Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Kiwanis Club honors coaches Burch and Eblen and HHS tennis team

The Kiwanis Club honored the women's tennis All Stars. [STEVE EDWARDS/Kiwanis Club of Henderson County]

Val Burch, who led North Henderson High School cross country teams to seven state championships and was named conference coach of the year 10 times, received the Glenn C. Marlow Athletic Achievement Award from the Kiwanis Club of Henderson County last month.


During its annual fall sports Kiwanis All Stars recognition, the club also honored Coach Jessica Eblen and the Hendersonville High School women’s state champion tennis team.
Given in memory of the late Henderson County schools superintendent, the Glenn Marlow award honors a long-time teacher and coach for achievement in sports, community service and mentoring of young people.
ValBurchVal BurchA native of Haywood County, Burch received a degree in industrial arts education from Western Carolina University. He taught for three years in Gaffney, South Carolina, before taking a job at Edneyville High School in 1979, moving to North Henderson when the new school opened in 1993.
A marketing, drafting and personal finance teacher, he coached tennis for one year, boys and girls swimming for six years and cross country for 15 years, where he found consistent success. Besides the seven state titles, his boys and girls cross country teams were runners up three times and won numerous conference and regional titles. Burch, who retired in 2018, was named coach of the year twice by the Asheville Citizen-Times and Hendersonville Times-News.
Bearcat tennis coach Jessica Eblen is a Hendersonville native and 2006 HHS graduate who played on the school’s 2002 state championship team and was a three-time state doubles champion. She attended UNC Greensboro on a tennis scholarship, playing for four years. After living abroad for several years, she returned to her hometown and high school alma mater as a teacher and coach of the men’s and women’s tennis teams.
The women tennis players swatted their way through four rounds of play before defeating the North Carolina School of Science and Math for the title on Nov. 2. The Bearcats were led by McCollough Perry, who finished the season undefeated in doubles and 30-1 in singles, losing to the eventual state champion. A junior, Perry won the Mountain Six Conference and Western Regional single titles. She was named conference player of the year and the Citizen-Times and Times-News Player of the Year.
Other players were:
• Lindsay Bull, a sophomore, played No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles, compiling records of 22-6 and 15-0. She was an All-Conference, All-Area Times-News selection and Citizen-Times first team. Fourth in the Western Regional tournament, she lost in the quarterfinals at the individual state tournament.
• Olivia Pursley, a sophomore, finished 16-2 playing No. 3 singles and 16-3 at No. 2 doubles with Anna Trace, was named to All-Conference, All-Area and All-State teams.
• Anna Trace, a sophomore playing at No. 4 singles (18-1) and No. 2 doubles (16-3), made the All-Conference, All-Area and All-State teams, was Western Highlands Conference runner-up in doubles, third with Pursley in regional doubles, state runner-up in doubles in Cary and the MVP dual team at the AA state championship.
• Celia Donaldson, a senior, overcame an MCL tear to post a record of 18-1 in singles and 12-0 in doubles playing at the No. 5 slot, winning All-Area recognition.
• Anne Jones, a sophomore playing No. 6 singles, had an 18-1 record in singles and 11-1 in doubles and won All-Area honors.