By TOM BONE
BLUEFIELD — How does a gifted athlete follow up on three consecutive state tennis championships?
Chad Kammer Brady’s decision has been to sign up to compete for a nationally-ranked Division I tennis program, in this case Wake Forest University.
It wasn’t a hasty decision. Brady’s mother Alice Ann Brady said, “Chad has wanted to attend Wake Forest since fifth grade, and this is a dream come true.”
“When I first arrived on campus, it was very appealing to me,” Chad Brady said Monday evening. “As I looked into the sports teams, I saw that the tennis team had a very good reputation.”
He is fully aware of the academic side of the Winston-Salem, N.C., institution.
“I know it’s a top-30 school academically,” he said. “I’m used to the student-athlete role. ... I think I’ll be able to handle it pretty well.”
Brady signed on Thursday, according to his longtime coach Steve Sarver. Wake Forest, he said, is “one of the elite academic universities in America” and it fields a “tennis power.”
“Chad has seen his hard work pay off,” said Sarver, a United States Tennis Association professional and a Wake Forest graduate.
The Demon Deacons advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Division I national tennis championships last month, and should enter next season highly ranked as well, Sarver said.
Wake Forest head coach Jeff Zinn will have six of his top seven players returning.
According to Zinn, “Chad has tremendous potential and should benefit from the everyday practice competition ... . We think Chad can make a positive contribution to our program if he takes advantage of his opportunity and works very diligently at his tennis and his conditioning.”
The new recruit said that he felt Zinn is “a great guy and a great coach (and) a very interesting person.”
“I talked with the players and they said he was a great coach not only on the court, but off the court, he’s a great life coach.”
Brady added, “He’s built up the Wake Forest program very well.”
Alice Ann Brady said Monday, “I’m thrilled and very happy for Chad.” She said he attended tennis camp at Wake Forest while in middle school “and just fell in love with the campus. He loved it right from the start.”
“I just think he found it to be a very good fit for him.”
She added, “Chad has a huge challenge, and opportunity, in front of him. He knows he has to train hard. His academics come with that, too. Wake is not an easy school, academically.”
She is not concerned on either front.
“When Chad sets his mind to something, he usually achieves his goal,” she said. “He set his mind to do this, and he has achieved it. But it won’t be without hard work, and commitment.”
“It’s serious. It’s not intramurals. ... They do fall tennis, and they do spring tennis. They play so much in the spring. At the same time, I think it’s good. It keeps him focused.”
He will have the advantage of already knowing many of the members of the tennis team. His mother said that for more than a year, “he has been able to go to Wake Forest and hit, and work out, with some of the players. So he knows what’s expected of him.”
Finishing his senior season on May 16, he defeated Matt Phillips of Charleston Catholic 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 in Charleston for his third straight singles title on the high school level. He also holds back-to-back state doubles championships, and again reached the state finals last month.
Two days earlier, Wake Forest, ranked 18th in Division I, ended its season in Texas with a loss in the NCAA national tournament to No. 6 Baylor. It was the Deacons’ second Sweet 16 appearance in three years.
On May 29, two team members, junior Steven Forman and senior Cory Parr, were named all-Americans by the Intercol-legiate Tennis Association.