One of the top tennis players at JCHS of the last decade, Wade Tugman is also a great student and person and the three put together has allowed him to take his game to the next level.
The senior standout signed a letter of intent to play collegiately at Milligan College in Elizabethton this fall.
Tugman is the first boys tennis player at JCHS to sign a letter of intent since Adam Cornett signed with Virginia Intermont in 2003 ironically under the same coach in Ron Worrell.
Ive watched Wade the last few years play with his teams and have seen him take lessons from Coach (Marvin) Glover and Ive been very impressed with his progress, Worrell said. I think Wade has progressed more quickly than any high school tennis player I have been aware of in the last 10 years. Im very impressed with way he handles his strategy and has grown into a fine tennis player.
Tugman didnt start playing tennis until he was in the eighth grade, but Worrell has always liked his potential.
Theres a tremendous growth in athletes tennis game their senior year and then growth from there to their first year of college is twice that because of the level they have to play at, Worrell said. The teammates that they are hitting with are usually better than their high school teammates. Certainly Wades potential is great and I cant wait to get him down there in our program.
Tugman will be a perfect fit at Milligan as he carries a 4.0 G.P.A. and is valedictorian of his senior class. He should also shine on the tennis courts as he has played in two District Finals and has advanced to regionals twice.
Milligan has good academics and has a good atmosphere, Tugman said. I think it will be a good environment for tennis also. They have really good coaches and everybody on the team is very easy to get along with.
The decision to attend Milligan was made easier by the relationship with former Lady Buffs head coach Marvin Glover.
Tugman took lessons from Glover and has been to several of his matches.
Glover is a math professor at Milligan who is now helping Coach Worrell.
I was around Milligan a lot and have always been around the school, Tugman said. It just seemed like a good a fit. I talked to a couple of other schools, but Milligan was always my first choice.
Actually, a lot of Longhorn fans probably thought a couple of years ago that Tugman would be signing a basketball scholarship.
Tugman was a four-year varsity player, but suffered several injuries that put a damper on his career.
Tennis has been a different story and by last year, became the sport he was going to take to the next level.
Tugman played in U.S.T.A Tournaments, including one at The Ridges last summer.
Now, his hard work has paid off in the form of a college scholarship.
Ive spent a lot of time on the tennis courts in the summer and just whenever I can, Tugman said. If I wasnt doing basketball I would be doing tennis. The tournaments let me know when the next level was and where I needed to improve. The extra competition has helped me a lot.
As far as his talent, Tugman gives a lot of the credit to Coach Glover for helping me hone his skills.
Coach Glover taught me most of everything I know, Tugman said.
Tugman would not be where he is today without the support of his family as his parents, Joe and Sally Tugman and brother Carlton, also a member of the JCHS tennis team, has been by his side through thick and thin.
My parents have been very supportive of me playing tennis and they take me to lessons and tournaments and without them I wouldnt have had the chance to go out and do the things to get better.
JCHS Director of schools Morris Woodring has been a friend of the Tugmans for a long time and is so proud of Wade.
We are proud of Wade for what hes done on the tennis court, but also what hes done in the classroom, Woodring said. We like to see students excel in both.
Though a couple of kids have played college tennis since JCHS head coach Steve Nave has been under helm, this is the first official signing for a Nave-coached player.
Nave knows last Tuesday was a great day for his program.
I couldnt be more prouder of Wade, he said. This is a testament to his hard work in class and in tennis and he is going to be a great asset to Milligan College.
Nave saw the potential in Tugman at very young part of his career.
I saw the potential when he was a freshman, he said. Hes gotten better every year and hes worked hard all summer and every summer. Thats what it takes. You cant just be a great tennis player by coming to practice; you have to work on your own. He plays tournaments and plays every day. Thats what it takes.
Nave has noted most of all what a good quality person Tugman is.
Wade has great character and thats probably his best quality more than his athletic ability, he said. He possesses the highest of character.
Glover echoed Naves sentiments about Wades character, along with brother Carlton.
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