GISA Prep Tennis: Dennis, Sterrey win state singles championships

By CHRIS GOLTERMANN cgoltermann@newnan.com If the first of this week’s two GISA state championship tennis events provided any sign toward success for The Heritage School’s boys and girls teams, it may be another banner year for the Hawks and Lady Hawks. Already heading into today’s Class AA Team Tennis Championships in Augusta both teams already have a state title in tow.
Lady Hawks junior Isabel Dennis and Hawks sophomore Joe Sterrey won respective singles titles during Monday’s Individual Class AA tournament at the John Drew Smith Tennis Center in Macon, with both standouts able to improve on last year’s state semifinal appearances. Dennis capped off a perfect season by dethroning Frederica two-time state champion Elizabeth Martin, 6-1, 6-0 in what longtime Heritage coach Gail Jones called “the best match I’ve ever seen in high school.” “She lost to (Martin) last year in the semifinals. But from the moment she got on the court, she just destroyed her,” said Jones of Dennis. “She’s been so strong this year. I think she really wanted to beat (Martin) after what happened last year.” Dennis, who lost just four games during her four tournament matches, was determined to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss to Martin after advancing to the finals Monday with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Emily Sullivan of Athens school Monsignor Donovan. “She’s always been a real good player. I was determined to prove that I could beat her. Last year was a tough match, but I didn’t have the confidence that I had this year,” said Dennis. “Early on, I could see she was getting kind of frustrated.” Dennis, who has been playing tennis since she was six, is hoping to play in college. After Monday’s match, some already felt she was ready. “A couple of coaches walked up to me and said she could probably play college right now,” said Jones. “Maybe not at number one (singles), but at another position.” Sterrey, meanwhile, got a big win in the semifinals over Frederica’s McClain Culver en route to the finals as the only player back from last year’s Class AA Final Four. After defeating Culver 6-2, 7-5, Sterrey said his conditioning paid off in a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Colby Gandy of Edmund Burke Academy in the finals. “I think it just came down to the heat,” said Sterrey, who trains four times a week while playing USTA events outside of high school. “I’ve tried to work on my conditioning and it was a pretty warm day. I’m always out trying to train in this type of weather.” Both players now hope to lead Heritage School to a team title today at the Class AA Team Tournament at the Newman Tennis Center in Augusta. The Hawks top doubles team of Alex Carter and Grayson Parker also competed on Monday, falling in the semifinals to eventual state champions Billy Grimsley and Adam Lowe of Southwest Georgia. The Hawks qualified three doubles teams for the individual tournament. Heritage opens the team tournament today at noon as one of the state’s four region champions. The Lady Hawks take on 3-AA champion Brookwood in the semifinals, while the boys play Southwest Georgia. The state finals are scheduled for 3 p.m.


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