HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS: Wink's Jonnah Smith qualifies for state in two sports - Odessa American: Prepsports

HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS: Wink's Jonnah Smith qualifies for state in two sports

By Peter Dindinger pdindinger@oaoa.com | Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2018 1:17 pm

Jonnah Smith is every coach’s dream student athlete.

No matter the sport, Smith has excelled to the best of her ability.

The Wink sophomore has not only punched her ticket to the state track meet in the 800-meter run, but she has also qualified for the state tennis tournament in mixed doubles with partner CJ Mercier.

Smith qualified for state in tennis as a freshman, reaching the semifinal round in singles play.

In the fall, Smith finished 16th at the state cross country meet. In addition, she was named Co-Most Valuable Player in District 2-2A basketball. She also earned district MVP honors in volleyball.

The goal this year is to win a medal in either track or tennis. Her first chance at hardware is at 5:20 p.m. Saturday as she runs around the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

“It means a lot to me, and (specifically), it’s like at the beginning of the year since I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in cross country, I can like redeem myself in track and tennis,” Smith said. “Singles is a lot harder and I think this year we have a better chance of actually getting a first or second-place medal.

“Last year I didn’t do as good as I thought I was going to in tennis. This year I wish to get more than a third place medal.”

Playing with Mercier, a senior, has been a blessing in disguise. Mercier has been to state three out of his four years.

Mercier won a state doubles title at the 1A level in 2016 alongside Donavan Garcia.

“He has a lot of high expectations for me, so I have to step up to his level, and it’s honestly been a great opportunity for me this year being a sophomore and seeing that kind of level,” Smith said about playing with Mercier.

Mercier and Smith are set to play Mount Enterprise’s Courtney Parsley and Jase Bell in the quarterfinals of the state tournament May 17 at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station.

Wink’s Brooke Carmen and Laura Rodriguez are also going to the state tournament where they will compete in doubles.

“It’s great to go to state,” Mercier said. “I hope we get first because I really want it again. I want to have the mixed doubles and boys’ doubles (titles).”

It’ll be tough for Mercier and Smith to excel at state, but they’ve already endured a lot to get to this moment in the season.

“I think they’ve done really well,” Wink head tennis coach Wendy Ratliff said. “The first couple of tournaments they kind of struggled with just chemistry.

“Honestly, the last probably six tournaments they’ve actually won. They got a lot of good stuff going for them. It’s going to be a tough road I think, but they’ve gotten there.”

>> BRIGHT FUTURE: Considering how much success Smith has had at such a young age, the sky is the limit for her.

“Well, considering how much success she’s had, she’s probably one of the hardest workers,” Wink track coach Whitney Funke said. “She’s had success in everything, and a lot of kids would settle for that and that would be good enough.

“Not her. She’s the first one in the gym; she’s the last one out every day. The kid does everything and still finds success in everything. She’s everything you want in an athlete. The sky’s the limit for her.”

Smith has had a rivalry with Iraan’s Emily McGhee in the 800-meter run. Smith took second at the Region I-2A meet.

The obvious goal is to win a medal, but, win or lose, Smith has risen to the occasion and proven herself in more ways than one.

“Jonnah is a very hard worker. She’s very humble,” Ratliff said of her daughter. “She leads by example. She’s not very vocal, but she definitely sets the presence and makes people know what it’s like to work hard.

“Sometimes I think it’s really hard on her, but I think she’s rose to the occasion.”

>> Follow Peter Dindinger on Twitter @OA_PDindinger