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Central's Avery Ellison will play tennis at Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Apr. 18—CHEYENNE — Avery "Mike" Ellison's tennis recruitment started slowly and required a lot of early effort on his part to get his name, statistics and video out to coaches.

Ellison ended up with plenty of suitors once his recruitment process got going. The Cheyenne Central senior celebrated his commitment to NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Wednesday afternoon.

"Eau Claire had the nicest facility and the most coaches for its men's and women's teams," Ellison said. "There are head coaches for the men's and women's teams, and then seven assistants they share.

"The indoor facility is a quick drive or quick walk from campus, but it's also going to give me the opportunity to continue coaching kids, which is something I've really enjoyed doing here."

Ellison is undecided on a college major, but is considering physical education, with a special education emphasis, or computer science. He used spring break to visit Eau Claire, Wisconsin-Superior and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

"I was looking at Wisconsin schools because my family is from there," Ellison said. "My dad grew up 45 or so minutes away from (Eau Claire). I'll have a lot of support there."

Ellison played one season of singles for Central, placing fourth in the No. 1 single bracket at the state tournament last fall. He played No. 1 doubles as a junior and No. 3 doubles as a sophomore. During the latter season, Ellison and partner Sergio Villalobos-Alvarado went 17-0 and won the state championship.

Playing singles at the high school level was an adjustment for Ellison, and he credits teammate Nathaniel Thornell for helping him understand what to expect. Ellison eventually got to a point where he stepped onto the court with a collection of goals he thought would help him win.

"I realized what my targets were, and I started focusing on those," Ellison said. "I tried to get over my nerves from my first year playing singles, always have a song in my head and focus on getting to my backhand and getting to the net.

"... It wasn't always the same song going through my head. Sometimes it was really poppy, sometimes it was reggae. It just depended on the day."

Garrett Seamans only coached at Central for one season, but Ellison quickly made an impression.

"He was a pretty positive leader on our team. He's always smiling and always bouncing around and joking around with his teammates," Seamans said. "We're really going to miss that. ... He's very hard working, wants to be super successful in everything he does and always wants to get better."

Cheyenne South coach Josh Cossitt has coached Ellison in his role as director of tennis for the city of Cheyenne. He also hired Ellison to give lessons to 10- to 13-year-olds. Cossitt said Ellison has grown immeasurably over the past four years and will only get better at the college level.

"It's very difficult on the boys side to get onto a roster, be it (Division I), DII or DIII, so what Mike's done is very special," Cossitt said. "... The next time we see him, we're all in trouble after he's been able to train at that $50 million facility with a good college team."

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at jjohnke@wyosports.net or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.