The Covington News - - SPORTS -

Ben (Wal­ters) was up 5-0 at one point, and as soon as I fin­ished my match, I ran over to cheer him on. He scared me near the end be­cause he had got­ten forced to a tiebreaker, but he came away with the win at the end.”

Wal­ters’ tri­umph sealed the cham­pi­onship for the Peachtree boys, and made Law­son Van Ness out to be a bit of a prophet.

“I told Ben be­fore the match, ‘it’s all gonna come down to you, so you’ve gotta make sure you’re head’s screwed on right,’” Law­son Van Ness said. And he made it. He pulled it out, and it was so cool to see that it was ex­actly how I thought it would be.”

John­son said she also had a good feel­ing ahead of time that her squad would come away hoist­ing cham­pi­onship hard­ware.

“I don’t think there was a time this sea­son that we didn’t think we’d make it here,” she said. “I knew when we got to state and went through our bye match and quar­ter­fi­nals. I knew right then it was go­ing to hap­pen. We were telling each other that we’re gonna beat Unity and we’re gonna win state.”

That con­fi­dent spirit was born out of the way the team com­peted with each other in prac­tice through­out the sea­son, ac­cord­ing to coach Van Ness.

“The big­gest thing, I think, for the girls was just the way they were chal­leng­ing each other in prac­tice,” he said. “It’s not al­ways easy play­ing against friends. It could be dif­fi­cult, but for these girls, it made it fun. I told them straight out, my best play­ers will play. You can be best friends off the court, and we’ll leave as Peachtree Pan­thers, but on the court, you play to win. That’s whether you’re in prac­tice or in a match. And they did that very well, and it paid off.”

For the boys, it was a mat­ter of coach Van Ness see­ing how the brack­ets were shap­ing up, and how that co­in­cided with the fact that his boys were play­ing their best ten­nis of the sea­son.

“I knew with my boys I had solid one and two sin­gles, but we needed a third sin­gles player to step up,” he said. “They were able to do that. Then when we got into the play­offs and saw how things were hap­pen­ing, I told those guys, ‘You have a chance now to win state.’ It was al­ways an ex­pec­ta­tion for us to get there, but we didn’t know re­al­is­ti­cally if we could make it there. But after the way we com­peted in the reg­u­lar sea­son, all of a sud­den, we had a le­git chance to do it, and they got the job done.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the job they did stay­ing fo­cused. It truly payed off for them.”

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