Smith holds court at WHS

Published 7:53 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Washington’s Kiara Smith (center), granddaughter of legendary Pam Pack basketball coach Dave Smith, is making a name for herself on the tennis court where she is Washington’s No. 1 seed. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

The Washington High School gymnasium is the house that Dave Smith built, with back-to-back state championship basketball teams serving as the foundation.
The Pam Pack tennis courts, however, belong to his granddaughter Kiara Smith.
Kiara, a junior at Washington High School, is the team’s No. 1 seed for the second straight year and is looking to build on the success of her sophomore season where she reached the Coastal Conference finals.
Equipped with blazing sideline-to-sideline speed and a fearless approach at the net, Smith is poised to repeat as one of the conference’s top netters.
So far this season, Washington has played in a total nine matches and Smith has lost only one of her Coastal Conference singles contests, something she doesn’t plan on happening again.
“My goal is to not lose anymore matches,” Smith said. “That’s my goal.”
Pam Pack coach Phedora Johnson said if Smith stays focused she can achieve that goal.
“I think if her head’s still in the game she can go undefeated for the rest of the season.” Johnson said. “There’s great potential for that.”
The potential for greatness runs in the family as Dave Smith was a star football and baseball player at Tennessee State University before becoming the Pam Pack’s all-time winningist basketball coach with a 520-233 record. Smith presided over teams that went to the NCHSAA 3-A finals four times and won state glory in the 1978 and ’79 seasons.
Kiara’s uncle Jay Smith and father Earl Smith have both coached basketball, which she plays as well.
When he wasn’t leading teams to victory on the basketball court, Dave Smith brought his clipboard and whistle to another court, as he also spent time as a tennis coach at P.S. Jones.
Heading into the season, the former coach had some sound advice for his granddaughter.
“Well, he just wants me to do my best and play smart on the court and not to make foolish decisions,” Smith said.
Everyday Smith is reminded of her grandfather’s success each time she walks into the Dave W. Smith Gymnasium, which was officially named after the Pack legend last season, and said that she is filled with pride every time she reads the sign hanging above the entrance that bears his name.
“I feel proud. I feel good. I feel like I’m a part of this schoo. Even though it’s not me, a lot of people know that’s my granddad,” Smith said. “I’m just happy for him.”
The Smith family name holds a lot of weight in Washington, and while the pressure to live up to the reputation does not affect her on the tennis court, it’s a little different when she throws on her Pam Pack hoops jersey and plays basketball on his court.
“There’s a little bit more pressure basketball-wise, but not tennis-wise,” Smith said. “Basketball I feel a little bit more pressure because that’s what he was really big in.”
As of now, Smith is making a name for herself on the tennis court, where the No. 1 seed is hoping to lead Washington to a Coastal Conference title.
“Kiara definetly sets the pace for what the quality of play needs to be like,” Johnson said. “How she plays sets the bar for us, it’s really important to the team.”
The Pam Pack, which is 4-1 in conference play, will look to take another step towards a conference title today when it plays at D.H. Conley