NCA looks to repeatBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
The Newton County Academy tennis team reached the pinnacle of tennis as they won both the boys and girls Class AA state championships last year.
Head coach Pete Mazzella will have to reload if he’s going to make another title run this year with the loss of six seniors, four of whom are playing college tennis this season.
“I’m really excited about this season,” Mazzella said. “We graduated six seniors and four of them are playing college tennis and one more could have played... But we have so many coming up that have waited their turn. We will have to work harder than we have to be able to compete at the state level again.”
NCA is coming off its best season on the courts, which has led to increased interest in the program.
“As good as we have been the last couple of years, the excitement is there,” Mazzella said. “It’s a great atmosphere to see people excited about tennis and to see the kids participating.”
Both teams have plenty of holes to fill and Mazzella said there are no clear answers on who is going where.
On the girls’ side, Piper Rose and Marla Graham return after winning the state championship at the No. 2 girls doubles. Mazzella said they will play one of the two doubles positions.
Also competing for playing time on the team is Anna Moore, Tori Evans, senior Kayle Douglas, Ashley Barrett and Anna Turner. Mazzella said newcomer Kelli Hollingsworth has also been impressive and will see be in the lineup somewhere.
On the boys’ side, Ethan McDill and Luke Alexander are reunited after winning No. 2 boys doubles two years ago while Micah Douglas won No. 2 boys singles last year. Douglas will likely have to move to the No. 1 spot that was manned by Meridian signee and No. 1 boys singles state champion Chase Rigdon.
Also competing for a starting position is Tripp Blassingame, Patrick Williams, Eli Finnegan, Jordan Mason, Jamie Chapman, McCoy Compton, Wesley Chapman, Gatlin Rose and Reed Terrell.
“We are going to have to work harder this year,” Mazzella said. “I feel like we have the parts to compete, we just have to figure out where to put every body. I think we have a good shot, we just have a lot of work to do.”