Massey realizes goal, ready for state tournament

May 9—Emma Massey has come a long way in three seasons.

From never having picked up a racket her freshman year, the Liberty junior will make her state tournament debut Friday morning. She will be the No. 9 seed in Class AA/A and will take on No. 8 Cecilia Taverna of Robert C. Byrd at noon.

All Class AA/A girls matches will be played at the Kanawha City Community Center.

Massey finished third in last week's Region 3 Championships and has been among the area's top-rated players most of the season. Not bad for someone who just started playing two years ago.

"That's the first time I ever picked up a racket," Massey said of her freshman season. "I just wanted to try something new and thought it would be fun."

It didn't take long for her to take to the new sport.

"I picked up it pretty quick," she said. "I picked it up within a few days. Then it just took time to build up the skill and stuff."

Massey cracked the Raiders' starting lineup that first season, playing as the third seed. A year later, she vaulted up to No. 1 and has been there ever since.

Transitioning from third to No. 1 took some adjusting.

"It was harder for sure, because you play harder (opponents) when you're higher up," Massey said. "But I thought it was pretty fun, and it gave me a harder challenge."

Massey is a former volleyball player, and those skills came in handy in developing her tennis game.

"Oh, yeah. A hundred percent," she said. "Being able to move around the court, and always on your toes."

"She came from playing volleyball, so she's a good little athlete," head coach Joan Cooper said. "They have to have that hand-eye coordination, so they come natural to tennis. That helps her a lot, especially with her serve. ... She just gets better and better. She plays all the time, in and out of season."

Getting a chance at the state level is something Massey has wanted since she started playing, and she hopes to use it as a measuring stick moving forward.

"It means a lot to me," Massey said. "It's the thing that I've been playing for this whole time, to get to states. I'm excited. It's going to be a learning experience being able to play there. And I guess it will set up for hopefully if I go next year."

Also in the state tournament is Bluefield's Catalina Dalton. Massey defeated her in the regional tournament.

Dalton is the No. 4 seed and will face No. 13 McKenzie White of Lincoln.