CONYERS - It was a banner year for Heritage's tennis teams as both the boys and girls teams captured subregion titles.
The Heritage boys eventually advanced to state after mowing down the competition on their way to winning their second straight Region 8-AAAA title.
"Winning the region championship again was definitely one of the big highlights for us this season," said Heritage boys coach Chuck Landy. "Last year, we kind of slipped in and no one really knew anything about us. This year, with the group we had coming back, we were expected to be strong - and we were.
"We had a fantastic year. We went to the region tournament and came out and played extremely well for two days. That was a big accomplishment."
Heritage entered the state playoffs with the goal of returning to the semifinals. But that run ended at the hands of Marist.
"When the playoffs started, we had a good first two rounds," Landy said. "The second round especially, we beat a solid Cherokee team. They were real competitive. In the third round, we went up against Marist, and we had a chance to win. They (Marist) ended up finishing second in the state and lost to Woodward in the state finals. Still, we hung right in there and had a shot at beating them. We just came up a little short.
"We were disappointed at the time, but when we look back on it now, we're real proud of what the team was able to accomplish."
Landy said the secret to their success was both the hard work his players put in before the season, and the way the team came together during the season.
"We had fantastic team chemistry and a bunch of really unselfish players who always tried to put the team ahead of themselves and not worry about who was playing where," Landy said. "Before that, the amount of time they put in during the
offseason was big. They practiced over the summer and played on other teams in the fall. They just enjoyed going out there and playing all the time.
"We told them if we were going to win a region championship, we were going to do it in June, not in April. They knew they had to get their rackets out over the summer and get better, and that's exactly what they did."
The Lady Patriots also had a fantastic start to the season, winning all of their subregion matches. But their season came to an abrupt end when the Lady Patriots were ousted in the first round of the region tournament.
"When we started the year, we set the goal of winning the subregion, and we did. We went undefeated through the subregion," Heritage girls coach Brian Smith said. "Unfortunately, we were knocked out in the first round of the region tournament. It was kind of a bittersweet ending, but we know that we had a very young team and most of our team is coming back next season."
Smith said he's proud of what his young team was able to accomplish and he's looking for even better things next season.
"I'm real proud of the girls and the way they played last season," Smith said. "Our goal now is to work hard over the offseason, come back next year and hopefully have a stronger showing in the region tournament."
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.