The toughest foe for Ryan Scroggin's squad hasn't necessarily been an opposing team just yet, as the early-season elements have made getting court time quite the challenge.
The Carrollton High School boys' tennis head coach was pleased to see his guys labor through the cold and windy conditions Thursday afternoon to deliver a 5-0 victory over Bremen in a local battle at Sunset Hills Country Club.
"We haven't been able to practice all week long. I think we may have got to practice six times all year. But for all the teams in this area, it's the same. It's a sport that unless you've got an indoor facility, you can't do a whole lot in the rain," Scroggin said. "We don't normally get to play any local schools, so when we had the opportunity to play [Bremen], a lot of the kids take lessons together and they know each other, so it's just a good, fun match."
The Trojans recorded straight-set wins at all five lines, with No. 1 Carver Arant (6-0, 6-1), No. 2 Kane Caldwell (6-2, 6-1) and No. 3 Connor Best (6-1, 6-1) cruising in singles, while the pairings of No. 1 Sam Campbell/Ross Martin (6-0, 6-0) and No. 2 Jon-Jon Richards/Ben Nixon (6-1, 6-2) also picked up victories.
Bremen head coach Dan Gurley knew what he was up against in facing one of the top programs in Class AAAA, but he's been in the same boat when it comes to getting practice time early in the year, as well.
His situation is magnified even more since his squad is so young this spring.
The Blue Devils, who are gunning for a fourth straight Region 5-AA title in 2016, have just one senior in the lineup, as sophomore Clayton Rakestraw is at No. 1 singles, Sam Zimmerman at No. 2 singles is a junior and freshman Jacob Gurley is currently at No. 3 singles.
At doubles, freshman Carson York paired up with sophomore Preston Williamson on Thursday at No. 1, while junior Jake Irvin teamed up with senior Will Sammon at No. 2.
"I think they're fairly comparable. I think whoever's having a better day will be No. 1 doubles. That's what it looks like right now," Gurley said. "At singles, Clayton was No. 1 for us last year and Sam was No. 3 singles last year. Jacob's a freshman and we've got some more freshmen, as well. We have like five or six freshmen, so we're pretty young this year."
Bremen opened the year with a 5-0 win over North Cobb Christian last week and will look to gain experience as the year unfolds.
"I think the boys, depending on how they do, they have some maturing to do during the season. But depending on the draw, you know, last year we went to the elite eight. If we could have had a really good day, we might could have beat Pace," Gurley said.
For the Trojans, who reached the Class AAAA state quarterfinals last year and dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to eventual state champion Marist — marking the closest match the War Eagles had throughout the playoffs — expectations are high once again this year after losing just one starter in the lineup at No. 2 doubles.
"I think it's going to be right up there again. It's just getting everybody to get some good matches in. We start region play next week with Sandy Creek and then we go to Jekyll Island, and that's always some strong competition and a chance to maybe move some kids in the lineup to see where our best matchup is," Scroggin said. "I expect us to make another run in the state playoffs if we keep everybody healthy and everybody focused."
Story by Corey Cusick
Photos by Ricky Stilley and Kim Campbell
Reprinted from Times-Georgian