Both Walton teams appear to be in good shape in the bottom half of the bracket, especially the girls. The Lady Raiders don’t have to worry about face fellow contenders Peachtree Ridge, Roswell or Lambert until the finals.
“I think we have a good draw, having teams like Peachtree Ridge on the other side helps,” Walton coach Christy Page said. “There are still good teams on our side like Brookwood and North Gwinnett.”
There are other playoff teams, howver, that had a harder time getting there than expected as a result of Georgia High School Association’s two by-law that went into effect this season. They also may have a hard time surviving.
The GHSA by-law 2.61 states that athletes who participate in a high school sport during the season may not participate in practice activities during school hours.
For tennis, that means that players who are on the early release program to partake in early afternoon drills are no longer eligible to play on their high school team.
Both Walton teams, North Cobb and KMHS avoided losing top players.
Others were not so lucky.
While coaches have stated the bylaw has been overturned for the 2014 season, there are teams which will have to make due without their most experienced players from last season.
“They will be allowed to do to drills next year as long as it doesn’t take place on school grounds and not administered by a school coach,” Lassiter boys coach Wylie Brown said.
Lassiter, who is the fourth seed out of 5AAAAAA, would be more comfortable facing Brookwood in the first round this week with brothers Daniel and Chris Yun in the singles lineup. Parker Goldstein missed the first half of the season because of afternoon drills but gave them up and joined the team halfway through the season.
Many of the girls on Walton’s team are on the early release program for drills, but chose to commit to high school tennis. The Walton boys lost one player, doubles starter Eric Wagasky, to the new rule.
“It was hard for us because half my team gets out of school early,” Page said. “I think the reason they stayed was because they were all still young. Most of them were sophmores and freshmen last year.”
Pope wasn’t so lucky after its boys and girls each won region titles last season. The boys lost Austin Bates and Kyle Hatfield to the new rule and the Lady Greyhounds are without Kristen Jones, Melina Blasetti and Madison Utberg.
Both Pope teams made the playoffs, however, the boys are the third seed from Region 7AAAAA and the girls are fourth. Even with Northview and Cambridge now in the region, both teams may have yielded better results with their intended roster.
The Pope boys could likely face 5AAAAA champion Allatoona in the second round if they get by Dunowody on the road in the first. The Allatoona girls also won 5AAAAA and have a legitimate shot at returning to the state finals even after moving from Class AAA to Class AAAAA.
Walker, North Cobb Christian, Mount Paran Christian and Whitefield Academy all made the playoffs in the Class A private school boys draw and won’t know their opponents until April 30.