The Lady Purple Hurricanes, who advanced last week to the Sweet 16 with a 4-0 win over Lanier, will be on the road Tuesday at 4 p.m. to play St. Pius X, the No. 1 seed in Region 5-AAA that is currently ranked the No. 2 team in the GACA state coaches poll. St. Pius X (10-5) advanced by defeating Central Carrollton, 3-0.
Cartersville head coach Melissa Moore said one thing in the favor of the Lady Canes (11-3) is the quality of tennis teams they have been facing across the net so far this year.
“This has been an exceptional season for our team,” Moore said. “The girls have played against some very strong teams and have sort of come into their own as the season has progressed. We have kind of held our own with them.”
She said that was the purpose in playing teams such as Carrollton, Walker and Cherokee early on. “We wanted to play somebody of a high caliber and that really helped us when we played in our region.”
That region play also was a character-builder, too, as it included Allatoona, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the state coaches poll with a 20-1 record.
Moore said the Lady Canes also benefited from the practices by the team members, who had definite ideas about how to improve their tennis skills.
“Our girls’ goals were, first, of course, to win their region and go to the state playoffs,” she said. “We were able to achieve our goal of making the playoffs and one of the reasons is that our girls each had their own goals about their game that they worked on.
“It’s easy to coach kids who have a lot of desire to improve their game and to help their team win.”
The team also has had to handle some challenges, adjusting its playing order when there was a need. That need came early, too.
Adrienne Green, who plays at the No. 1 singles line for the Lady Canes, was not available at the start of the tennis season because of her participation on the Cartersville High girls basketball team.
“Darien DeFrench had to play in our No. 1 spot until Adrienne could be with us,” Moore said. “Darien worked extremely hard for us in that spot. As a freshman she really showed a lot of leadership potential.”
Moore said Green had a back injury earlier in the season but was able to play through it and now is healthy.
“Adrienne came in like she hadn’t missed a beat. She won her first match and has been pretty much unstoppable ever since.”
DeFrench moved seamlessly back to the No. 2 singles slot when Adrienne returned to the team, and Maddy McGinnis has been difficult for opposing teams to handle all season at the No. 3 singles position.
Cartersville also has gotten strong play at the No. 1 doubles line, usually from Mallory Walker and Ali Norwood.
Annabeth and Charleston Fox, sisters, also have moved into the No. 2 doubles position and played beyond their freshmen years.
“They work well together,” Moore added.