MELISSA – Melissa High School’s new assistant tennis coach Kaylie Brown jumped right into her duties last week, and a busy week it was. Her arrival coincided with Melissa ISD’s four-day tennis camp, June 10-13, with kids - K through 12 - spread across three age-group sessions per day.
Though perhaps a grueling schedule, with 7 a.m. starts and 9 p.m. finishes with a big break in the middle, Brown sounded plenty pleased to be there on Day 2. “I couldn’t be more excited,” she said. “I signed the papers as quickly as I could. I found an apartment today and I’m ready to be here.”
Brown, 24, comes to Melissa by way of Cleveland, Texas, where she coached at Cleveland High School. Before that Brown played varsity tennis for NCAA Division II Harding University in Searcy, Ark. She also has tennis history with third-year Melissa head tennis coach Brad Crawford. Brown played for Crawford at Van High School when he was head tennis coach there. She went on to graduate from Hawkins High School, also in East Texas, in 2013.
“He taught me how to love the game when he taught me how to play the game,” Brown said of Crawford. “Now I’m hoping he can show me the same thing about coaching as well. I look forward to learning from him.”
“She’s just a delightful person,” Crawford said. “She has terrific character and a great work ethic and a great attitude. But she’s also got some really good tennis knowledge. She brings that experience and her youthful exuberance.” He added, “I turn 60 this year. So the sunset is coming on my career. Kaylie’s going to be a terrific person to take over and keep the program building.”
Things are indeed looking up for Melissa tennis. In fall team tennis last year, the Cardinals advanced to the regional quarterfinals of the playoffs. And in spring tennis, the girls placed second in district and sent eight players to regionals while the boys were district champs and sent six to regionals. Doubles partners John Lewis and Jake Fowler also advanced to state as alternates.
Manuel Avila, head coach of Melissa girls soccer, also assisted at camp and will continue his assistant coaching duties in fall tennis. Melissa head basketball coach Eric Benton will still assist in spring tennis for now as well, Crawford said.
MISD tennis camp was held on the courts behind Melissa Middle School, the varsity Cardinals’ home for some time. The school district’s new tennis venue, located at the Melissa Sports Facility on FM 545, is slated to open by year’s end.