Barnette, a senior who is entering his fourth year with the Cass program, signed a scholarship this week to play at Reinhardt, a member of the NAIA and Appalachian Athletic Conference in Waleska.
“Jake is going to come in and bring depth to our program,” according to Reinhardt head coach Jennifer Sackman, who noted he joins Tara Mathis, another Cass product, in the college’s program.
The coach said she became familiar with Barnette last summer when he attended her academy there, and she knows he will be “a good fit at Reinhardt.”
She said he will be asked to play singles and doubles, noting she has three doubles teams and six singles players. “I expect him to be a great, consistent player for us.”
She said he has a lot of tennis skills, and she expects him to grow as a player.
“He’s got good footwork and a great forehand,” she said, “but the thing I’m most impressed with is his work ethic.”
Sackman said his familiarity with Reinhardt’s program is a definite asset.
“Jake was at our academy and got to meet a lot of our players,” she said. “He fits right in with our team, and there’s a lot of camaraderie.”
Barnette said he is looking forward to attending Reinhardt. “I love it there.”
He said he visited the college with Mathis and likes its location, facilities and players. But he said he still has goals he hopes to accomplish at Cass.
“We got to region last year,” he said, “and we want to do well this year, too.”
Barnette will be entering his third year as a singles player. He was a doubles player for Cass his freshman year.
The Cass tennis star said he would like to cap his career with victories over the Wildcats, their cross-county rivals, and the Wolves, another rival in Region 7A-AAAA.
Barnette said he will put his scholarship to good use. “You want all the scholarship money you can get.”
He said he started playing tennis at Cartersville Country Club and has continued to hone his skills ever since.
Chris Allen, his tennis coach at Cass, said Barnette not only is a hard worker who devotes a lot of time to tennis but also is a student of the game.
“Jake really likes to find his opponents’ weaknesses and exploit them,” Allen said. “He’s learned to see the whole court when he plays.
“It’s been fun seeing him develop as a tennis player since his freshman year when he helped anchor our doubles team.
“He recognizes nothing is given to you in tennis and you have to work hard to get the results you want.”
The coach said Barnette also has been a leader for the Colonels.
“He is our link to our teams from the past and our players look up to him,” Allen said. “That’s why he’s been an easy choice for team captain.”
Allen said Barnette has been pointed toward college since an early age by his parents and has done the necessary work to prepare to meet its academic requirements. “It’s easier when everyone is working together.”