That tends to happen when a pair of brothers ranked in the top 50 nationally join the team.
Senior Daniel Yun played his sophomore season for the Trojans in 2012 before becoming ineligible the following year. The Georgia High School Association passed a rule prohibiting players from training during school hours, which had an effect on players who left early for afternoon drills.
Yun’s younger brother, Chris, is experiencing varsity tennis for the first time. Along with ranked junior Jonathan Jemison, it makes for a formidable singles corps in Lassiter’s lineup.
The threesome helped the Trojans beat defending Region 5AAAAAA champion Walton twice this season, even with the Raiders’ No. 1 singles player, Eric Wagasky, back on the team after missing last season due to the since-rescinded GHSA rule.
“Basically, we have three No. 1 singles players this season,” Lassiter coach Wylie Brown said.
Lassiter is expected to contend for a state championship when the Class AAAAAA state tournament begins this week. First-round matches involving teams from the top five classifications must be played by Thursday.
Class A schools are still deciding their area champions and have until April 29 to complete their first-round state matches.
The two east Cobb rivals are on opposite sides of the Class AAAAAA bracket. Lassiter will host Mill Creek, and Walton will host North Gwinnett to begin the state tournament.
While Walton won’t have to worry about facing Lassiter until the finals — set for May 10 at Clayton County International Park — the Raiders still have defending state champion Brookwood and Alpharetta in their portion of the draw.
Walton coach John Evans said losing to Lassiter twice was an eye-opener.
“It gave them a reality check,” he said, “knowing that we have to bring our ‘A’ game from here on out if we want to keep advancing.”
The Walton girls clinched their 11th straight region championship Wednesday with a 4-1 win over Etowah, and they’re in the driver’s seat to claim their 10th state championship in 11 years.
Newcomer Bella Kuse, cleared to play for Walton after becoming home-schooled last season, has strengthened the Lady Raiders’ singles lineup.
The North Cobb boys are gearing up for a return trip to the Class AAAAAA state finals with a slightly altered roster after winning the region tournament for the third straight year. The Warriors will host Newton in the first round.
The Kennesaw Mountain girls have won four straight region titles and are looking to go at least one step further after making the state semifinals in consecutive seasons. With an already strong singles lineup, and the addition of freshman Sophia Suri to strengthen the doubles, the Lady Mustangs have a shot.
“We will have to take it one step at a time because, if you look ahead, that is where people really mess up,” said Kennesaw Mountain coach Connie Bailey, whose team will face Luella in the first round.
The Hillgrove boys and girls teams both drew the No. 2 seeds out of Region 4AAAAAA, and they will each host Alcovy. The No. 3 Kennesaw Mountain boys are at Druid Hills, and the No. 3 Harrison girls are at Newton. The Harrison boys and North Cobb girls are No. 4 seeds and will travel to Rockdale County.
The Pope boys, who lost to Northview in the Region 7AAAAA finals, will host South Paulding.
Both Allatoona teams won their respective Region 5AAAAA tournaments. The boys will host Riverwood, and the girls will host Kell to begin the state playoffs.
The Lady Buccaneers are eager to play for another state championship after falling to St. Pius X in the 2012 finals. They have a solid singles lineup intact behind Evansville signee Kennedy Craig, Haley Proctor and Allison Whitley, but coach Joe Soley said one of his doubles teams will have to step up for the team to have success.
“I feel you always have to have a doubles team pull through with a win,” Soley said. “You don’t always count on Kennedy, even though she wins 90 percent of the time.”