, Mitchell is The Anniston Star's Calhoun County player of the year for boys tennis.
The sophomore beat Oxford's Dev Patel 10-1 in the final at Oxford Lake and went on to finish 8-4 on the year. He and doubles partner Josh Goode, Faith's No. 2 singles player and also a Red Wilder winner, finished 8-3 together.
Mitchell also reached the second round at sectional.
Mitchell's No. 1 singles victory at the Red Wilder came a year after he won the No. 3 singles title.
Question: Now that you've had a chance to look back on the season, what are your thoughts about it?
Answer: I thought it was a great season. I really got to improve and play with my team, and I really enjoyed it.
Q: How do you think you improved this season?
A: My serve got a lot better, just with consistency, and I just became more comfortable playing.
Q: What was your proudest moment?
A: I guess the county-tournament win. That was just a lot of fun to get to play in. It's all the kids from our area, and it just gave me a chance to play against good competition. Everybody got better, so it's good to see the improvement in everyone.
Q: Though Oxford won the team title, you and Josh won singles and doubles titles. What did that mean for a small school like Faith?
A: It's great. We've got a great group of kids that are always getting out there and practicing. It's good to see the hard work is paying off.
Q: What are your goals for next year?
A: Just to continue to improve. Hopefully, me and my team will be able to make it to the state tournament.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.