Courtney Mudge will be the first to tell you that “she plays tennis like a boy.”Since she first picked up a racket competitively, when she was about 5 years old, she has been trying to emulate her older brother, Robbie Mudge.He was not only a high school tennis standout and junior circuit star at Statesville Christian, and a state champion at Winston-Salem’s R.J. Reynolds High, he is currently the No. 1 player on N.C. State’s men’s tennis team.“I’ve been going to my brother’s matches and watching him play since I was, like, 3 years old,” Courtney Mudge said. “I’ve always looked up to him and wanted to play like him. So, it’s really no surprise that I play like a boy because that’s all I have really ever known.”Their mom, Julie Mudge, says Courtney’s style is no mistake.“Courtney learned so much from her brother, I don’t think she could play any other way,” Julie Mudge said. “She is very aggressive and likes to hit the ball very hard, especially with her serve and forehand. It’s worked very well for her.”Courtney Mudge, 17, has also learned the game from some of the area’s best instructors, beginning at the Randy Pate Academy in Statesville. She now trains at the Lake Norman Tennis Academy under her coach, Scott Tucker, and her mom, Julie, who is the director of the academy.Courtney Mudge has had a lot of success on the junior circuit. She was No. 1 in the state as a 10-year old, and has stayed in the top 10 in her age group since.While her accomplishments have been many, her best recent result was a runner-up finish at the spring state closed championships in the girls’ 16-under singles division.Courtney has also excelled on her high school team at the Community School of Davidson, where she has dominated most of her competition, losing only one match in three seasons. That came earlier this month to Lake Norman Charter’s Hannah Archer, the defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A state singles’ champion.Mudge beat Archer twice last year, both in the regular season, but Mudge and her CSD team were not eligible for the postseason until they became an official Athletic Association member this year.Mudge is eager to prove she can win a 1A state singles’ crown, which would also help live up to her family’s tradition.Her father, Dave, won a state diving championship when he was in high school in Virginia, while her older sister, Michelle, won a 4A diving state title at Huntersville’s Hopewell High. Of course, Robbie pulled off the same feat in tennis at R.J. Reynolds.“I think it’s really cool that so many people in my family have been state champions,” said Courtney Mudge, whose mom also played lacrosse at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I’m just trying to make sure I can be a part of the group and win a state championship of my own.”While Courtney Mudge has lofty individual goals, she is also a great teammate, according to CSD tennis coach Crystal Hamilton, and loves being part of a team in a sport that is often very individual.Mudge is a part of an improving Spartan team – they’re 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the Southern Piedmont 1A – with players like senior Allie Grainda (her most common doubles’ partner), juniors Brianna DiCristofaro, Anna DeGrauw and freshmen Marisa Deininger and Eliza Robinson also figuring heavily in the mix.“There’s not a team out there that wouldn’t want to have a Courtney Mudge on their roster,” Hamilton said. “She’s not only a great player, but she is a great teammate, who will help anyone, but who is quiet and easygoing and leads by example, for the most part.”While Courtney Mudge has accomplished a lot, her mom says she is very hard on herself and compares herself to the best of the best, including her brother.“I don’t think Courtney even knows how good she really is,” Julie Mudge said. “She has seen so much great tennis, from her brother to tennis on a national level, that her perspective of talent is completely different than most players.”For now, Mudge is focused on continuing to be the best player she can be, both at CSD and junior play.She also is very committed to her academic prowess, where she has a 4.3 grade-point average.While she will likely have the opportunity to play college tennis, Courtney says she is still trying to decide if that is the direction she wants to go in.“I love tennis, and the tennis court has always been a place where I am most happy,” Courtney said. “I feel like it would be a lot of fun to play college tennis and be a part of a team. But I’m still making that decision, and it’s a big decision for me.”In the meantime, Courtney Mudge is focusing on the task at hand at CSD, where she hopes to add her already impressive resume.Mudge still gets regular advice and even tips from her brother.“He (Robbie) has always been my inspiration, because he has such drive and talent,” Courtney said. “It’s exciting that I have opportunity to try to accomplish just some of the same things he did.”
Monday, Sep. 23, 2013
Mudge living up to her family tradition on the tennis court
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com .
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