By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
For the second straight year, Alice Lloyd College has reached out to North Laurel to find its newest member of the men’s tennis team.
Friday morning, Justin Maggard signed his letter of intent and will join former teammate Brad Baker on the Eagles’ roster.
“It feels like home,” Maggard said of his decision to attend Alice Lloyd. “The school is close knit with the teachers living on campus so you can get help any time you need it. It was the only college I visited. I didn’t feel like I needed to see any other.”
Alice Lloyd is just in its second year of having a men’s tennis team after not having a program for six years. Coach Dustan Turner feels like Maggard will fit right in, not only with the team, but also the school.
“Justin is a good student and I think he is a good fit for us in building our program,” Turner said. He noted that, like Baker, Maggard will see playing time right away.
“He’ll be playing right off the bat,” Turner said. “Just like Brad did. We are tickled to death to be able to sign kids from the area.”
Turner said Maggard will have to get used to the mental aspect of being in college as his biggest challenge.
“Just being an adult,” Turner said. “As long as he’s willing to work and put forth the effort he’ll do fine. It will be a big step up for him in competition.”
Turner has been playing tennis for five years, and it wasn’t until two years ago that he started to contemplate playing in college. He knows that he still has some work to do on his game to be able to compete at the collegiate level.
“My backhand is streaky,” Maggard said. “And my serve needs to get stronger. I will also need to improve my speed and accuracy.” He feels like volleying is his strength.
“I think he’ll be able to step in right away,” North Laurel tennis coach Bobby Smith said. “I don’t think he lost a match this year in singles. He’s a better doubles player. He and his brother (Sammy) were playing just about as good as anybody in the region except for the top seed. If we could have drawn anyone but the top team they might have qualified for state. At the end of the season, Justin and Sammy were playing just as well as our No. 1 team, Arjun Kanthawar and Spencer Bolton. It was a toss up. They were probably 1A and 1B, it was that close.”
“I just have a love for the game,” Maggard said. “A real passion.”