Eupora's Hernandez to play tennis at Holmes Community College

Richie Hernandez, seated middle
Staff Writer

Led by new tennis coach Randee Jernigan this season, the Eupora Eagles are soaring to new heights.
The Eagles took home the Class 2A, Region 2 championship this season as a team and several singles and doubles accolades along the way. No player was quite as big as Richie Hernandez in his final year as a competitor in Eupora.
Hernandez was the district champion the last two years in singles and mixed doubles. He also helped the team get to the second round of the Class 2A State championship as a team and personally achieved the same distinction himself in singles.
What’s stood out to Jernigan the most, however, is how Hernandez grew as a leader for the team and helped push them to the next level. By the end of the year, they were competing for a state title.
“It’s been real neat to see Richie grow as a player and a person just how he can reach out to the younger athletes and push them,” Jernigan said. “He’s really been one of those role models that we need so that the other players understand what their goal is.”
On Friday, Hernandez realized a lifelong dream of playing college tennis when he signed papers with Holmes Community College. It was an overwhelming, yet fulfilling moment for the senior as he closed out the chapter of life in high school and prepares for junior college.
“Tennis has always been a dream and the game itself has just been a big blessing for me,” Hernandez said. “I never thought I’d be playing tennis in college. I’m very excited. Holmes’ coach is a great coach that can really improve my game.”
The signing was the realization of the hard work put in by Hernandez over the years.
Jernigan has seen it first-hand. Over the last year, she’s watched the talented tennis star put in long hours at the courts improving his craft and it led him to trophies and ultimately a college scholarship. It’s something that Jernigan said was well-deserved.
“I’m super excited for Richie,” Jernigan said. “He’s put so much time in on those courts pushing himself. He’s a really internally motivated athlete and I know that any chance he gets, he’s always going to be trying to do something better on the court.”
Hernandez is the second Eupora tennis player to move on to the next level this season as Madison Hester signed with Meridian Community College earlier this season.
Jernigan is proud to see players heading to college to continue their careers, not only for her program but for the two individuals and the school.
It’s something that she’s going to use with her players in the future to motivate them to be the best they can be.
“I’m excited for them," Jernigan said. "Any avenue that you can use to further your education but do something fun along the way is great. Having someone come from this program and this town and actually achieve a dream is something I’ll be using in the future.”