The Knights have performed well against both county opponents and in their Region 7AAAA schedule. To that end, coach Lynn Freeman said she plans on testing her team a bit more before the region tournament begins April 17 in Dalton. Freeman scheduled a match with North Cobb, an undefeated Class AAAAAA program, for April 15.
As the No. 1 seed in its subregion, River Ridge should have an easy match in the first round of the region tournament. In fact, Freeman foresees little challenge going into the state playoffs.
“I think we can make it all the way to the (state) quarterfinals,” she said. “I’ve looked at all the numbers and all the stats and I don’t think we should have a problem making it that far.”
While her players will be taking a week away from competition during spring break, Freeman said many of them will be on the court in some fashion. Several of the players will be vacationing together with their families and will likely play.
In Wednesday’s match against Creekview, Jeremy Mims defeated Tommy Aiken 6-1, 6-4, while Ben Von Hout defeated Eric Daniel 6-2, 6-1 and Jake Hicks defeated Lawson Stansell 6-1, 6-0.
In doubles action, Matt Polley and Kamryn Bernhardt teamed to defeat Daniel Dupoux and Josh Torralba 6-4, 6-3. Gabe Mims and Clay McIntyre were 6-1, 6-0 winners over Landon Egeland and Michael Staport.
Of the 11 players on the River Ridge roster, nine were on the team that reached the playoffs last season. Von Hout is the only starter who was not a part of that team, but he can certainly hold his own. The freshman is undefeated against county opponents.
Freeman said she is using a mixture of youth and experience in her lineup.
“It’s been working for us,” she said. “Let’s just hope it keeps working.”
Unlike many of River Ridge’s other athletic programs, the tennis team isn’t loaded with seniors, with Jeremy Mims and Bernhardt the only two.
Freeman, however, felt this would be a special season.
“We had a great group last year,” she said. “I knew. I just knew this would be a good year.”
Hicks, the team’s No. 3 singles player, has been nursing a strained calf muscle. Freeman is hoping that Hicks will return to full strength in the two weeks before the region tournament, but if that doesn’t happen, she already has a plan. In fact, the coach has thought through a variety of scenarios in order to get the team as prepared as possible.
“I want to win the first state title for River Ridge,” she said. “I think it’s entirely possible.”