One staple of Montgomery Bell Academy’s tennis success over the past five years has been Palmer Campbell.
The lanky 6-foot-2 senior has played in the Big Red’s lineup since the eighth grade. So his is a voice of experience.
Last weekend, during a break in the 38th annual Carter Invitational tournament, he addressed the possibility for MBA to win a third straight TSSAA Division II championship next month.
“I think our chances are good,” Campbell said after a semifinal victory in the tournament, which the Big Red hosted and won. “… The main thing is we’ve got great deal of camaraderie on our team.
“This season’s been a blast. We’re all close. We hang out together and push each other in practice.”
Any pursuit of a team title must wait, though. This weekend is the individual Division II region tournament, hosted by Baylor.
Campbell played No. 4 singles as an eighth grader, No. 3 as a freshman and sophomore, then No. 1 last year. This season, he has played No. 2 behind junior Aaron Jumonville, although the two play competitive practice matches.
After graduation, Campbell is headed to play for Middlebury (Vt.), a school with lots of tennis tradition. The Panthers won the NCAA Division III title in 2004 and 2010. It has advanced at least as far as the national semifinals seven times since 2003.
“They have a great coach in Bob Hansen, a great deal of tradition, and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that,” he said.
With a couple weeks to go in his high school career, he called MBA’s 2010 state championship the number-one highlight — so far.
“We had gone like seven years the last time we won it and to beat our big rival (Chattanooga) Baylor in the finals made it even greater,” he said. “That was a special team. We had Roger Briggs (a Vanderbilt signee) at the top of the lineup, a great leader.
“We were very close, a lot like this year’s team.”
Campbell got to the finals this year’s Carter Invitational — his last — but lost 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to Baylor’s Marko Mandic in arguably the match of the tournament. However, he and Jumonville won the No. 1 doubles title, which helped the Big Red clinch the team crown.