Jemison tennis players sign with Faulkner University

Friends and family: Jemison tennis players (seated, from left) Bryan Cochran, Jake Long and Andrew Morton held a ceremony to announce their intentions to play college tennis for Faulkner State University. The players were joined by (clockwise from far left) John Long, Gina Crim, Faulkner coach Ritchie Dulaney, Jemison coach Benton Morton, Cindy Morton, Frances Skelton, Jimmy Skelton and William Morton.

Friends and family: Jemison tennis players (seated, from left) Bryan Cochran, Jake Long and Andrew Morton held a ceremony to announce their intentions to play college tennis for Faulkner State University. The players were joined by (clockwise from far left) John Long, Gina Crim, Faulkner coach Ritchie Dulaney, Jemison coach Benton Morton, Cindy Morton, Frances Skelton, Jimmy Skelton and William Morton.

After six years of playing varsity tennis together, Jemison seniors Jake Long and Andrew Morton are looking forward to more.

Long, Morton and Bryan Cochran held a ceremony Wednesday at the school to announce their intentions to play college tennis at Faulkner University.

Long and Morton met while in the fifth grade and became fast friends.

Andrew Morton and Jake Long started on the Jemison tennis team as seventh graders.

Andrew Morton and Jake Long started on the Jemison tennis team as seventh graders.

Long had never played tennis before, while Morton had strong ties to the sport, with his father as Jemison’s coach and brothers who also played.

The pair made the JHS team as seventh graders. Morton competed at the No. 5 singles position, Long at No. 6, and at No. 3 as a doubles team.

Their friendship and success on the court only grew.

Morton compiled a 78-5 record in six seasons, while Long’s record was 78-8. As a doubles team, they went 75-7.

In their last three seasons, Morton competed at the No. 1 singles position, Long at No. 2 and the doubles team at No. 1.

The doubles team was runner-up at the state tournament in the No. 3 position during Long’s and Morton’s freshman season.

“They have heart,” JHS coach Benton Morton said about what allowed the two to enjoy so much success. “They just never gave up, no matter what the odds were.”

Benton Morton also pointed to the players being willing to push each other on the court, even during times when mandatory practices weren’t being held.

With Andrew Morton the strong, hard-hitting player, and Long using more finesse to wear down opponents, Benton Morton said the two complemented each other well as doubles partners.

“Good doubles partners just have a sixth sense: They just know where the other one is going to be,” Benton Morton said. “It’s hard to pick doubles partners. They kind of have to pick themselves.”

Andrew Morton said he and Long visited Faulkner University for tryouts in April, and had the opportunity to meet their future teammates.

“It’s just a small, friendly college,” Morton said. “They were excited about us coming.”

Long credited the coaching of Benton Morton and the support of teammates for helping him go from a tennis newcomer to a player extending his career to the college level.

He said he’s excited to be doing that at Faulkner.

“It seemed like a family place, and the players that we talked to really seemed to enjoy it down there,” Long said.

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