The rebuilding process for the Carrollton High School boys' tennis team may have arrived a little earlier than anticipated, but now it's a matter of piling on a few more layers to the foundation this postseason.
The region champion and top-seeded Trojans dominated the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs on Tuesday afternoon, securing a 3-0 victory over fourth-seeded Johnson-Gainesville to set up a second-round rumble against the winner of Thursday's battle between No. 2 Southwest DeKalb/No. 3 Decatur next week.
"I think we surprised a lot of teams, including ourselves," Carrollton head coach Ryan Scroggin said. "We did win the region again, so it's been a successful season even though we are very young. Having only one senior this year, I know the future's going to be bright."
With Ross Martin serving as the only senior in the starting lineup — and actually the only upperclassmen — the Trojans basically have an entirely new squad on the court this spring, but the victories continue to rack up for the program.
The Trojans are led by a pair of freshmen at the top-two singles spots with No. 1 Aidan Coleman (6-2, 6-0) and No. 2 Matthew Harvey (6-1, 6-0) accounting for two of the wins on Tuesday, while Martin and sophomore Will Brown (6-1, 6-0) also won in straight sets at No. 1 doubles.
Sophomore Harrison Rogers (1-6, 4-2) was in a tight battle at No. 3 singles when he was pulled off the court, while the No. 2 doubles pairing of freshman Nicholas Hawkins and sophomore Noah Kamshlian (6-2, 3-2) appeared to be on their way to a victory.
Scroggin said it's been pretty neat to witness the season unfold, especially considering how there were so many question marks when it got started.
"They've done great. Line one and line two are freshmen. They played on the junior high team, but junior high tennis and high school varsity tennis is two totally different things," Scroggin said. "They've done well. This has been a fun group to watch. They're all very close together. A lot of them do things together outside of tennis, so it's been a smooth year."
Even though it was a young group, Scroggin still put together a tough non-region schedule and he thought his young players are now better for it at this stage.
"We've taken some lumps through the season, but I told them up front that I'm going to play teams that are better than us. We played McIntosh, we played Woodward, we played Columbus. Those are senior-laden teams and I just wanted to see how we would do against them," Scroggin said. "We didn't win some of those matches, but we hung in there with them."
Obviously, it's also been a transition year for Martin, who had been playing with his former teammates for the past three years only to have a totally new group thrust onto the scene for his final season in Black and Gold.
"He's been very positive with them. He wanted to have a good senior season and none of us knew how this season would go," Scroggin said. "Here we are with another region championship and one of 16 teams left in the state."
Looking ahead to next week, Scroggin is excited to see how far this young squad can go. And with every step, it's more state playoff experience for the future.
"The freshmen, I think they've surprised themselves. At the start of the year they were saying, 'By the time we're juniors we're going to be pretty good.' I told them, 'You're going to be better than you think this year,'" Scroggin said. "But with Ross being the only one that has played in the varsity lineup and Will Brown was part of the team last year, so he's seen it. But this year he is actually getting to play in the lineup. It's been a fun season and not it's on the to next round and see what we can do."