That’s what the Walker boys are experiencing.
The Wolverines are having to replace six of the seven starters who led them to the Class A private-school championship in 2013. Junior Rob Walsh, who played No. 3 singles in the state finals, is the lone returner.
Walker lost each of its starting doubles players — Will Chocallo, Daniel Sosnovsky, Austin Newsome and Sloan Coolbroth — along with singles standouts Derrick Brown and Alan Norsworthy.
Not all is lost, though, as the Wolverines have plenty of returning reserves, plus four new freshmen and a senior who can fill the many vacated positions, but Walker will likely endure some growing pains before Area 4A play begins.
“We will be inexperienced,” longtime Walker coach Barry Foy said. “It will take time for us to determine our best lineup. Our goal this year is to make the state tournament, and a lot depends on how well our freshmen develop.”
With Walker possibly regrouping, this could be the year North Cobb Christian wins Area 4A with a lineup full of experienced juniors, led by Riley Malonson.
North Cobb is in a similar situation as Walker after making its first Class AAAAAA state championship appearance. The Warriors are having to replace the majority of their starting lineup, including their top two singles players in Jaryd Reese and Andre Canino.
With former Wheeler boys coach Ed Hullender taking over the North Cobb program, junior Ronak Mody and sophomore Jack Tuchmann, who played No. 1 doubles last season, will lead a squad of mostly younger players.
“Our losses from last year’s state runner-up team were significant, and those great players cannot be replaced immediately,” Hullender said. “However, I do believe that we have some talented players who can step up.”
Pope, which won a Class AAAA state title in 2011, should boast a stronger team this spring, as will Walton.
The east Cobb teams are already experienced in doubles, and they’re each bringing back singles players who were ineligible last year when the Georgia High School Association passed a rule of not allowing players to train during school hours, affecting those who left school early to attend afternoon drills.
Now that the rule has been lifted by the GHSA, Walton will have senior Eric Wagasky back, and Pope will welcome Austin Bates. And Lassiter is projected to have senior Daniel Yun return after he missed his junior year.
“With the addition of Austin Bates, singles will be our strength,” said Pope coach Victoria Kemper, who was already counting on singles specialists Dominic Allan and Michael Busby being back.
While Allatoona made an impressive run to the Class AAAAA state semifinals last year, its season still had a bittersweet ending when the Buccaneers lost 3-2 to Union Grove after giving up a third-set lead in their deciding match.
That loss only makes Allatoona hungrier to surpass expectations.
Graduating Wes Hughes at No. 2 singles will sting, but the Buccaneers are still returning projected No. 1 singles player Andrew Weisser, who’s ranked in the top 100 in the Southeast. They will also return juniors Kenan Shaw and Justin Bumbie, who played No. 1 doubles last season.
“With the leadership of Andrew and our No. 1 doubles team, our goal is to make it to where we were last year, maybe even further,” Allatoona coach Monica Haney said.