Al­covy girls ten­nis ex­cited for re­turn trip to state

The Covington News - - SPORTS - GABRIEL STOVALL gsto­vall@cov­news.com Tyler Wil­liams also con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Per­haps few peo­ple other than the coaches and play­ers listed on the Al­covy girls ten­nis team ros­ter saw a state tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance com­ing for the Lady Tigers.

Af­ter all, Al­covy was sched­uled to match up against a Grove­town team in the Re­gion 2-AAAAAA tour­na­ment that had beaten the Lady Tigers twice dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. Al­covy would need to pull off quite the up­set in or­der to ad­vance to its first state tour­na­ment in three years.

And that’s ex­actly what it did.

The Tigers throt­tled Grove­town 4-1 Tues­day, al­low­ing them to ad­vance to the re­gion semi­fi­nals against Green­brier, but more im­por­tantly award­ing them that elu­sive state tour­na­ment berth. And al­though it may have been an un­ex­pected oc­cur­rence for most who’ve kept an eye on Re­gion 2-AAAAAA ten­nis, for Al­covy coach Ed­ward Kim, it was the ex­pected pay­off.

“The girls qualifying for state is just a byprod­uct of all of the hard work that they’ve done this year,” Kim said. “We knew that this re­gion would be a lot more dif­fi­cult than last year. Just about all these schools in Au­gusta have their own coun­try clubs nearby with their pro­fes­sional per­sonal coaches. Even Her­itage has a ten­nis cen­ter down the road.

“All we had was each other. So to know that we beat all the ex­pec­ta­tions that was put on us means ev­ery­thing to this team.”

In so do­ing, Al­covy avenged its two ear­lier reg­u­lar sea­son losses against Grove­town in im­pres­sive fash­ion. Madi­son Young and Ju­lia Towns won 6-2, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-3 re­spec­tively in their Nos. 2 and 3 sin­gles matches. In dou­bles play, the top duo of Anna Claire New­sham and Ha­ley Carter grabbed 6-2, 6-1 wins, and No. 2 Dou­bles play­ers Cynthia Twiford and Emma Wad­dell won their match 6-2, 6-1.

Al­covy also got past Her- itage in the re­gion tour­na­ment – an­other team that handed the Tigers reg­u­lar sea­son losses. Kim says all of that back­story makes the post­sea­son achieve­ments that much sweeter.

“Dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son we lost to both Grove­town and Her­itage in heart­break­ing fash­ion twice,” Kim said. “We also went through an un­com­mon amount of in­juries like noth­ing I have ever seen on any ten­nis team be­fore. I never even re­ally got to play my dream lineup un­til the last few weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son.”

Thus the lack of shock for Kim and his team. The way the Tigers are play­ing now is in­dica­tive, Kim says, of what could’ve been had the squad been healthy all sea­son long.

“Our re­solve and de­ter­mi­na­tion was re­ally tested dur­ing that time,” he said.

Their stamina was also tested – a test which Kim says his team passed with fly­ing col­ors. That’s part of what makes the coach so con­fi­dent. Thanks to a sea­son-long fo­cus on con­di­tion­ing filled with run­ning, burpees, agility lad­ders and weight lift­ing “with­out even touch­ing the rac­quet” dur­ing prac­tice.

Need­less to say, it was a sit­u­a­tion where the girls liked the re­sults more than the process.

“They gated it, and they hated me for it,” he said. “But they’ll all ad­mit now that that made the dif­fer­ence in the end. These last few matches be­fore play­offs and through­out the play­offs thus far, we have sim­ply been out­last­ing our op­po­nents out on the court, es­pe­cially as the weather has got­ten hot­ter. As a team we are con­di­tioned to be out there and out there longer than our op­po­nents.”

Al­covy will travel to face Val­dosta next week in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state tour­na­ment. And that doesn’t phase Kim, nor his team at all, given what they’ve al­ready over­come.

“With ev­ery­one fi­nally back and through an equal amound of faith, tears and sweat, we up­set two teams thus far,” he said. “And we’re look­ing to up­set a few more at state.”

Other county ten­nis squads ad­vance to post­sea­son

Three other teams will join the Al­covy girls bunch in the state tour­na­ment this year, in­clud­ing both East­side’s girls and boys teams, and the New­ton boys.

The East­side boys fin­ished as re­gion run­ners up to Wood­ward which net­ted the Ea­gles a first round home match against Howard next week in the Class AAAA state tour­na­ment. And the Rams, who fin­ished fourth in Re­gion 8-AAAAAAA, will travel to play Re­gion 6-AAAAAAA cham­pion Peachtree Ridge.

Mean­while, the East­side girls will also go on the road to face a yet-to-be­de­ter­mined foe in the Class AAAA girls’ first round. East­side fin­ished third in Re­gion 4-AAAA be­hind re­gion cham­pion Wood­ward and run­ner up Druid Hills.

Stay tuned to our web­site, www.cov­news.com, for state tour­na­ment up­dates through the week.

All we had was each other. So to know that we beat all the ex­pec­ta­tions that was put on us means ev­ery­thing to this team.” — Ed­ward Kim, Al­covy coach

Sub­mit­ted photo | The Cov­ing­ton News

The Al­covy girls ten­nis team will com­pete in the state tour­na­ment for the first time since 2014.

Sub­mit­ted photo | The Cov­ing­ton News

East­side fresh­man Abbey Grace Ven­ham is will help lead a solid Lady Ea­gles team into the state tour­na­ment this week.

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