Riley follows her sister’s path to Marshall’s tennis team

Published 1:34 am Friday, December 22, 2023

South Point Lady Pointers All-Ohio tennis standout Meredith Riley signed a national letter-of-intent to play for Marshall University. Attending Riley’s signing ceremony were: seated left to right, father Eric Riley, Meredith, and mother Kim Riley; standing is sister and former Marshall tennis standout Madison Riley. (Tim Gearhart Sports Photos/For The Ironton Tribune)


SOUTH POINT — There’s a couple of old sayings regarding similar paths and personalities as in “Like father, like son,” or “Like mother, like daughter.”

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It looks like Meredith Riley has a new one. “Like sister, like sister.”

Although it might sound confusing, when looking at sisters Meredith and Madison Riley’s life paths, it all makes sense.

Meredith Riley

South Point Lady Pointers senior All-Ohio tennis standout Meredith Riley capped her high school career on Tuesday by signing a national letter-of-intent to play for the Marshall Thundering Herd.

And with the stroke of her pen, she continued on a path that mirrors her older sister Madison who also played at Marshall.

On top of them both having similar success on the courts, Meredith plans to follow her sister’s path and eventually attend medical school.

“I’m really excited because I’ve played tennis since I was five, and I’m really excited academically and athletically to live on a different path and just see what comes of it,” said Madison.

“I always hoped so watching my sister, but I didn’t know what I was going to be. She always had a big influence on me but we are interested in a lot of the same things. I want to go to med school also. I plan to hopefully go to Marshall’s med school if I can get in,” said Meredith.

Meredith played travel tennis throughout her high school career but played in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s postseason tournament. In four years, Meredith won four sectional titles and four district titles and never lost a set in any of her matches.

She played in the state tournament all four years and reached the quarterfinals on two occasions.

“Once you get to the state it’s pretty much all the girls who travel and play every weekend like I do. It’s pretty tough,” said Meredith.

“Once you get there, it’s hard. Once you get past the first round, it’s pretty tough.”

Meredith considered following the path of her sister Madison — also an All-Ohio tennis player for the Lady Pointers — who began at Western Carolina only to have them drop the program after her freshman year.

Madison transferred to Wright State and played two years before transferring to Marshall to attend medical school and finish her career.

“I definitely would have considered Wright State but they cut their program. There were some other schools I looked at but I always had my mind pretty much set on Marshall because I liked their med school and their team is good. I feel it’s nice to stay at home if you have the chance,” said Meredith.

“I’ll definitely have to work really hard if I want to be in the lineup. The team right now is pretty tough.”

Madison has been helpful to Meredith with her experience both on and off the court and she has some advice to pass along to her sister.

“I think keeping academics first actually because I think if you do that it takes a lot of the pressure off tennis,” said Madison.

“If you’re focusing on school, you can kind of play free with tennis. It’s kind of like that’s your free time. That’s what she’s choosing to do with her free time so she needs to enjoy it.”

Madison said because there is an eight and a half years difference in their ages, their time together on the tennis court was more of her helping baby sister.

“We were never in the same age division, so it was me hitting with her, catching her and helping her as much as I can. I think it helps our relationship honestly because there was no competition because I think that’s just stressful,” said Madison.

Both players took lessons from the late, great tennis player Julie Ditty of Flatwoods, Ky. They were her last two students before her death in 2021 due to breast cancer.

While there are similarities including their physical appearance, Madison had a little different thought process once about her future. He considered taking a chance at the professional tour.

“I played some qualifying tournaments, but ultimately I wanted to be a doctor and help people and have more of an impact in that aspect,” Madison said.

When Meredith was asked if she has any pro aspirations, she was quick with her response.

“No. After college I’ll still play but not competitively. I’ll be done after college,” she said.

Marshall has a strong roster under head coach John Mercer. Of the 11 current team members, only two players are from the United States: Kylie Fisher of Cabell Midland and Katy Limanen of Hurricane.

“Marshall I know they’re really, really good. My coach now, obviously, is connected to this team so I’ve watched them play a lot of matches the past couple of years. It’ll be tough but I hope I’ll get better as I get to practice with them,” said Meredith.

And Meredith will also have her sister Madison to help her improve her game.

But that’s what sisters do, especially Meredith and Madison Riley.