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Watching her younger brother Nathan compete in a tennis tournament as a sixth grader, Samantha Street had no real aspirations to play the sport.
Street was taken by surprise when Duncan coach Phil Barnes approached her in the stands and asked if she would give tennis a chance – come hit a few balls one day just to see if she liked it as much as her brother.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Their exchange turned out to be the first chapter in what became a memorable tennis career at the high school and collegiate level for Street, a four-year starter, state qualifier and All-State Selection at Duncan when she played from 2006-2009.
“I have so many great memories playing for coach Barnes those four years,” Street said. “Just being successful and spending time with my team, people like Melaine [Barnes], I’ve always loved playing since I began and coach Barnes seeking my interest when I was in sixth grade is what started it.”
Street, who just graduated from college last month, continued a family tradition when deciding to attend Ouachita Baptist University four years ago. Each of her grandparents and parents Scott and Christie Street went to OBU, making the school a “perfect fit” for Samantha.
“I knew I wanted to go there my whole life,” Street said. “Being a third generation student there, it just felt like a good fit.”
For the first time since she was 12, Street didn’t think she would continue playing tennis before her freshman year. It turns out the same man who introduced her to the sport helped bring her back to it.
“I originally decided to not play and during my first semester I didn’t,” Street said. “I was really just burnt out from playing. But once I got up there, I wanted to play again, I missed it, and after I talked to coach Barnes, he got in touch with the coach there and I was given a chance to try out for the team.”
After making the team, Street spent her time with the Tigers competing in doubles and singles play. From the start, it was easy for her to notice the difference between the high school and college game.
“Playing at Duncan prepared me a lot, but one thing that was different was the amount of international players,” Street said. “I got the chance to meet people from all around the world.”
Playing for OBU occasionally included a rare opportunity for the Little Rock, Ark. native – the chance to face off against an old teammate.
“I played against Melanie Barnes my last three years in singles and doubles play,” Street said. ‘It was kind of weird for me, but it was always cool because coach Barnes would come to those meets and watch us. Even playing against her, I still found myself almost rooting for her a little and it was interesting to see how we were still the same kind of players.”
As it is today, Duncan girls tennis was synonymous with success during Street’s four years with the team. The Lady Demons were the Class 5A State runnerups multiple times and Street placed in the top five at state all four years at the No. 2 singles slot, including a second place finish her junior year.
For Street, all the success she’s had begins with Barnes.
“He’s an incredible coach,” Street said. “I owe a lot of my success to him because he pushed me to become a better player and motivated me when I needed it most.”
The future remains bright for Street, who will return to her native state this fall when she begins working at an accounting firm in Rogers, Arkansas. Like her tennis career, her profession was not something that had been originally planned.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” Street said. “My dad had wanted me to pick a major becoming starting my freshman year and accounting was at the top of the list alphabetically so I just decided to pick it.”