CONYERS - The Salem girls tennis team finished its 2008 subregion slate with an 8-2 record, while the Salem boys were 2-8.
Even though the teams finished the season with very different records, both coaches took away both positive and negative things from the season.
"I'm pretty pleased with the way we finished, even though we didn't get the respect that we deserved," Salem girls coach Arthur Hawkins said.
Hawkins, whose team finished second in 8-AAAA South, said his players were almost there this year.
"Maturity was the key to our success. But, I feel that if we had a little more leadership, we could have been even better," Hawkins said. "I don't know if they really felt like they could ever beat Heritage. You have to believe in yourself - that's where it starts."
Besides developing more confidence, Hawkins said the Lady Seminoles will need to focus more on offseason workouts if they are to stay competitive in the region.
On the other side, coach Kevin Crabb knew the 2008 season would be a rebuilding year.
With that in mind, he was simply looking for a team that would show consistent improvement.
"I definitely feel like we improved this year," he said. "If you look at the second half of the year, like the matches we lost to Rockdale 3-2, which was second in the region. We almost beat Cedar and lost in a tiebreaker. The first time we played Cedar, we lost 4-1. We made improvements and everybody could see it. We were just a point away in at least two or three of the matches we lost.
"Parents and everybody else noticed the improved play. They got more confident, they practiced hard and it resulted in improvements. We played close with all of the top teams in our region, except Heritage. We really didn't get blown out by any means. We were very athletic, we just lacked a lot of experience. I feel that there was a lot of growth."
Crabb also feels that the Seminoles will continue to make strides next season.
"As far as I know, many of the guys who were emerging last year are coming back," he said. "Guys like Logan Gunzenhauser, Taylor Horton, Blake Hullett, Austin McCullers and Samuel Middlebrooks should all be coming back."
Brandon Evans can be reached at email@example.com.