Moving on

Anna Knepper (center) signed a letter-of-intent to play tennis at Wallace State-Hanceville during a ceremony Thursday.

PELL CITY -- Anna Knepper signed a-letter-of intent to play tennis at Wallace State-Hanceville.

The ceremony was Thursday in the Center for Education and Performing Arts Building on the campus of Pell City High School.

“It is really exciting,” Knepper said. “It is good to know that all of my hard work paid off. I am excited to say that I experienced this. There were some times that I wanted to throw it all away, but I stayed committed, and it was worth it. I am really happy.”

Knepper said she knew Wallace State-Hanceville was the place for her after she visited the campus.

“My coach (Sarah Stewart) called them down to watch me play, and they liked what they saw,” Knepper said. “I toured their school and I really liked what I saw. Everything was together, they were very open and they had what I wanted to major in. It is a really nice school.”

Wallace State head tennis coach Tony Franklin said he was impressed with Knepper’s work ethic and attitude when he saw her for the first time.

“Anna is going to be a great addition to our team,” Franklin said. “I came down to Pell City to watch her practice one day with Sarah (Stewart). Coach (Tim) Garner, my assistant coach, and I were very impressed with the way she worked that day. She was at the Auburn University tennis camp this summer, and I worked the week that she was there. The whole week, her attitude and work ethic was great.

“That is what we look for with our kids coming to Wallace. We want kids that want to work hard, we want kids that enjoy being on the court no matter what the temperature is. They love it. She is going to be a great player for us.”

Franklin said he is going to work hard with Knepper and make sure she has the opportunity to play at four-year program after she leaves Wallace State.

“Anna hasn’t reached her full potential yet,” he said. “We go by UTR (Universal Tennis Rating) … and right now she is a five. I hope in our two years, I can get her up to an eight or nine, so she will be able to move on to a four-year school from Wallace State.

“That is always my goal. The kids that want to go to play at a four-year (institution), I work with them and try to get them to that level. That’s what we want for Anna.”

Pell City head coach Jennifer Lee said Knepper is deserving of this accomplishment.

“I am excited for her because she has put in a lot of time,” Lee said. “She has been taking lessons from Sarah for the past five or six years. Even this summer, she was at clinics with the boys. She has put in the time and she has done what it takes to get to the next level.”

Knepper describes her game as defensive. The senior said she admires the game of all-time great Serena Williams.

“She started from nothing and she’s great,” Minor said. “It shows you that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you always have an opportunity to be good and get where you want to be.”

Knepper plays tennis year around in the UTR and the USTA (United States Tennis Association) circuits. She said she is grateful for everyone who played a role in making her dream of playing on the next level a reality.

“I would like to thank Sarah Stewart and Bronson Tucker,” she said. “They have helped me out and supported me. They are really amazing coaches, and I wouldn’t be here without them. I would also like to thank my parents.”