Natchez duo serving up rankings for Co-Lin

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2000

WESSON – Natchez’s Jennifer Bearry and Michelle Fisher, both of whom attended and played tennis at Adams County Christian School, are having great success on the tennis courts at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Bearry, a sophomore who played tennis at ACCS in No. 1 singles for seven years, recently received the highest ranking in Co-Lin’s history – No. 9 in the nation in women’s singles.

&uot;I never expected it. I was speechless,&uot; she said. &uot;I was very surprised.&uot;

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Although she said there is greater competition and better players at the collegiate level, Bearry has adapted well to her new environment.

After years as a baseline player, Bearry said she has become more of an all-around player.

&uot;My coach at college (Brenda Smith) helped me out a lot with that,&uot; she said.

Bearry and partner Megan Rogillio also received a double ranking of No. 18 in the nation.

Last year, Bearry made it to the quarterfinals of the fall regional tennis tournament, and in October she made it to the semifinals.

No other Co-Lin singles player had advanced that far in the region. Plus, she was the only American in that final four.

&uot;The other teams had at least two Europeans on their teams,&uot; Smith said.

Fisher, a freshman who played tennis at ACCS for four years, advanced to the finals of the consolation bracket.

&uot;I was excited,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s kind of amazing. I’m surprised I got there.&uot;

She said tennis on the college level is a lot more difficult than on the high school level.

&uot;In high school, I learned the basics of the game,&uot; she said. &uot;In college you learn more of the strategies.&uot;

Smith said she is happy about the way not only Bearry and Fisher are playing, but the team as a whole.

&uot;It’s good to see local kids do well in the national competition,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s just rare to see a local group of girls ranked 15th (by the International Tennis Association) in the nation. We just go with Natchez, Brookhaven and Montecello girls.&uot;

Another person who is excited about the way Bearry and Fisher are performing at the college level is Frankie Spence, their tennis coach when they played at ACCS.

&uot;Jennifer was a good little worker,&uot; he said. &uot;Her senior year she lost some focus because she didn’t have anyone to play with here. She had good work ethics. Michelle was the same way. She was a good little athlete.

&uot;Jennifer has real heavy strokes, kind of like Venus Williams,&uot; he said. &uot;Michelle played a lot of doubles. She’s an all-court player.&uot;

&uot;I’m real happy with both of them,&uot; he said.