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They’re No. 1

Jerrod Rayborn and Anna C. Moak have put Brookhaven on thetennis map. Both players are ranked No. 1 in Mississippi in USTAJunior Tennis 18 singles. Their lofty ranking was achieved by yearsof competitive tennis and an accumulation of points in USTA juniortournaments.

Brookhaven Country Club tennis pro Alan Taylor said both playersare athletes with a competitive spirit.

“Anna is a real complete player,” said Taylor. “She serves andreturns well. She has big ground strokes and she’s smart, too.”

Asked about Rayborn, Taylor said, “Jerrod is very athletic, veryquick around the court. He has an uncanny ability to get manypoints. He never gives up many points.”

Looking ahead, Taylor will serve as head coach of the BrookhavenAcademy tennis team. The girls are defending state champions.

“We are counting on both of them for their senior leadershipskills this season,” said Taylor. “Both are wonderful individualsto be around. They set a good example for our younger kids.”

In the classroom, Moak and Rayborn excel, too.

Asked about his ranking, Rayborn said, “I feel good about it. Atone point, I was ranked No. 16. It took a lot of time playing andpracticing. Alan Taylor really helped me a lot.”

Every other weekend, Rayborn participated in USTA-sanctionedjunior tournaments, traveling from one end of the Magnolia State tothe other.

Rayborn is also ranked No. 1 in 18 doubles. His chief partnersare Jake Baker of Brookhaven and Mickey Renfroe of Grenada. Insteadof pairs, players are ranked individually.

An all-around athlete, Rayborn plays point guard for the BAvarsity basketball team which is the defending Class AA statechampion. He also runs cross country and is a member of the golfteam.

Rayborn (5-10, 145) said he plans to play tennis on thecollegiate level. “I want to to play tennis at Mississippi College.He is undecided on his major at college.

His parents, Mitch and Rhonda Rayborn, both attended MC.

Tim Henman of England is Rayborn’s favorite professional tennisplayer. “He’s a serve and volley player. I love to watch that.”

Last year, Rayborn was runner-up in Class AA boys singles,falling to Currie Martin of North Delta. “I’ve played him the lastthree years in the state tournament. I was 1-2 against him.”

Looking at BA’s youthful varsity squad, Rayborn said, “Our highschool team is young this year but we should be okay.” TeammateDudley Lampton is ranked No. 2 in Boys 12s.

Anna Chrstilles Moak is a 5-8 senior at Brookhaven Academy. Shehas worked overtime to improve her tennis game and is enjoying thebenefits.

“It’s a good experience,” said Moak. “I’ve never had this happenbefore. All the hard work I’ve put in it has really paid off.”

Asked about her tennis skills, Moak said, “My baseline game isbest. My serve and volley are OK but I’d rather play thebaseline.”

The 17-year-old daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Joe Moak said she mightplay college tennis. “I haven’t decided yet where I’m going tocollege. Either Samford (Ala.), Rhodes (Tenn.), Ole Miss orMC.”

Moak said she plans to major in accounting or business andeventually go to medical school.

Last tennis season, Moak won district, south state and wasrunner-up in state in girls singles.

“My toughest opponent was Sierra Woolrey (of East Rankin),” saidMoak. “We would always meet in South State. She’s a greatplayer.”

Woolrey is now with Meridian Community College. “We were on theDavis Fed Cup junior team.”

Moak said she enjoys watching tennis on television. “My favoriteplayer in the pros is Andre Agassi. He has great character on andoff the court. I like Lindsey Davenport. I’ve always admired hergame.”

Moak, a member of the National Honor Society, also runs for BA’scross country team. “It helps keep me in shape.”

David Misner, Brookhill on Natchez tennis director, said Moakand Rayborn have earned their No. 1 ranking. “They are recognizedfor many years of hard work. It’s a reward that Jerrod and Anna C.earned.”

Misner said Moak and Rayborn find themselves in elite company.”You have to prove yourself in the state before you go to the nextlevel which is the Southern Sectional.”

The top 10 players in Mississippi qualify for southern sectionaltournaments. It involves more travel and stronger competition,too.