How a Georgia high school tennis star used the sport to give back to his community

Victoria Chiesa | June 25, 2024

In a decorated high-school tennis career at Stratford Academy in Macon, Ga., Cameron Douthit compiled a sparkling 72-3 four-year record that included unbeaten seasons as a freshman and senior. In his first year, he made an immediate impact, and clinched the Eagles' 11th team state championship since 2008. As an upperclassman, he won back-to-back GIAA individual state titles, and at one stage in his high-school career, was ranked as high as No. 5 in Georgia.


Off the court, this scholar-athlete also received kudos for his achievement in math, and graduated from Stratford, an elite prep school with a rigorous curriculum that includes nearly two dozen Advanced Placement courses, last month with high honors.


But while his academic and athletic accolades are already formidable, the most impressive part of Douthit's resume might be his philanthropic heart—and the innovative way in which he centered tennis to give back to his community. 


As a part of his responsibilities at Stratford, Douthit needed to complete 75 hours of community service. When a teammate graduated, Douthit took up the service project that he started: collecting the metal lids from tennis ball cans at five local facilities, and then donating them to the local Ronald McDonald House—which then recycled them for a profit.

A well-rounded prep resume like Douthit's doesn't come without equal parts intangibles and hard work, and both he and his mother, Sherri Douthit, are quick to credit the inherent lessons that tennis taught him for cultivating both, on and off the court. 


"I think it's a sport that grows you just not just as an athlete, but a person because you have to figure out a lot about yourself as you play," he says, while also citing the many friends he's made through top-level competition as a highlight.


"He likes to be perfect, and it was that one area that you just can't ever be perfect," Sherri Douthit adds. "It's a tough sport. ... He went through, definitely, a growing period of learning how to handle what it meant to not get every forehand. Watching him grow in that aspect and learn how to handle it, so then he could transform it over into just real life and daily living in school and everywhere, has been a great thing to watch."


They'll serve Douthit well in his next challenge, too: Division I college tennis at nearby Mercer University, where he has also been accepted to the honors program. He will major in biology, and hopes to continue impacting young lives by attending medical school to become a pediatrician. 

It's a logical career choice for someone who says he's always had a passion for working with kids, but Douthit won't have to wait until then to positively impact the next generation. This summer, he's helping to coach youngsters at Idle Hour Country Club's tennis camps, which he too attended as a child.


"It's just combining two of my favorite things working with the kids, seeing them laugh and all, and enjoy just having fun with their friends," he says. "Being an influence on them is very special, as is teaching them, showing them how much they could love the sport in the future and how impactful it can be."


Haley Fuller contributed to this reporting.

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