MIDLOTHIAN Haley Richards has always played under pressure on the tennis court. Why should her college experience be any different?

Richards signed her letter of intent to play collegiate tennis at Schreiner University in Kerrville last week becoming the first tennis player from Midlothian to sign in more than five years. After a lengthy recruiting process, the senior was just glad to have the decision out of the way.

I feel like Ive lifted a weight off my shoulders. I have that taken care of, Richards said with a smile.

Signing was the easy part. When next season starts, thats when the pressure will be on.

During her time at Midlothian, Richards was a highly successful singles and doubles player. She earned second-team all-district honors as a line three doubles player in the fall. In the spring, she and doubles partner Lexi Hendrix placed third in district for the second-straight season earning alternate status for the regional meet.

Now Richards gets to see what she can accomplish as an individual as the Schriener program will give her the opportunity to battle for one of the top three singles spots on the team. Coupled with a high course load, Richards is ready for the challenge.

I got recruited as their No. 2 girl and Im also doing the nursing program so that should be fun, Richards said.

For varsity tennis coaching assistant Greg Owen, the signing was the first hes seen at the school in his first few years and a positive sign of things to come.

His hope was that Richards success would encourage other tennis players to up their level of play and see that college competition is a goal that can be reached through hard work and dedication.

Its exciting. Shes a great player and its sad to see her go but its exciting to see her continue playing her tennis career, Owen said. Hopefully this helps future boys and girls see that college level is out there and it kind of excites them to see her go off and playing.

For Richards, its a new chapter at a new level with a whole new set of goals to accomplish. Her high school success is a point she is still very proud of but the move to college will present more obstacles to hurdle over.

To some people, that might be pressure theyre not ready to handle. Not Richards. To her, its just another goal shes ready to reach.

I feel pressure but Im also excited because I usually play better under pressure, she said. Itll be different. Definitely.

Contact Alex at alex.riley@wninews.com or at 469-517-1456.