The three-time state singles champion at Elizabethton High School recently finished up a second straight strong season at Furman University.
Vines plays at No. 3 singles for the Paladins and was chosen as the Southern Conference tournament most outstanding player as a freshman and sophomore — helping her team reach the NCAA tournament each time.
“I feel like both years I walked into the tournament with a now-or-never attitude,” said Vines. “I think I played my best tennis at the end of the year both years. I refused to lose for my team and for the school.”
Furman faced North Carolina last year, and this year it was No. 3-ranked Duke. Vines didn’t get a bargain at No. 3, facing Kelly Chen — Duke’s top-ranked player — and taking a 6-1, 6-1 loss.
“She was for sure a really tough opponent,” said Vines. “I think she lost 7-6 in the third set to a girl who was ranked No. 200 in the world. (Chen) is a pro-level player.
“It was a little intimidating to play at Duke. I could have played better, but it was an awesome experience.”
In doubles, Vines teamed up with Katty Weymouth at No. 2 and took a 6-3 loss to Chen and Samantha Harris.
“We did pretty well,” said Vines. “The score wasn’t super close, but I felt like we were competitive. We had some break points, but couldn’t win them.”
Vines received the Pinnacle Award for having the highest GPA on the conference championship team. She carries a 4.0 in pre-med, and is looking for a med school landing point.
“I have applied at a bunch of different places,” said Vines, who is working this summer at Johnson City Medical Center to gain volunteer hours.
After she finishes her career at Furman, Vines said she will likely retire from tennis — at least temporarily.
“I will probably put the racket down for a year or two, if for no other reason than I will be busy,” said Vines. “I’ll play in adult leagues later, but I’m not going to try to go pro.”
Vines’ brother is a lacrosse standout, who recently signed a Division I deal with High Point University.
“I love watching him play,” said Vines. “We were super competitive, and I always tried to make sure he was tough as nails. He’s just one of those kids who is naturally gifted. He’s very fast. It’s just in his blood.”
Vines said she was impressed with Hunter’s dedication to lacrosse so early in life.
“He was in seventh grade, 12 years old, and he said, ‘This is what I want to do,’ ” said Vines. “He said he had to go to a boarding school. He just picked what he wanted to do, and did what it took to get there.”