Colquitt County boys tennis coach Grant Hammack has very little information on the Newnan team his Packers will face at 3 p.m. today at Packer Park in a first-round Class AAAAA state match.
But he feels confident the Cougars will be better than the team the Packers faced in the first round last year.
Colquitt eliminated Johnson High of Savannah in the first round last year in a match that went just over an hour. Colquitt lost only three games in the process.
Not only is Hammack expecting a stiffer challenge from the Cougars, the No. 3 team from Region 2, he also is unsure how his team will rebound from losing 2-3 to Lowndes in the finals of the Region 1-AAAAA tournament last Thursday.
“That will make itself evident (today),” Hammack said.
Colquitt, ranked No. 8 in Class AAAAA, will take an 18-2 record into the state tournament, but in addition to losing the region championship after winning their first nine region matches, the Packers also are having to face the toughest part of its schedule with a new player in its doubles lineup.
After senior Ricky Patel injured his knee two days before the region tournament, the Packers turned to freshman Cody Jenkins to team with Nick Nichols at No. 1 doubles.
Hammack said he preferred to keep his No. 2 doubles team of Coby King and Nick Mobley intact. King and Mobley have a 15-2 record this season.
Nichols and Patel had been 14-4. Nichols and Jenkins dropped both of their matches in the region tournament.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” Hammack said. “But Cody’s an athlete. He’s got all the tools.
“He just needs to deal with the pressure.”
The team has several veteran players in Andrew Harvin, Bo Blalock, David Forehand, King and others and is counting on that experience to pay off.
“We’ve just got to pick it up and go,” Hammack said.
Harvin, the four-year starter at No. 1 singles, will take a 16-4 record into the match against the Cougars.
Blalock is 16-4 at No. 2 and Forehand, who has quietly built another outstanding record, is 19-1 at No. 3 singles.
If the Packers can get by Newnan, they will face the winner of the first-round match between Camden County and Kennesaw Mountain next week.
Colquitt has defeated both, winning over Kennesaw Mountain 5-0 in the Mountain Invitational on March 2 and knocking off Camden County 4-1 in Kingsland on April 13.
LADY PACK GOES ON ROAD TODAY
The Colquitt County girls will travel to Atlanta to play Westlake at 2 p.m. today in a first-round match. The Lady Packers are the No. 3 team from Region 1.
The Colquitt County-Westlake winner will play the Kennesaw Mountain-Bradwell Institute winner in the second round, which must be completed by May 2.
The 11-8 Lady Packers will have Erica Mobley at No. 1 singles; Conley Ward at No. 2 singles; and Catie Statom at No. 3 singles.
Rachel Funderburk and Hannah Radney will take an 11-5 record to Atlanta at No. 1 doubles. Aislin Sheffield and Ansley Moore are 16-2 at No. 2 doubles.