At one point in her sophomore year, Alivia Livesay decided she might have an opportunity to play tennis at the collegiate level.
At roughly the same time, Polk County head tennis coach Richard Davis reached a similar conclusion.
Thus began a quest that reached fruition Friday as Livesay signed a letter-of-intent to play tennis at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio., making the decision official in a ceremony before family and friends in the school library.
Livesay will head to Wittenberg after a stellar senior season in which she claimed the Western Highlands Conference singles title and was named the conference player of the year. She advanced to the state 2A tournament after going 3-1 in Western Regional tourney action. Livesay also won three WHC doubles titles in her Wolverine career.
“I’m so excited,” Livesay said. “I’ve known I wanted to play college tennis since my sophomore year. I finally decided Sunday where I wanted to go and I can’t control my excitement.”
Livesay considered Lenoir-Rhyne as well as Wittenberg, a Division III school which competes in the North Coast Athletic Conference against schools in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Livesay plans to pursue a degree in marketing.
“I fell in love with it,” she said of the school. “I had thought about Lenoir-Rhyne since my freshman year, but I really wanted a whole new start. They have a really good business program, which is what I want to do. I felt at home there. Everyone is so nice.”
After seeing Livesay enjoy early success playing No. 4 and No. 5 singles, Davis decided to move Livesay to No. 1 singles early in her Polk career, knowing she might eventually win a conference title while preparing her for a possible college career. Livesay outlasted Owen’s Katie Craig in the WHC tournament final in October to earn that individual crown.
“She had been playing the number four position, and I just made a decision her sophomore year, knowing it would be tough for her, to play number one,” Davis recalled. “I know it was disheartening to lose when she had been playing four and five and winning, but I told her that in the long run, this would get her in college one day. That was where she needed to be playing the competition.
“She’s a first-class girl. I couldn’t ask for a better practice player, a more consistent player or a better competitor. She has high standards, but she stays on an even keel. She knows how to win and how to lose, how to lose with grace and win with dignity. She’s been a pleasure and a joy to coach, and I’m going to miss her dearly.”
In addition to Davis, Livesay thanked coaches Bobby Garrett, Edgar Rodriguez and Cary Davenport for their help.
“I also want to thank my family for their support,” she said.
“In my sophomore year I decided that tennis was something I wanted to do in college, and then in my senior year I really pushed hard to get to this point. I’m so excited and happy and can’t wait.”