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Athlete of the Week: Michael Hales

(Editor's note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will again recognize an “Athlete of the Week” from one of the sports on a rotating basis. This week we feature boys tennis. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as “Athlete of the Year” at their respective high schools.)

Michael Hales knows what it takes to be successful and his skill, determination and competitive fire has landed him the No.2 spot on the Culpeper County High School boys tennis team ladder.
The senior is in in his fourth year with the Blue Devils and has worked his way up from from the bottom rungs.
“He's consistent, he digs his heels in and won't give up,” said coach Jeff Stables of Hales. “He's a 'get the job done' type of player.
“I feel like he is always grinding out matches. Every year he has been in the trenches. Every point with him seems to last forever, every set goes to deuce, the weather might not be ideal, but he plays with courage.”

Not only is Hales in the No. 2 singles spot, but he is also expected to produce as partner to No. 1 player Dylan Christensen on the first doubles team.
Perhaps it is Hales' passion for automobile restoration that gives him the patience to play through difficult points.

“I enjoy restoring classic automobiles,” he said. “Right now I am working on two 1970 Cougars. I call one 'beauty' because it's pretty much ready to roll and the other one 'the beast' because it needs a complete restoration. I also have a 1965 Ford van I'm restoring.”
Hales has been accepted at Virginia Tech, where he wants to pursue mechanical engineering with a minor in industrial design.
“Then I'd like to go to Clemson and get a graduate degree in automotive engineering,” he said. “I would eventually like to start up a car company and build gas/turbine/electric hybrid cars. It can be done.”

For now Hales, who is a member of the National Honor Society, is concentrating on tennis and his high school classes. He especially enjoys math and science.
“Tennis gets me out of the house and it's pretty fun to be able to hold up against experienced players,” he said. “It's nice to feel you can return some of their tricky shots.”

First-year Eastern View High School boys tennis coach Dena Smith nominated sophomore Alex West, currently playing No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles.
“Against JM (James Monroe), which is always a tough match, Alex really came through for us,” Smith said. “He has nerves of steel. He was the last to come off the court in singles and made it 3-3 going into doubles. Alex and his doubles partner were the last team playing and it was tied 4-4. They won their match to give us the victory.”

Smith said West, who also participates in ROTC at Eastern View, is “a hard worker and a great kid.”
West played down his role in the win against JM.
“It was a big challenge for everybody on our team and it was a team effort,” he said. “It's the team that wins it. I was excited that I won head-to-head, but it was more team-related.”

West said there is a lot to like about tennis.
“It takes mental strength as well as physical,” he said. “You have to think about what you do before you do it. It's very complicated. People might say it is easy, but it is not. Sometimes I think ahead of myself or over think and then I screw up.”
West, who enjoys rifle marksmanship, said he hopes to eventually go to a four-year college and then into the military as an officer. His favorite subjects this year are history, science and math.

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