It's been a long time coming and at last the Carrollton High School boys' tennis team is back in the state semifinals with a 4-0 victory against St. Pius X on Friday at Sunset Hills Country Club.
The Trojans have gotten to the quarterfinals plenty of times over the past few years, but have been knocked out just shy of the final four in each instance — but not this time as Ryan Scroggin's bunch came out strong and will compete in the Class AAAA semifinals on Monday at fellow top seed North Oconee, weather-permitting, in a 4 p.m. bout.
"Like I just told the kids and coach [Stacy] Lawler told the kids, it's very fulfilling to finally get over the hump and finally get past this quarterfinal round. But these kids want a ring and we've got two more rounds in order to obtain that goal," Scroggin said. "We feel like we've got a very good chance to do so if we stick together."
The first semifinal appearance since the early 1990s came to be as the No. 1 doubles pairing of Ross Martin and Samuel Campbell got the first win 6-1, 6-0. Shortly after, Carver Arant followed with a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 1 singles. No. 2 singles Kane Caldwell wrapped things up (6-3, 6-4) just before No. 3 single Connor Best (6-3, 6-0) won his match. The No. 2 doubles team of Jon-Jon Richards and Ben Nixon was pulled down a set, but fighting back and up in the second set.
"We got the first set in all the lines except [No.] 2 doubles and they were ahead in the second set, so I felt good. At no time did I feel like we were going to lose a match, but it got tight here towards the end at line 2 singles," Scroggin said. "But Kane's a battler and got the job done."
Not that the Trojans have lost much at all this season on a line, and even less so as a team, but lately Arant has seemed like an almost guaranteed win. Even if that is the case, it still takes two more victories to take a match, and Scroggin doesn't want his team getting complacent.
"We've got to get three lines. I tell the kids all the time, 'It doesn't matter if you're playing Line 1 singles or if you're playing Line 2 doubles, every line counts the same,'" Scroggin said. "So this team here lately has come together and we had a nice crowd out."
Standing between Carrollton and a trip to the Clayton County International Park on May 7 will be North Oconee, which defeated Grady on Friday.
The exact year the Trojans were in the state semifinals last is unknown, but it was around 1992-93 and the last state championship came in 1983 when they won it three times in four years. If this group wants to end the 33-year drought, it will have to stick together and keep focused on the task at hand.
"One match at a time. North Oconee, they've got a good team," Scroggin said. "We had good support, the kids are very competitive."
Story by Jordon Hofeditz
Reprinted from Times-Georgian