CHIEF LOGAN STATE PARK — The Chief Logan Rec Center has been praised by many for its great facilities, but one local tennis star says the Rec Center helped him achieve his dream of playing in college.
Zak Hatfield, a recent Logan High School graduate and rising Fairmont State University freshman tennis player, said the Rec Center provided him a place to play indoors on some of the best courts in the state.
“I’ve been playing tennis competitively since sixth grade, but I’ve been playing since I was real young,” Hatfield said. “I’ve played a lot at the Rec Center. On rainy days, I’d come up here. When we got rained out at practice, I’d come up here. And I come up here a lot on my own in the winter. Having an indoor facility really helps your game. It really gives me an edge.”
Hatfield said he knows his game will have to change when he goes off to college, but one thing that won’t change is him playing at the Rec Center.
“I’ll have to hit the ball with more power and consistency and I’ll have to prep for that,” Hatfield said. “Playing all year ‘round here really helps your game.”
Hatfield’s high school coach, Justin Turner, said he believes Hatfield will do fine as a college tennis player.
“Zach has been a really good player for us. He’s a player who is humble and listens and, as a coach, that’s what you always want,” Turner said. “He listens and actually does what you tell him to do.
“As a freshman, he was the No. 2 seed, then from his sophomore year to his senior year, he was the No. 1 seed. He made it to the state tournament every year. I’m not sure how many people have done that in their career at Logan High. That’s a pretty hard task to accomplish, but that’s what gets you ready to play at that college level.”
Turner said Hatfield will have to step up to play at Fairmont State, but he knows he’s up to the task.
“College is a big step up from high school tennis and you’ll play against international players,” Turner said. “I played at the University of Charleston and we played Fairmont State. It’s a nice school and I’ve talked to the coach up there. He had some other offers, but he will be an excellent fit at Fairmont State.”
Turner said Hatfield will probably go in as a No. 2 or 3 seed.
“That’s really good,” Turner said. “Not only is he a good singles player, but he is also a good doubles player. It’s hard to find someone who can get along with anybody on your team, that you can match together.”
Hatfield also went to the state tournament as a doubles player with teammate Keith Williamson.
“He’s just overall a good player,” Turner said.
The coach said he credits a lot of Hatfield’s development with being able to play on the indoor courts at the Rec Center.
“When I was playing in high school, we didn’t have the indoor courts here at the Chief Logan Rec Center and we had to drive to Charleston to play on an indoor court,” Turner said. “Now, you can come here and its right in your backdoor. The Rec Center has three indoor courts you can use just about anytime.
“If you compare the Chief Logan Rec Center to one of the courts in Charleston, you are paying a lot less to come use these courts. It’s a tremendous difference. We actually have pros from Charleston who come down and give lessons. These courts are top-of-the-line courts. They have had a few U.S. Tennis Association tournaments here. It’s been a big help to all area teams. Players from Scott High School, Westside High School and Mingo Central, as well as Logan, Chapmanville and Man come down here to play and practice rather than having to drive all the way to Charleston.”
Hatfield said he is excited to play college tennis.
“I’m excited to be going to Fairmont State this fall,” Hatfield said. “It will be a little different than high school, so I’m getting ready. Fairmont State has a really nice community and the coach is nice. I’m really looking forward to going up there.”
Hatfield signed his letter of intent to play collegiately at Fairmont State in May.