For Jessica Rumple, tennis is an everyday thing.Whether she is playing or practicing for Statesville Christians girls tennis team, training at the Randy Pate Tennis Academy, or just playing a friendly match with her younger brother Zach, the Mooresville native likes to stay on the court as much as possible.Theres not ever really a day where I dont play tennis some way, said Rumple, who started playing when she was 6 years old and training under Randy Pate when she was 7. Whether Im playing in a match, practicing or just hitting balls, Im playing tennis somewhere.Rumple wasted no time establishing herself as a standout high school tennis player, starting at East Wilkes High and earning the No. 1 spot on her team as a freshman. She lost only twice that season, both in singles matches, and qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Associations 1A Midwest Regionals.As a sophomore, Rumple not only kept the Cardinals top spot but also earned Mountain Valley 1A conference player of the year honors. She also advanced to the NCHSAA 1A state semifinals, where she finished third overall that season.Last year, Rumple returned to Statesville Christian she attended the private school in the third and fourth grades and quickly established herself at the top of the Lions lineup.Rumple actually beat out former Statesville Christian standout Nicki Segur last year for the No. 1 spot early in the season but lost it to Segur in challenge matches, playing No. 2 singles for most of the year.However, Rumple excelled she went 18-1 in singles play and teamed with Segur to go 19-0 in doubles, leading the Lions to their ninth consecutive N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A state championship.Weve been blessed to have a lot of great players over the years at Statesville Christian, and Jessica is another one, said Tim Burgiss, who is in his 11th year as the Lions head coach after starting the program from scratch. Like a lot of our girls, she not only has the skills, but she will do whatever it takes to win. She doesnt like to lose.As Rumple enters her senior year, she has done a lot of winning so far, shes only lost five singles matches in her high school career.Despite standing only 5-foot-2, Rumple does most of her work from the baseline, where she says she prefers to wear down opponents with consistent strokes.Burgiss says Rumple is great at playing the angles, and she says her favorite shot in tennis is a crosscourt winner. Rumple has also developed her serve into a consistent weapon, adding several different versions, according to Burgiss.But the most unique thing about Rumples game is that she hits a two-handed forehand, which is uncommon.Its just something Ive done since I was a little girl, Rumple said. Ive tried to change it to one-hand a few times, but it didnt work for me. So, I just stick with what works.While Rumple played a key role on last years team, she will now be expected to be a leader for the 2013 squad as the only senior among the Lions top six players.Burgiss has given her some duties already, but he knows the usually quiet, shy Rumple will do it in her own way.Im not the type of girl who is going to be out there yelling and screaming, said Rumple, who added she hopes to earn some college interest this season from her top academic choices like Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate. But I will try to encourage my teammates and talk to them when I know they need it.Right now, Rumple is battling for the No. 1 spot with junior Jacklyn Googins, as both players look to push each other to be at their best.Rumple and Googins will also get help from junior Becky Barker (No. 3 for now), seventh-grader Morgan Little (No. 4), eighth-grader Jordan Peters (No. 5), and junior Abby Caudle (No. 6).The Lions look focused as they shut out 4A public school Mount Tabor 9-0 in a scrimmage match this month.The team will face early tests playing at NCISAA 2A state runner-up Gaston Day on Sept. 5 and traveling to face NCISAA 1A state runner-up Greenfield and NCISAA 1A semifinalist Wayne Country Day on back-to-back days (Sept. 13-14).Burgiss hopes a tough schedule will help them be ready to make another championship run in late October. The NCISAA championships will begin Oct. 19, with the final rounds being played at Barton College in Wilson on Oct. 25-26.While Burgiss has won nine state titles and several of his players have three or four championships, Rumple didnt join the club until last year, winning her first.It was pretty awesome, an amazing accomplishment for all of us, Rumple said of winning her first state title. I cant think of any other way that I want to end my high school career that winning it all, again.
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013
Rumple, Statesville Christian Lions gunning for 10th state title
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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