The Lady Raiders have won 133 straight, one shy of the state mark of 134 straight wins achieved by the Taylor County High School girls basketball team from 1968-72, according to the National High School Sports Record Book. Walton hasn't lost a match since it fell to Chattahoochee in the 2003 state quarterfinals.
The Lady Raiders will be in good position to capture another state title and extend their winning streak with nine seniors, and all of their starters, back.
But new Region 5AAAAA rival Etowah is expected to pose a challenge, with an experienced team led by singles standout Nicole LaDuca, while Marietta and Lassiter also have depth and experienced players.
All three of Walton's projected singles starters have signed with Division I schools. Ace Emily Zabor has signed with Alabama, No. 2 Maxie Weinberg is headed to Connecticut and No. 3 Stephanie Falcon will play at UNC Greensboro.
Walton also has other college-bound athletes on its roster. Claire Marshall is going to DePauw, a Division III school in Indiana, and doubles standout Amelia McIsaac is bound for Division II Rollins in Florida.
Although Walton's lineup will largely be intact from last year, coach Roberta Manheim isn't afraid to make changes.
"Until we have a few practices, I really don't know if the lineup will stay the same or not," Manheim said. "With the winning streak on the line, every match is a challenge. I know the girls feel the pressure to win, but they have shown throughout the years that they can handle the pressure and succeed. Marietta and Etowah are both strong teams and we're looking forward to meeting them."
With nine seniors leaving in the Class of 2011, many might question how long Walton will be able to maintain its streak if the Lady Raiders do go undefeated this season en route to another title.
This year's seniors did replace the standout 2007 class that consisted of Cameron Ellis (Georgia), Katie Kilborn (Vanderbilt) and Kelly Tidwell (Richmond), which means another crop of experienced young players could be ready take over next season.
But first things first, the Lady Raiders would like to get through the 2011 season.
"Honestly, I'm not even thinking about next year," Manheim said. "When Cameron, Katie and Kelly left was when this group of seniors came. Right now, my only concern is making their senior year as memorable as the last three have been."
The Walker girls, who made the Class A state finals last season, will be revamping their roster after losing five starters to graduation, led by Katherine Oudin (Furman).
Senior Abby Hollenstein and sophomore Carly Bloom are expected to lock down two of the singles positions. Emory Kole and Kelly Shirley are also returning, and the Lady Wolverines have freshmen Holly Harkins and Caroline Kunett who may factor into the starting lineup.
The Hillgrove girls made the rise into Class AAAAA after making the second round of the AAAA state playoffs for three straight years and the Lady Hawks have three freshmen newcomers who could give the team depth with their experience.
Kennesaw Mountain, which finished third in Region 5AAAAA last season, will have to replace Caitlin Kitchen, who is now playing at Georgia Southern, but it returns eight upperclassmen with experience.
Harrison should be better their 6-10 record last season with most of its players coming back.