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Malone wins state tennis title

Russellville has not won a state title in any sport since T.J Drake won a singles title at the state tournament all the way back in 2007, some six years ago.

The drought is finally over, as Drew Malone of the Golden Tigers’ boys varsity tennis team won the number four singles state title.

This title comes after the team won the regional tournament hosted at Russellville

“We went down there Monday and started playing doubles,” Malone said.

“All of our doubles teams made it to the semifinals Thursday. Four of our six singles players made it to the semis, too.

On the second day I was the only one to make it to the finals. All of our other singles players lost in the semifinals. I ended up winning the singles final, and our team finished third.”

Russellville athletics are a huge part of daily life for the city’s residents, and the last two state titles for the school both coming from tennis proves the strength of the program helmed by head coach Jimmy Rea.

Not only are these the last two state titles for Russellville, they are the most recent by any school in Franklin County among major sports.

“I tried to stay focused for the finals and get through it. The final was a three-hour match,” Malone said.

“It was kind of a relief. There has been a lot of hard work that we’ve put in as a team all year.

“Beating Muscle Shoals in the semifinals was big, because we wanted to beat them more than anything.”

The Golden Tigers defeated the Trojans overall in the regionals at Russellville as    well, another likely goal of the team.

As far as Malone’s title is concerned, the senior said the accomplishment has not quite hit home.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet, I guess,” he said.

“We went as a team, and I was going to do what I had to do to put us in a position to win. I remember watching T.J. [Drake] win (in 2007).”

Along with accomplishing such a feat comes the spoils, which extends past just the physical trophy.

It means the admiration and respect of those around you.

“It’s been good. Everyone has been joking around, letting me walk the halls and following me around. They have been congratulating me, and I can’t thank them enough,” Malone said.

As this is Malone’s last year as a Russellville Golden Tiger, the sense of accomplishment is tempered by the fact that it took several years of practice and dedication to get to this level and bring home the ultimate prize.

“It’s big. We have put in hard work every year since my freshman year, every summer and every spring,” he said.

Now, as the last semester winds down for Russellville High School, those students who are graduating must decide what to do next.

Luckily for this young man, his mind is made up about what the future has in store for him.

“I’m going to go to Alabama in the fall,  and I’ll major either in Accounting or Finance,” he said.

“My older brother is at Alabama. He’s majoring in Accounting, and I think I like that field. I like math.”