Woodstock still has a lot of depth, Cherokee’s Marshall Brown is the singles player to beat and Etowah will be a tough opponent. Sequoyah will probably be taking some lumps for another year, while Creekview introduces a new coach, Randy Clemmons.
The biggest change in the landscape comes from River Ridge, which rose two classifications into AAAA and will probably be more competitive now that it won’t be pitted against private schools.
Woodstock lost three of its seven starters, but its returning players have made strides in the offseason.
Coach Ashley Potz said that competing against teams like Milton and Roswell in Region 5AAAAAA will be tough, but the Wolverines’ prospects are good.
Woodstock graduated Josh Bertram and David Marcello, but doubles player David Draghiceanu will be moving to No. 1 singles to fill part of the void. Draghiceanu, a senior, played singles two years ago before teaming with Bertram at No. 1 doubles last year.
Ivan Vizcaya, who played No. 1 singles the last two seasons, will move to No. 2.
“We have some young guys that have made big strides,” said Potz, who feels that Region 5AAAAAA will be as tough as any region she’s coached in. “We will just have to see what we have coming up and what the other teams have left.”
Cherokee returns the reigning Cherokee Tribune Player of the Year Marshall Brown. Now a junior, Brown will be the anchor of a young team that graduated Drew Hulse, Danny Mason, Austin Nuchols and Drew Welch.
Etowah returns two all-county players in Jake Pollack and Kevin Mendes, but they will be filling the void left by the graduation of Jake Sebring.
After taking the team to the second round of the Class AA state playoffs last season, River Ridge coach Lynn Freeman is excited to see what the Knights can do this year. While they have made the move up to Class AAAA, they also return the bulk of their team, which has yet to have a graduating class.
“It’s actually to our benefit,” Freeman said of moving up from Class AA. “We are glad to be moving out of that region.”
River Ridge opens the season Feb. 14 against Cherokee, but it will be missing a couple of key players still participating in basketball.
One of those basketball players, Jeremy Mims, who suffered just one loss at the Knights’ No. 1 singles player last year, will return, along with the undefeated No. 1 doubles team of Jake Hicks and Clay McIntryre. The No. 2 doubles team of Matt Polley and Kamryn Bernhard, who suffered just one loss in 2012, will also be back.
“The same seven have been playing together for three years,” Freeman said. “This is our big year. We will be losing a lot next year.”
Freshmen Ben VanHout and Grayson Chumley will also see significant playing time as the Knights pursue another region title.
Sequoyah, now under the direction of Angela Chambers, will open its season Thursday at Pickens.