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South Paulding girls’ tennis has high hopes
by E. Marcel Pourtout
March 05, 2014 01:15 PM | 1734 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / E. Marcel Pourtout<br>From left, South Paulding girls’ tennis players Rikki Hagerty and Taylor Blake stand with racquets before practice last week.
Staff / E. Marcel Pourtout
From left, South Paulding girls’ tennis players Rikki Hagerty and Taylor Blake stand with racquets before practice last week.
After having its season conclude in the second round of the Region 5-AAAAA tournament last year, the South Paulding girls’ tennis team looks to take the next step for a program that hasn’t made the state tournament in more than four years.

The Spartans are off to a strong start, winning two of their first three matches. South Paulding earned a 5-0 win over Alexander in its season opener and got a 4-1 region victory over Hiram on Feb. 27.

“The girls are working very hard and are playing tennis outside of our practices,” fourth-year head coach Kenneth Crenshaw said. “Since I’ve taken over, we’ve only been one win away in the region tournament from making the state playoffs. Our goal this year is to make the postseason.”

The Spartans will be led by seniors Rikki Hagerty and Taylor Blake, who are expected to occupy the top two singles spots in the team’s lineup during matches.

“Both players are good leaders and I know they can take care of things if I’m not around,” Crenshaw said.

Like most of their competitors, South Paulding has dealt with preseason adversity due to lack of practice time from the inclement weather that hampered Georgia in early February. However, the squad still has optimism about its preparations for this season.

“Everything has been great and everyone is developing well, including our new players,” Blake said. “We’re giving 100 percent every day in practice and striving to be better on and off the court.”

The entire South Paulding athletics program has already had a strong year with the football, volleyball, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball teams each setting records and making the state playoffs. The girls’ tennis team plans to join this list.

“Seeing the other programs do well makes us strive to do better,” Hagerty said. “Our entire athletic department has been really good and we want to go along with that trend.”

While the state playoffs may be months away, steps are already being taken by the Spartans.

“We’ll have to work on consistency and winning matches that matter while staying mentally strong,” Crenshaw said.

South Paulding returns to action on Thursday against Lithia Springs.

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