Athlete of the Week: NMB’s Childress serves team first

Taylor Childress was excited to learn that she is the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week, but she didn’t have much time to celebrate.

When the contest ended with her receiving more than 8,000 of the 12,544 votes cast, she was (what else?) playing in a tennis tournament.

The North Myrtle Beach High sophomore took time out from her hectic schedule at the K-Swiss Kiawah Island Junior Nationals, where she and her playing partner finished second in Girls 16 Doubles, to chat. But then again, the time she puts in on the tennis court is a big reason she won the award.

With all the individual honors and accolades that have been bestowed on Childress, she prefers to think of tennis as a team sport. Childress and her Lady Chief teammates face a key showdown against region rival Myrtle Beach on Tuesday, and her focus is on helping her team to victory.

“My long-range goals are to improve my game and get a college scholarship,” said Childress, who is still one year away from being legally contacted by recruiters. “But right now I just want to help my team win.”

Picking up the game at the age of 5, thanks to tennis-playing parents Sam and Gloria, Childress has been the undisputed No. 1 singles and doubles player at North Myrtle Beach since she was a seventh grader.

“My dad started me out early and my mom is a league player too,” said Childress, who plays and trains at Prestwick Country Club. “We’ve always been a tennis family as I long as I can remember.”

Childress led the Lady Chiefs to their first state tournament appearance in more than two decades as a freshman, and she is ready to take North Myrtle Beach to the next level. She is a perfect 12-0 this season in both singles and doubles, along with first-year playing partner Caitlyn Wolf.

A victory over Myrtle Beach would give the Lady Chiefs first place in the conference and the right to host the region tournament for the right to advance to the Lower State and, hopefully, the state champions. Childress will likely be competing at state for singles, doubles and team titles.

“Doubles is more fun because you have a partner to play with and it’s more exciting, but I love the control you have in singles too,” Childress said. “But I like playing both, anything to help my team.”

Photo by Gloria Childress

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