Sandy Allen and Camille Lastrapes lean on one another on and off the tennis court. They’re doubles partners, and they’re also best friends. They are a duo of excellence on the court and in the classroom. After first meeting at a tennis clinic in the eighth grade, they joined the Creekside High School girls tennis team their freshman year, and with a trip to the state championships together as freshman that spring, their friendship blossomed into one they cherished throughout their high school careers. However, with college on the brink for both of them, the two girls will be forced to go separate ways to partake in journeys that the other will still surely hear all about. It’s apparent that their friendship and support for one another is something they will carry for a lifetime.
Allen began her tennis career comparatively late. She played several other sports like basketball and soccer, but after trying tennis for the first time she was hooked. She caught on quickly, taking home a state title her freshman year and making her way to state her junior year, where her team was runner-up.
“I’m a pretty competitive person, but I don’t really let myself get down about a loss,” Allen said. “It’s more like, ‘Well, this is what I have to do to get better,’ and it kind of pushes me more. I love to play, and I couldn’t imagine not playing tennis.”
Allen’s tennis career will continue at Lees-McRae College in Banner-Elk, North Carolina. She will officially sign on April 12 with the goal of continuing to grow and learn as a tennis player and have successful seasons at the next level. Amidst all the excitement, however, is one bitter sweet aspect of going off to college – parting with her best friend.
“When we split, it will be both difficult and weird, but I know we’ll both be successful,” Allen said. “This year, our goal would probably be to make it back to state because each of us have been there twice. We’d like to go back and have that one last laugh and happy memory together in high school.”
With her kind personality and infectious positivity, Allen has surrounded herself with a huge support system beyond the friendships she has as a student and athlete. She credits her mom and dad for a lifetime of encouragement as well as her grandparents who are there to cheer her on at each of her tennis matches. Outside of Creekside High School, Allen is active at her church, which has also provided her with an unyielding support system.
“I’m the president of my youth group at my church,” Allen said. “Everyone at my church is also very encouraging. Someone is always asking me about tennis, so that’s cool to know they’re supporting me too, which has also kind of pushed me to be successful.”
As Allen makes the move from Florida to North Carolina, she will face new challenges at the college level; however, there is no doubt that she will face every opportunity she encounters with the same excellent attitude that has made her a valuable student and athlete thus far.
Lastrapes has been around the sport of tennis for quite some time. She was always an athletic little girl growing up, but shortly after her mother introduced her to tennis, she focused on tennis alone. She honed in on her tennis ability when she began middle school, and in the eighth grade she joined a club team, which ended up making a showing at the national level as they represented the state of Florida. She continued to be a success on the Creekside High School tennis team, where she snagged a state title along with her doubles partner as a freshman.
As for her post-college endeavors, Lastrapes has chosen to attend Florida State University, and one way or another, she will continue to play tennis.
“It’s a Division I school that’s pretty competitive, but I’m going to try to walk on,” Lastrapes said. “If not, I want to join a sorority and play club tennis.”
Academically, Lastrapes isn’t 100 percent sure what she wants to pursue as a major, but she certainly has her eye on criminology.
Although her bond with Allen has been one that has been dear to her through her high school career, Lastrapes is confident that a little distance won’t hinder their friendship.
“We’re definitely still going to keep in touch,” Lastrapes said. “She’s going to a school that’s about 30 minutes from one of our other teammates, so I plan to visit during breaks in college. We’ll be able to hang out over the summer and stay in contact through text and so on.”
Lastrapes has certainly proven to be a young lady that is a step ahead of the game, whether it’s on the tennis court or in the classroom. Actually, she already has a little experience as an entrepreneur as well. Lastrapes maintains an Etsy shop where she sells jewelry that she creates herself. She also spent some time coaching younger boys and girls on the tennis court.
No matter the major she chooses or the organizations she partakes in at FSU, Lastrapes will continue to make her alma mater, family, and community proud. She is a young lady who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, and college will only broaden her opportunities academically and athletically.
(Allen on Lastrapes)
“Camille is a very, very successful player,” Allen said. “She’s always encouraging everyone on the court, and she’s always pushing me to be better. Camille is the kind of the athlete you want to compare yourself to just because she’s so good. I always try to go out there and see what she’s doing to see how I can improve myself.”
(Lastrapes on Allen)
“She’s really supportive, and I love being around her,” Lastrapes said. “I’d say no matter if she’s winning or losing, she’s always positive, she always has her head up, and she’s very supportive. She is never down about anything, and she’s always looking forward to the next thing.”
Creekside Doubles Partners Share Infallible Friendship and Success on the Tennis Court
Sandy Allen & Camille Lastrapes | Creekside High School | NF | April/May 2017
Written by: Sarah Turner