Misner making string music on court

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2001

Stuart Misner plays a high-powered style of string music withhis tennis racquet. Regarded as the best 16-year-old tennis playerin Mississippi, Misner plans to use his tightly-strung racquet toconquer some giants from other states in the Boys Super Nationalsat Kalamazoo, Mich.

Misner’s mission is a difficult assignment but he has talent andexperience on his side of the net. He is ranked No. 5 in the Southin 16s. He played in last year’s Nationals at Kalamazoo but made anearly exit.

“I’m excited about going,” said Misner. “I have confidence in mygame. I have worked hard the last year on my serve andstrengthening my backhand.”

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Misner cruised through his sophomore high school season atBrookhaven and didn’t play singles after winning a state title as afreshman. Instead he played boys doubles and helped Brookhavenbring home a Class 4A State Tournament championship.

In June, he breezed through the opposition in the Boys 16s StateJunior Qualifying Tournament and advanced to the Southern Closed inAtlanta last month. He hit a stumbling block in the opening roundand lost to No. 3 seed Bob Cameron of Tennessee 7-5, 7-5.

Displaying a fiery, competitive spirit, Misner rebounded to winfive matches in the back draw (consolation), defeating five seededplayers. “I was kind of the underdog. I was pleased to beat seedswho were higher than me. I had to raise the level of my game.

“My serve started to get a little better,” and Misner playedwhat he called, First Strike Tennis. “If you punish the first ballyou can open up the court and be more aggressive with your secondand third shots. It gives you an advantage over your opponent.”

His impressive comeback at Atlanta was orchestrated by a strongpaternal influence. Stuart’s father, David, is his coach and healso serves as tennis teaching professional at the BrookhavenCountry Club.

“Stuart didn’t play well at Atlanta,” explained David. “Hisconfidence was shaken. He had not played a lot of tough matches,”leading up to the event.

“After he lost, we went out and hit some balls and served some,”he continued. “We talked about the game. The next morning Stuartwent out and bombed a higher-seed opponent (Andrew Felsenphall ofMemphis) 4-0,” meaning 6-4, 6-0.

Obviously, the Misners have a special father-son relationship.”Stuart honors me on the tennis courts,” said his dad. “I think heis the most respected guy in the South. He is still a warrior onthe courts.”

Sportsmanship and a Christ-like attitude are important to fatherand son alike. “The Lord has honored me with Stuart. My role as afather is a lot more important than being a tennis coach. Tennishelps him grow as a man.”

Stuart agreed. “It definitely gives me a chance to witness.”

Looking at the Nationals, Misner will be among 164 playerspursuing the championship. He compares the venue to Wimbledon.

Misner said he won’t be intimidated by the talented field. “It’sall mental because everybody there has a great game. Let thatperson (opponent) fear me and me not fear him.”

Stuart and his dad departed Tuesday afternoon by Amtrak. They’llrent a car in Chicago and drive to Kalamazoo. His first match willbe either Friday or Saturday, depending upon the draw.

He is taking five racquets to Michigan. He prefers a Wilson ProStaff 6.1 graphite model.

More String Music

Misner is a member of a teenage Christian praise band,”Last Breath.” He plays the drums.

BHS teammate Lane Lofton plays rhythm guitar and is thegroup’s lead vocalist. Josh Brister plays the electric guitar andserves as backup vocalist. John Cannon plays bass guitar andStephen Fisk plays the keyboard.

“With our music, we want people to worship and praiseour holy God,” said Misner. “We want to lead people toChrist.”