McALESTER — McAlester senior Chance Sistrunk played baseball throughout his childhood, but a wrist injury ended that in the sixth grade. He said his mother suggested he try tennis as a spring sport instead, so Sistrunk joined McAlester’s summer tennis camp before the start of the seventh grade.
Six years later, Sistrunk is a three-time state qualifier, a state runner-up in two-singles and the 2014 Buffaloes’ top singles player.
“I want to win a one-singles state title, but also I’d like to see the team do well,” Sistrunk said March 18. “It’s an individual sport, but in high school we get a team.”
Sistrunk said he’d never picked up a racket before that first camp, and at first he didn’t care for the sport that would someday send him to college.
“First two days, I didn’t want to go at all, hated,” Sistrunk. “I actually got bumped up to the intermediate class at summer camp (on the third day), and I was like, ‘Well hey, maybe this isn’t too bad.’”
Though one of the worst players in junior high, according to both himself and coach Chad Waller, by his freshman year he was on varsity. He made the state tournament at one-singles as a freshman, then made it back to State as a sophomore in one-singles.
He returned to State again as a junior last season, finishing second in Class 5A in two-singles.
“I could not get comfortable,” Sistrunk said of his 2013 state championship match, which was against Booker T. Washington’s Cole Inhofe.
“It just wasn’t coming off the racket right. I didn’t feel nervous at all out there. I didn’t feel upset. I just couldn’t play.”
At Buffs tennis practices, Sistrunk often seems like the loudest, most enthusiastic person on the court, his voice encouraging his teammates almost unceasingly. Sistrunk is also part of a particularly vocal group of students who’ve been mainstays at McAlester athletic contests, cheering on his classmates in softball, basketball, football and baseball.