Wins follow friendship for Morton, Long

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Andrew Morton comes from a family that includes a father that is a tennis coach and three older brothers who play the sport. Jake Long didn’t pick up a racquet until the fifth grade.

Morton plays aggressively, relying on powerful groundstrokes. Long’s approach is based more on accuracy. Morton is taller with dark hair; Long’s is blonde.

Boys track and field: Austin Haigler, Isabella, Jr.

Girls tennis: Ashley Gothard, Jemison, Sr.

Golf: Forrest Knight, Chilton Co., Fr.

Soccer: Noe Chavez, Chilton Co., Sr.

You get the idea.

Jemison’s No. 3 doubles team has many differences but has enjoyed success because Long and Morton, above all else, are close friends that play unselfishly.

“They have cooperation, chemistry,” Jemison coach Benton Morton said about The Clanton Advertiser’s Boys Spring Players of the Year. “Neither one of them is trying to outdo the other.”

Long and Andrew Morton, both eighth graders, have gone a combined 92-5 in doubles and singles matches in their two-year varsity careers and this past season led the Panthers to their seventh consecutive state tournament appearance under Benton Morton—and scored all of their team’s points in the tournament.

The two started playing together in the fifth grade. Long had never played before and was invited down to the city’s courts one day after school by Andrew Morton, who participated in the varsity team’s daily practices, though not necessarily by choice.

“Andrew, bless his heart, he had to come out there after school because I was his ride home,” Benton Morton said.

Long tagged along occasionally at first but then regularly by the time he and his doubles partner were sixth graders.

They played their first competitive matches together as seventh graders and haven’t looked back.

“We’re best friends,” Long said about the duo’s success, “so we’re able to communicate out there.”