The tennis programs at Rockmart High School have risen to the top ranks of the region and state in recent years, and they are working hard to make up for lost time.
Both Rockmart’s girls and boys are having solid starts to the 2021 season, with the Lady Jackets picking up wins over Coahulla Creek and Cedartown last week to improve to 8-0, while the Jackets picked up the win over the Bulldogs to move to 5-3 on the year.
After the 2020 Georgia High School Association tennis season was canceled due to the increasing threat of COVID-19, the Jackets were forced to wait another year to try and defend their 2019 Class AA state championship.
Meanwhile, the Lady Jackets had reached the Final Four after claiming their third straight region title.
The rosters may seem a bit different for both squads since then, but the talent level remains high for the teams.
Hosting Region 6-3A foe Coahulla Creek last Thursday, Rockmart’s girls swept the visitors 5-0 while head coach Kent Mathis switched his lineup around some.
Ava Shae Culver stepped in at No. 1 singles and won 6-1, 6-4, while Amber Massey took her No. 2 singles match with a dominant 6-0, 6-0 final. Freshman Emma Scott, just off of her season with the Rockmart girls’ basketball team, stepped on the courts and got a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 3 singles.
Doubles action saw Megan Clanton and Maddie Owens win their No. 1 doubles match 6-0, 6-1, while sisters Maddie Ann Harp and Alli Harp left no doubt in their No. 2 doubles match, winning 6-0, 6-0.
A few long matches tested the Jackets limits against Coahulla Creek, which went on to win the overall contest 3-2.
Nathan Barrett dropped his first set at No. 3 singles 2-6, but fought back to take two in a row from his opponent — 6-3, 6-4 — to clinch a victory. Rockmart’s other win came at No. 1 doubles as Tyler Paschal and Mark Blalock captured a hard-earned 6-4, 7-6 decision.
No. 2 singles player Gavin Tan won his second set against his counterpart from Coahulla Creek, but lost 6-3, 1-6, 6-4. The Jackets are 2-1 in region play, while the Lady Jackets are 3-0.
At home again on Friday, Rockmart captured wins over cross-county rival Cedartown, with the boys winning 3-2, and the girls 5-0.
On the boys’ side, Cedartown’s No. 1 singles Tanner Arnold fell to Thomas Vest 6-4, 6-3. Rockmart also took the No. 3 singles match, as Nathan Barrett topped Sam Arnold 6-0, 6-1, and the No. 1 doubles match where the duo of Tyler Paschal and Mark Blalock was too much for Cedartown’s Micah Puckett and Braden Shelton, taking down the Bulldogs 6-0, 6-0.
The No. 1 singles match between Cedartown’s Reagan Clarke and Rockmart’s Morgan Earwood was a classic. Earwood took the first set 7-6 before Clarke took the second set 7-6. In the deciding set, Earwood gave the Lady Jackets a point with a 6-4 victory.
Rockmart swept the rest of the matches as No. 2 singles Eisley Pope took down Alyssa Parham 6-1, 6-0, before No. 3 singles Ansley Lanier topped Tori Blankenship 7-5, 6-4.
In the No. 1 doubles match Haley Forrister and Edy Lee lost a 6-0, 6-1 match against Maddie Ann Harp and Megan Clanton, while the No. 2 doubles match saw Rockmart’s Amber Massey and Chloe Peace win 6-1, 6-0 over Lusero Escutia and Anna Lee Walters.
Rockmart is set to be back on the courts Tuesday, March 9, on the road against Murray County at the Calhoun City Tennis Courts, while Adairsville comes to Rockmart on Thursday, March 11. Matches are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. both days.