Ironton’s Morgan proves late is better than never after signing with Pioneers

Published 9:27 pm Sunday, May 14, 2023

Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ tennis standout Isabel Morgan signed a letter-of-intent Friday to play at Transylvania University in Kentucky. Attending the signing ceremony were: seated left to right, mother Mallory Morgan, Isabel, father Lee Morgan and brother Baylor Morgan; standing left to right, sisters Laney Morgan, and Kaelen Morgan and brother Briggs Morgan.

By Jim Walker

Isabel Morgan may have come late, but she has proven to be the life of the party anyway.

Email newsletter signup

The Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ senior never played tennis until she reached high school but she now finds herself heading to be part of the Transylvania Pioneers NCAA Division 3 program after signing a letter-of-intent on Friday.

Ironton’ Isabel Morgan

Morgan started playing tennis during the boys’ season in the spring of 2020 only to have the COVID-19 period hit and shut down all spring sports.

“I really started my sophomore year,” Morgan said. “It’s really hard (to decide which sport she likes best). I’ve played basketball my whole life and tennis I started my sophomore year. They’re kind of equal to me, but basketball I’ve played longer.”

Morgan toyed with the idea of playing both sports in college but opted to concentrate on just one when she picked Transylvania.

“I looked at Wooster (Ohio). I was going to go for pre-med and they were interested in me for basketball and tennis. But once I took in consideration the four-hour drive, I said no,” said Morgan.

Another selling point for Morgan was the Pioneers head coach Bill Carey and an instant connection she felt.

“The coach is what I really liked. He was like Lovell (Medcalf), my tennis coach. That’s what that coach reminded me of and I love Lovell so I said this has to be the school,” said Morgan.

Medcalf — who played at Morehead State — said Morgan has the ability and the intangibles to play at the college level.

“Honestly, I think it’s her God-given athleticism. She’s really good. She’s had knack to pick up things quick. She’s been able to do that right when she started,” said Medcalf.

“Everything came natural and she just kept getting better. She kept pushing herself. Her will to get better has been the key to her really excelling and being in the spot she is right now.”

Besides basketball and tennis, Morgan has also ran cross country and track. Medcalf said playing a lot of sports in high school were great for her development but just doing only one sport in college will benefit her now.

“I think this will probably be the most she’ll grow because she’ll get to focus on that one thing. With her athleticism and playing different sports in high school, it’s going to be a huge benefit to her with her footwork and just her competitive nature she has,” said Medcalf.

“And just her being able to focus on one thing she can really just put her head down and work as hard as she can I think is going to show tremendously in her growth and making herself successful.”

Although she likes both sports, Morgan said there is a distinction between them in terms of team versus individual.

“In basketball I get more mad at myself. Tennis, it’s like calmer for me,” said Morgan. “People are less dependent on me in tennis. So, it’s like me against myself.”

Because she took up tennis, Morgan increased her practice time by going to the boys’ practices three times a week and and over the summer she’ll play against her sister Laney.

“It’s hard to find someone to play against. You have to have someone who can at least turn the ball to you. Some people can’t really do it so it’s not really practice,” said Morgan.

There has been a strategy in Morgan’s approach to improving her game. She tries to break down each facet of her tennis game.

“I usually pick one part of my game and try to improve it. I wasn’t very good at my forehand coming into my fall girl’s season this year, so I worked more with Lovell on it and I was getting better,” Morgan said. “Now, I’m going to work on my serves and try to get them better. I’m just taking it a step at a time.”

Morgan knows it will be different at the college level than what she grew accustomed to in high school.

“I would like to earn my singles spot because I like singles, but they kind of do both in college. But I just like to play,” she said.

Morgan plans to major in physical science.

“I want to be an athletic trainer or physical therapist,” she said.