Rivals Cedartown High School and Rockmart High School will meet Thursday in an early season tennis showdown.
While neither team is in the same region with each other, and the games will only be non-region affairs, they will still be important games for two programs looking to get momentum early this season.
It will be the season openers for the Cedartown teams, however, the Rockmart squads have already gotten their feet wet.
After getting rained out of their season opener on Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Rockmart High School Yellow Jackets tennis team was finally able to get the season started last Friday.
Playing at home against Pepperell, the Yellow Jackets swept the Dragons 5-0 to start the 2012-13 season off on the right foot.
“The team looked great,” head coach Wayne Brooks said. “We have great depth with some of the new players like Dustin Adams, Jacob Summerville and Jordan Williams, who are all either freshmen or sophomores.”
Mason Barnette won for Rockmart at No. 1 singles behind what Brooks called powerful ground strokes, accurate volleys and booming serves.
Barnette defeated Pepperell’s top player, Grafton Flock, by the scores of 6-0, 6-2.
At No. 2 singles, Matthew Giudice defeated Pepperell’s Mason Clemones, 6-1, 6-0.
“Matthew used his skills of out-thinking his opponents, mixed with his powerful ground strokes and serve to win,” Brooks said.
At No. 3 singles, Tristan Adams was able to outlast Pepperell’s Marlin Wright 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to earn a victory.
At No. 1 doubles, Steven Dean and Tyler Baulding-Woods took down the Dragons duo of Asumi Askew and Noah Whorton, 6-3, 6-0.
In the final match of the night, Rockmart’s No. 2 doubles team consisting of Jonathan Badon and Tyler Black earned a dramatic victory.
They won the first set 6-2, before losing the second set 6-4. Having split sets, the teams played a 10-point tiebreaker for the third set.
In the last set, Badon and Black pulled out a 10-4 victory to give Rockmart the sweep.
The Lady Jackets, meanwhile, lost to Pepperell 3-2.
“We lost, but it was very close,” Lady Jackets head coach Malin Evans said.
Morgan Thompson played at No. 1 singles for Rockmart and defeated Hannah Mathis 6-4, 6-4.
“Morgan played so smart, and the team could not be more proud of her performance,” Evans said.
Rockmart’s Kristin Stone lost at No. 2 singles to Kailey Treglow, 6-1, 6-0.
“Kristin faced a very good skilled and consistent player,” Stone said. “Unfortunately, she tried to get in the match but could not. She tried her best, though.”
At No. 3 singles, Savannah Hudson lost to Breanna Landers, 7-5, 6-1.
“She started out very strong in her first match ever for Rockmart High School,” Evans said. “She was very close to winning her match, too.”
At No. 1 doubles, Rockmart’s Rae Darden and Kaitlin Burns defeated Blair Addison and Callie Nash, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“They played very smart, and came back when being behind,” Evans said. “They never gave up. They played consistent and excellent doubles strategies. They knew where to be and where to go to help their partner out.”
At No. 2 doubles, Ashmi Jariwala and Jennifer Badon lost to Mally Clemones and Alicia Johnston, 6-2, 6-2.
“They tried their very best and started out the match very well, but lost in two sets,” Evans said.
Despite the loss, Evans saw a lot of positive things from her team.
“Overall, I am very proud of the girls performance and their work ethic,” Evans said.
After Thursday’s clash, Cedartown will host Jacksonville on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Rockmart will play again on Tuesday, Feb. 26 against Region 4-AAA Jackson-Atlanta.