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Rolesville tennis star striving to be the best

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ROLESVILLE — To call Jade Houston the best Rolesville High female tennis player in school history is not a back-handed compliment. It is a complement to her backhand. “I love that shot,” Houston said. “I mostly try to hit it to the corners deep, because most people struggle with it there.” Comfortable teeing off from the baseline with her ground strokes, Houston courts phenomenal prep success. The senior posted a 27-3 record as a sophomore then a 14-2 as a junior before beginning her 14-0 tear (8-0 in singles plus 6-0 in doubles) so far this fall. Even more remarkable is the fact that win streak includes a 128-11 count in total games played. Better still, during a recent No. 1 singles seed squabble at Heritage, Houston surrendered only three points altogether while accruing a shutout rout (6-0, 6-0). Two of those rare losses were by double faults on her serve. She has won her singles matches by clean sweeps for three matches in a row. “I’m working on being more consistent,” Houston said, despite the dominant display. “Also focusing my mindset and maintaining my confidence. Sometimes I don’t believe I can do it, but I end up surprising myself.” The off-season Triangle Tennis Academy member usually participates in 50 extra matches per year. The United States Tennis Association ranks her among the top-10 in North Carolina for her age group as well as in the top-250 nationwide. “I haven’t compared my game to anyone else’s,” she said. “I just started when I was 5. When I was that little, I did not like contact sports. So tennis was a good solo choice for me.”

It is not her only achievement activity, however. Houston earns oval ovations galore aboard the track. Last spring her versatile resume packed a Wake County Championships title in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches). Her triple-jump elevated her to second in the eastern 4A region and fifth in the state. Her 400-meter dash ran up third place in the county and fourth place in the region. Those wide-range medals topped a haul at the NAC 6 conference level, too. “I don’t want to get stuck doing one thing and risk burnout,” Houston said. “Besides, track helps me with my tennis.” The dual stardom poses a decision at the next stage. She currently mulls a tennis scholarship to Campbell University alongside a track offer to North Carolina State University. A more present-day target exists in her aim for a North Carolina title. “I think I can do it,” she said. “I know I am going to try my best.” Her finest moments have translated into her program’s finest hours. The Rolesville squad rose to a 7-1 record, with its only setback occurring against league rival Wakefield in a 5-4 nail-biter. Those clubs meet again Oct. 2 at Rolesville with supremacy resting up for grabs. “I’m very proud of my team,” Houston said. “They boost me up. We try to stay together all the time.” With her setting the perfect example, the Rams could certainly ace that big test ahead.