Talent level remains strong as Woodstock bids to contend again
by Tyler Spinnenweber
March 05, 2014 04:00 AM | 1874 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Samford-bound senior Savannah Wood among a handful of key players back from the 2013 season, Woodstock stands a shot at cementing its place among the elite of girls tennis in Cherokee County.
With Samford-bound senior Savannah Wood among a handful of key players back from the 2013 season, Woodstock stands a shot at cementing its place among the elite of girls tennis in Cherokee County.
With the girls tennis season underway, Woodstock will try to remain the premier team in Cherokee County.

Meanwhile, Etowah and Cherokee will rebuild in their bids to catch up.

With the weather finally clearing up, coaches and players alike were eager to get back on the court.

Woodstock has qualified for the state tournament the last four years, making it to the quarterfinals last year, and it will look to keep the streak going. After finishing 14-3-1 last season, the Lady Wolverines will be led by senior Savannah Wood, the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

Wood, who only lost two matches last year, recently signed to play at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Also helping out Wood this year will be senior Lauren Nielly and junior Gabrielle Wood, two returning all-county selections.

Despite losing some key players to graduation, Woodstock coach Jeff Wagner is excited to add some new talent to the roster, with the expectation that they will push for playing time early.

“We want to keep improving as a team,” Wagner said. “We want to win the Region 5AAAAAA championship.

Region rivals Etowah and Cherokee will feature young teams.

Although she has a young team, coach Billie Morgan expects Etowah to improve from its 7-8 record last year and also to make a return to the state playoffs again. The Lady Eagles lost Carlie Gilbert and Jules Coons to graduation, but they return all of their main singles players from 2013, including Hannah Ayers, Sam Kaczaral and Nikki Gilner.

Several of Morgan’s juniors are currently being looked at by colleges.

Coach Angie Pannell will have the tough task of rebuilding a Cherokee team that finished 4-8 and graduated six seniors.

Right now, Pannell’s lineup is uncertain due to a series of injuries, but her squad is littered with freshmen who will have four years to grow. Maddie Gressley, a senior who has been on the varsity squad since her freshman year, will be the No. 1 singles player as a group of freshmen play behind her and in doubles.

Pannell is hoping that her squad can bond as a team, and she hopes to see constant improvement throughout the year.

Like Cherokee, Sequoyah’s lineup in 7AAAAA is not set in stone yet due to the weather. Coach Karin Eubanks and her team expect to finish first in their subregion and improve on last year’s 6-7 record and appearance in the second-round of the state tournament.

The Lady Chiefs’ No. 1 singles player, Taylor Dodd, will be back for her sophomore season and she will be joined by her twin sister, Morgan, who looks to move to No. 2 singles behind her sister. Sequoyah will feature several new players this season to go along with a group of four seniors.

Eubanks believes her team has the experience and leadership that will balance out their youth.

Creekview will have a new face leading its girls program.

Coach Amanda Dyer inherited a team that finished 9-5 in 2013, including a 6-4 record in Region 7AAAAA. Much like Sequoyah, Dyer and Creekview will have their eyes on finishing first in the subregion.

River Ridge coach Melissa Pierce is eager to get started and improve on last year’s losing season. Pierce’s goals are to compete and contend for a subregion title.
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