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Athletic scholarships are a family tradition in the Love family.
Terence Love earned a football scholarship to The Citadel.
Vanessa Love, his wife, landed a scholarship to play NCAA Division I basketball at Howard University.
Keiana Love, the oldest daughter, attended Johnson C. Smith University on a tennis scholarship.
Thus, Taylor Love is left to continue the family tradition. She smiles about the suggestion of sensing pressure to achieve the same status as family members.
Nonetheless, the situation was resolved Monday evening when, in her home, Taylor Love signed a National Letter of Intent to accept a women’s tennis scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Asheville of the Div. I ranks.
The 5-foot-5, 125-pound 18-year-old chose the Lady Bulldogs of head coach Lise Gregory over Howard, Eastern Washington and numerous Division II programs.
Love, a 2017 graduate of Hunt High, admits she was attempted to pursue adventure at Eastern Washington, but honored her parent’s pleas to continue her esteemed career closer to home.
“I’m excited, blessed,” she commented. “I am blessed I have been given this opportunity.
“With school, the environment and teamwork, I fit right in. There’s not anything awkward. My game has improved and I feel perfectly comfortable.”
Vanessa Love insists her daughter being situated four hours away is too distant and assured: “We absolutely didn’t want her to go to Eastern Washington.”
Added Terence Love: “I would have had to find somewhere to live for six months.”
As a matter of fact, Taylor Love is beginning her collegiate career sooner than planned. She will enroll in mid-January and expects to be in the starting lineup for the first match.
Upon graduating from Hunt, she had planned to take a year’s break from her studies and concentrate on tennis. But while she was competing in a tournament at Hilton Head, South Carolina, her parents learned, that, according to NCAA guidelines, if she sat out a year, she would lose one year of eligibility and not be eligible to begin competing until the 2019-2020 season.
Thus, Taylor Love feels blessed — as do her parents — because scholarship money was still available at UNC Asheville.
Influencing her decision, she admits, was former Hunt teammate Bryson Lee, a women’s soccer freshman, also attending UNCA.
“But the big reason she’s there,” Vanessa Love said, “is her coach. So many college coaches are administrators, but she’s out there with them. She played at the University of Miami, coached at Florida State, is ranked in the top 50 in the nation in doubles and the top 120 in singles. She has a phenomenal pedigree and can catapult Taylor to the next level.”
Taylor Love, who will pursue a degree in biology and pledges to fulfill her responsibilities in upholding the team’s 3.5 grade-point average, reasons the higher she plays in the Lady Bulldogs lineup will better prepare her for her pro endeavor.
“But we don’t have challenges and we’ll be picked where we’re going to play,” she explained, “I’m going to play wherever she tells me and do whatever she asks of me.
“My goal is win every match, go undefeated, contribute as much as I can and uplift the team. I’m going to try to encourage others when they are down or feel like giving up.”
She will be one of two UNCA freshmen and her teammates included foreign players. The other freshman is a former training partner, Anastia Hobart of Green Hope High.
Love was seldom on the “love” end of an outcome during her Hunt career, compiling a 63-4 record, never losing a 3-A Big East Conference match and being forced three sets just once.
She seized North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A East Regional championships as a sophomore and senior. In the 3-A state tournament, Love reached the second round as a freshman, the finals as a sophomore and the semifinals as a senior. She was thrice proclaimed Big East Player of the year. Love did not play high school tennis as a junior.
The signing interrupts a schedule of 22 hours from Monday through Thursday spent developing her game at Cameron Moore Tennis Academy in Cary. Love trained and frequently played in tournaments.
She’s even competed in a pair of professional tournaments, compiling a 1-1 record. Her parents explained she will retain her amateur status as long as her winnings don’t exceed $10,000.
Love’s ambition is to turn pro and she notes: “College will help me become more established; college is the best thing for me the next four years.
“It’s actually exciting. All the stress of worrying about where I’m going is lifted off my shoulders.”
Adds her mother: “It’s a godsend.”