Decatur High tennis player Margaret Lucas knew entering this season the level of play she needed to reach to make a deep postseason run. She was state runner-up in No. 1 singles play her junior year and made it to the semifinals her sophomore year.
She was able to lift her game to a high level again as a senior. She added another state semifinals appearance in No. 1 singles to her resume. She boasted a 26-1 record and won the Class 6A, Section 6 No. 1 singles tournament without losing a set.
Lucas has been selected as The Daily’s girls tennis Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
“Margaret is one of the best tennis players I have seen in my life,” Decatur High tennis coach Amanda Whitmire said. “She’s an incredible player who has compassion. She helped players on our team, and hit shots to them to help them improve.”
Lucas’ final year of high school competition was her first playing for Whitmire, who is a former Decatur tennis star. Lucas was the primary team member who helped Whitmire feel comfortable in the new role. Lucas would check on Whitmire during the school day and also help the younger players adjust to having a new coach.
“I told the younger players to treat her like we would our last coach,” Lucas said. “I told them to respect her and she’ll respect you back. I think I was important in helping her adjust. (Beverly Fite) was, too.”
Whitmire returned the favor by helping Lucas avoid getting too frustrated on the court. Lucas has a tendency to let setbacks on the court distract her instead of just playing her style.
“Margaret knows tennis. She just overthinks it sometimes,” Whitmire said. “She just needed somebody to listen to her and help her breathe. We were able to develop a relationship beyond tennis, and that helped her calm down when we would talk.”
When Lucas was calm, which was often, she was one of the strongest girls tennis players in the state. She recorded a 53-2 record in her last two seasons. She also helped the Decatur girls win a state title in 2017.
Lucas was known for her high level of play even before arriving in Decatur. Her dad was a tennis pro in Birmingham for nearly 30 years before the family moved to Arkansas. She then moved back to Alabama when her dad became the tennis pro at Point Mallard.
Lucas was Decatur’s No. 1 singles player almost immediately and traveled around the Southeast for the youth tennis tour.
Next year, she will try to make a similar impression as she joins a new team. Lucas will play for UAH in college.
“I just want to give it my best shot,” Lucas said. “I just want to do the best I can to impress. Decatur, though, will always have a special place in my heart.”