By Dave Link
Bearden High School senior Julia Adams is ready to embark on her college tennis career once she tries to take care of some unfinished business.
Adams has signed a Division I scholarship with Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and wants to leave Bearden with an elusive Class AAA state singles championship.
“I didn’t do what I wanted to do at state,” Adams said last week. “I made it to finals as an individual (in doubles) and as a team, and I wasn’t satisfied with that. I wanted to keep going this year and see how I did.”
Adams and Brittany Foust were state runners-up in 2015, while Bearden’s girls team reached the state championship match in 2015 and 2017. Bearden’s girls were eliminated last week by Catholic, 5-3, in the District 4-AAA “Large” tournament.
Adams’ quest for a state singles title continues Monday and Tuesday in the Region 2-AAA tournament for individuals in singles and doubles. The Class AAA state singles tournament is May 24-25 in Murfreesboro.
Although she won’t be with her teammates if she makes state, Adams is glad she decided to play her senior year of tennis at Bearden. She’s a five-star tennis recruit, and not all of them play for their high schools.
“Of course, I thought about not playing,” she said, “but I love the program, I love the coaches and the girls, and I really want to win state.”
Adams’ recruiting stock soared during her four years at Bearden while playing tournament tennis year-around. She’s rated a five-star recruit by Tennis Recruiting Network, which currently ranks her as the No. 46 player in the nation in the Class of 2018, the No. 8 player in the Southeast, and the No. 1 player in Tennessee.
In 2015, Adams’ highest national recruiting ranking was No. 142. She climbed to No. 90 in 2016 and No. 61 in 2017. She’s 17-0 in singles for Bearden this season, her fourth year playing in the No. 1 spot in the lineup. Her career singles record is 74-6 and her doubles record is 58-3.
“When she was going into her freshman year, her brother (Charlie) was a junior,” Bearden coach Tyler Lane said. “Julia kind of saw what it took to get a college scholarship. Charlie was a very good player, but he was not being recruited by huge schools. She decided if she was going to play Division I tennis, she really needed to take it to another level.”
Charlie Adams, who won the 2015 Class AAA state doubles title with Griffin Davis, now plays at Hillsdale (Mich.) College, an NCAA Division II program.
Julia said her goal of playing Division I college tennis was fueled by financial reasons.
“I’d say like the start of my freshman year I knew I really needed to step it up if I wanted to go to a D-1 school,” she said. “Part of the reason was my dad (Charles) telling my brother and I, he’s going to give us a set number of money for college, and the rest we’re going to have to take out in loans. I knew I had to find a way to pay for my college education, and I’d been playing tennis for so long I knew I wanted to do it as an athlete.
“Also, I just started working a lot harder, I’d say my freshman year, and you can see my ranking jumped a lot, and really all my stats. I started winning a lot more matches and I really started enjoying the game a lot more, my confidence went up, and I fixed some things. After I started winning and I knew I wanted to play college tennis, I just blossomed from there.”
Adams has been playing tennis most of her life. She first picked up a racquet at the age of 4 and started playing tournament tennis when she was 7. Tennis was Adams’ primary sport, although she played soccer every year or so while in elementary school.
“Tennis was my one sport,” she said. “Other than that, I played piano.”
As a youngster, Adams took private lessons from numerous pros in Knoxville, and settled with Rob Cameron of Tennessee Tennis Club and Academy as her coach about five years ago.
“He’s an incredible coach,” Adams said. “You can look at my growth as a player and see it.”
Adams was recruited by multiple colleges and narrowed her choices to Furman, Wofford, and Miami of Ohio.
After taking an official visit to Furman in late August of last year, Adams committed and signed in November.
Academics were a priority for Adams, not to mention the tennis.
“Furman really is a great school,” Adams said. “When I first started looking for schools, I really wanted to find one that had good academics. I thought it was important because you’re going to the school for the school itself. I don’t think the athletics is the No. 1 priority, but then, of course, they have a great tennis team (at Furman). They just won their conference (the Southern Conference tournament for the second consecutive year), so they’re going to the NCAAs, which is awesome. I just want to be on a team that is successful and can get the opportunity to go to the NCAAs and do cool things like that.”