Watson is coming off his best season at Walker Valley, winning the District 5-AAA and Region 3-AAA titles and advancing to the state semifinals. He was eliminated in the state playoffs by Middle Tennessee’s Sean Karl, the nation’s No. 1-ranked player in 16-and-under and a top 10 player in 18-and-under.
Watson’s family, coaches and friends attended a signing ceremony last week at WVHS. He will leave the first of the week for West Tennessee and will move in on the Bethel University campus Wednesday.
Attending Thursday’s ceremony were his parents, Tina and Wendell Watson, his younger sister Wendi, and older brother Hunter. Hunter played tennis collegiately at Tennessee Wesleyan College and is the tennis coach at Farragut High School in West Knoxville.
Watson will play for coach Rafael Delgado and graduate assistant Ernesto Escamilla at Bethel, but still does not know how he will fit into the tennis plans for the NAIA Wildcats. “I’ll find that out when we start practice,” he said. One of the university’s tennis players reportedly transferred, so at least one position in the starting lineup is apparently vacant.
Watson Played four years for coaches Chris Green and Monty Frazier at Walker Valley. He was the Mustangs’ No. 3 singles player his freshman year, and No. 1 thereafter.
Coach Green complimented Watson on his senior season. “This year he took it from the practice court and put it in match play,” the Mustang coach said.
Watson posted a 15-2 record this past season, losing only once during the regular season and then in the state tournament.
The former Walker Valley standout said he began playing tennis when he was 4 years old, much influenced by his older brother. His mother said Lee coach Kay McDaniel allowed her youngest son to accompanied his older brother to the Lee tennis camp when he was 4.
Watson attended North Lee Elementary School and Ocoee Middle School before enrolling at Walker Valley.
He will be majoring in business administration at Bethel, but is planning a career in the sport of tennis. “I would like to teach at a private tennis club,” he said, but added that he is leaving his options open for the future.
Watson has been playing tennis with the Chattanooga USTA tennis club directed by Dr. Keith Dressler. He said the person most responsible for refining his tennis skills was former Lee University player Dimitar Pamuchkiyam, who provided instruction through middle school and into high school.