The grind of junior tennis paid off in a big way for Kylie Duckworth on Thursday.
Duckworth’s years of traveling across the country to tennis events led to her signing a national letter of intent during a ceremony at Westminster. She’ll play for Tennessee.
“It makes everything worth it,” Duckworth said. “The whole junior grind, it’s a lot of traveling for not a lot of recognition, not a lot of acknowledgment. It’s kind of like the icing on the cake, working hard for so long.”
Duckworth has been a staple for Westminster’s girls tennis program under coach Leisa Tebbs. After reaching the GISA Class AAA individual state finals match in 2015, she returned in 2016 and finished the job for the individual state title along with a team title.
She took part in more Westminster history by repeating as team state champions in 2017.
Duckworth still has a year left for the Lady Wildcats, but her future beyond high school is now set in ink. The standout said she chose Tennessee for its family atmosphere among the team and the program’s support of her academic goals. She plans to major in biology before pursuing medical school.
“I saw a lot of community with the girls and coaches,” she said. “They support each other really well, especially academics. I know some of the programs, they don’t let you major in certain things or do certain things, and this program is really supportive of my academic goals as well as my athletic goals. Plus, the facilities are top notch. It was mostly the camaraderie that I felt when I met the team.”
Duckworth has logged plenty of miles and hours to get to her signing day and ink her future to the Southeastern Conference. She was surrounded by family, coaches and classmates as a sense of relief washed over her.
“It’s a lot of traveling, and sometimes you only play two matches and you’re done,” Duckworth said. “There’s a lot of pressure to perform, especially when you’re traveling so much. I finally get to see the fruits of my labor, which is nice.”