By wpengine

It didn’t take Carly Earnhardt long to commit to her college of choice once she took her official visit to Cumberland last October.

It was an easy decision for her, and one the Mt. Juliet High senior wanted to make quickly.

“To have the opportunity to go to school on scholarship and play college tennis so close to home is awesome and a dream come true,” said Earnhardt.

Although Earnhardt only started playing competitive tennis just three years ago, she entered her final season at Mt. Juliet as one of the top senior players in Tennessee and one of the winningest girls in MJHS history with a combined overall 53-7 singles and doubles record. Much of Carly’s success comes from the instruction of high school coach Mike Hurley, who was just recently inducted to the Tennessee Tennis Hall of Fame.

“I’m so thankful to have Coach Hurley as my coach. He constantly pushes me to be my best. I would not be where I am today without his guidance and support…..He is an awesome coach,” says Earnhardt.

Hurley has been with the Mt. Juliet program for 21 years and has had the opportunity to coach many great players including his sons Matt and Kevin.

“I’ve been fortunate that the faculty at MJHS starting with Linda McDearman, then Derek Elwell and now Mackenzie Underwood have allowed me to participate with the school tennis program for so many years,” Hurley said. “Mt. Juliet has been blessed with many fine tennis players but truly what draws one to work with these kids is how terrific they are as individuals on and especially off the court. Just great people – like Carly.

It’s no surprise Earnhardt has been so successful on the court in just three short years.

“I’m blessed to have such athletic parents and brothers,” says Earnhardt. “My mom & dad actually workout with me on a regular basis, and my oldest brother Collin is my personal trainer at our gym.” Collin and Brady were football and track standouts at Mt. Juliet, and like their dad, went on to play collegiately. Hurley pointed out several reasons for Carly’s success.

“The secret to Carly’s success is really no secret, it’s a supportive family, supportive coaches and personal passion,” Hurley said. “Without family (Jay, Cheri, and Carly’s brothers) these results just would not happen. As a player I have rarely seen her fatigue.  She is amazing at recovering and being refreshed and ready to go even after a tough three-set match in 90-plus-degree weather.  This is a true compliment to her dedication to off court training so necessary to be able to get to the next level. As a student of the game she is again at the top.  Very willing to put in the time to acquire new skills and more importantly not shy to ask questions when unsure of something. In competition you would be foolish to underestimate Carly by just her appearance.  Though she is just above the 5-foot line the competitive fire within her has taken down some very good players to date. “

Earnhardt was the first commitment to the 2019 Cumberland class and shut down her recruiting quite early in the process just after coach Karen Martinez offered.

“It was so important to me to remain close to my family,” Earnhardt said. “I knew after meeting Coach Martinez, her husband Thiago and most of the current players, Cumberland was the best place for me.”

Earnhardt will enter Cumberland in the summer after graduating with a 4.0 grade-point average and 18 dual enrollment hours to her credit.

This summer, she will be playing in several USTA and UTR tournaments, including the Tennessee and Georgia State Championships. In July, she will again play in the Adidas All-American tournament and combine in Orlando, Fla., where last year she was 2-1 in tournament play and placed 15th out of 64 in the collegiate combine event. She has been training with her mom, dad, Collin, and Curtis Grah (strength coach MJHS football) to win the 2019 event.