Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.”  Hawks Tennis player Clay Cecil exudes a willingness to continue to improve on weaknesses while remaining competitive, quiet, and unassuming.

LCHS English Teacher Katy Cecil (no relation) speaks highly of Clay saying, “He may seem quiet and unassuming, but don’t let him fool you.  He is one of the brightest kids in any group, always drives right to the heart of any theme we are discussing, and has a quick and clever sense of humor.  My dad (Garland Blair) always used to say, watch out for the quiet ones!”

Cecil goes about his daily routine of quietly blending in to the student-athletes of LCHS, however, what separates him from his peers is his respect for everyone he comes in contact with, whether it be administrators, teachers, coaches, opponents, teammates and school peers.  After getting to know him over the last three years, I feel confident I would never hear anyone speak an unkind word about Clay Cecil.  He simply, is a class act.

Tennis Coach Terry Caven was asked what separates Clay from his peers.  “I really think his maturity and understanding of competition is more refined than his peers.  He understands better who to compete and pushes through small setbacks during a match much better than his teammates and most of his opponents.”

Cecil considers himself “a very hardworking person and will do what it takes to make it far in life. I am a very competitive tennis and soccer player who doesn’t give up no matter what. I give 100% every time I step on the court and pitch.”

Caven continues by saying, “Clay certainly has a pleasant as well as quiet demeanor.  He often picks up on small things that other more boisterous demeanors may miss.  However, opponents must be careful not to mistake this quiet demeanor for weakness because Clay is certainly one of the most driven players on our team.  He has a knack for understanding how to compete.  He is a thinker out on the court as well as a superb athlete.”

Cecil is only in his second year of playing Tennis.  “I got started playing tennis last year and I was playing baseball but I just decided that I wanted to try something different and tennis just looked interesting so I decided to give it a try and I’m glad that I did. Tennis to me is a very fun game to play that you can play for the rest of your life. It is a game that I’ll never get tired of. ”

Cecil will be playing #1 singles for the Hawks this season.  Caven says, “This comes in just his second season of playing tennis, so this is definitely going to be a challenge in which he will have to raise the level of his tennis.  Clay’s quickness, speed, and endurance are all standouts among our team.  These physical characteristics combine with his ability to think on his feet to create a players who can almost outwit and outlast any competitor he will face.”

Cecil says that tennis has been a positive move for him.  “Over the past two years of tennis, both of my coaches have been very influential. Coach Caven has taught me everything I know about tennis. Any time that I need help, Coach Caven is there to teach me. Also, Coach (Allison) McDowell is always very supportive and helps me keep my head up out on the court.”

Cecil adds, “My consistency on the court has been much improved throughout the two years. Also, specifically, my forehands have become more accurate and strong. What I like most about tennis is the competition and determination to get to every ball and to win the match.  My expectations for the rest of the season is to win the majority of our team matches and to make it far in regions.”

Cecil has earned the #4 seed in the Conference Tournament for this week.  Caven says, “I believe he will continue to improve on the road to region.  I like Clay’s chances at region especially after he has played a full season of singles.  I think he can give fits to any player he faces at the conference tournament, however I think his singles play will be more refined when we get to region.”

Former LCHS Strength and Conditioning Coach Adam Lindsey noticed Cecil when he played Baseball two years ago.  “Clay struggled to throw a baseball with any velocity.  He would take the conditioning class and gained 40-50 pounds of strength.  I believe that experience changed his outlook on competing in athletics.”

Cecil concurs, “Coach Lindsey has been very influential over the years because I took his strength and conditioning class last year and it really changed my life. He was very supportive and tough on me. Which really helped me gain muscle and become a better athlete.”  Not only does Cecil compete in tennis but he is a two-year varsity starter on the soccer team, and will be expected to be one of the leaders next season for the team.

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