Watching Aaron play got Kyle, then a 12-year-old, hooked to tennis, and he ended up fulfilling his own dream five years later by leading Whitefield’s 2012 squad to the Class A state championship and an undefeated 14-0-1 record.
Kyle Childree also helped Whitefield boast three straight undefeated regular seasons.
“He was the main reason I started playing,” Childree said of his brother.
Childree, the 2012 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Tennis Player of the Year, has drilled with ATI Tennis Academy at Marietta’s Fair Oaks Tennis Center ever since he started playing, and he’s seen his game skyrocket.
Under the watchful eye of ATI coach Danny Carlson, Childree developed an aggressive style with a huge first serve and forehand that enables him to win quick points. It also helped him to become a state champion at Whitefield, with an undefeated individual record.
In each of the last two seasons, the Wolfpack were denied the state title after spotless regular seasons, eliminated both times by Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. Those close calls served as motivation for Childree in his senior season of 2012.
“We been trying to get the state title and, finally, we got it this year,” said the Boston College signee. “We were more of a team this year and practicing more than we did past three years. We were a lot more urgent. We were not going to be denied this year. We may have been too passive the last two years, but we weren’t going to lose it this year.”
Instead of facing Wesleyan in this year’s quarterfinal, Childree and the Wolfpack instead ran into then-No. 3 Mount Pisgah Christian. The Wolfpack won 3-1, with Childree prevailing in his toughest match of the season — a 7-5, 1-6, 6-0 victory over Mount Pisgah’s Brian Krouskos.
In the match-clinching victory, Childree was in a first-set battle with Krouskos that lasted close to an hour-and-a-half. Childree broke his serve to go up 6-5 and held his own to win the set.
In the second set, Childree started playing conservative, which allowed Krouskos to start dictating play and win the
second set with relative ease. Childree, however, returned to his attacking ways in the third set and started winning the bulk of the points until Krouskos was suddenly hit with cramps.
“I tried to buckle down in the third, and it ended up going into my favor,” Childree said. “ I wanted to attack more and make him earn every point.”
Childree admitted to being nervous before stepping on the court in Whitefield’s state
championship match with Brookstone, but he settled down once he got on the court and prevailed 6-1, 6-3 over Kazuki Onoe. The only time when Childree may have felt nervous was when he led 6-1, 5-0 and allowed Onoe to rattle off three straight games.
But Childree got over the hump by winning three straight points against Onoe’s serve after trailing 30-15.