June 21, 2018

Brave Tennis Season off to a Strong Start

(Franklin, GA) — The 2018 Brave varsity tennis team has a new head coach, but it’s a familiar face in former standout Lady Brave player and 2010 HHS graduate Blake Alford.

Alford takes over the program after being an assistant last year to the departed Coach Rich Fendley.

The 2018 squad opened the season with a strong home effort versus Mount Zion Thursday.

With five seniors on the roster, the Lady Braves return some very talented singles players with a lot of experience. No. 1 Mellissa Collins, No. 2 Makayla Red, and No. 3 Laurel Roberts are all seniors and will anchor a team that Alford thinks can certainly win another Region 5-AA title and perhaps make a deep run at the state level.

Each of the singles won their matches handily over the Eagles with Collins winning 8-2, Red shutting out her opponent 8-0, and Roberts going over by a score of 8-3.

In ladies doubles matches, No. 2 newcomers Juliann Carpenter and Rickeyria Phillips won their match 8-4 while the No. 1 combo of seniors Macie Taylor and Katelyn Smith lost 8-1.

This trio of senior Lady Braves are expected to lead the 2018 Brave tennis team. (L-R): Makayla Red, Melissa Collins, and Laurel Roberts

Another experienced Lady Brave, senior Alexis Nelms will also be added to the fold this week following the conclusion of basketball season.

The Region 5-AA defending champion Lady Braves made the Sweet 16 in 2017 knocking off Pepperell in the opening round before falling to Dodge County in round two.

While the girls will be very experienced this season, the Braves boys team will be very young following the loss of  four seniors from last season’s Region 5-AA Championship team that was upended in round one of state by Pepperell.

No. 1 junior Garrett Callahan scored an 8-6 win over Mount Zion Thursday and will lead the boys’ singles players in 2018.

A doubles player last season, junior No. 2 Jordan Cornelius also started strong with an 8-6 win over the Eagles and No. 3 Thad Higgins won via forfeit.

The No. 1 doubles combo of Ryan Tatom and Duncan Googe shut out their opponents 8-0 and the No. 2 tandem of junior Ethan Hahn and sophomore Dave Dunn won easily 8-1.

Alford played tennis at the collegiate level at Lagrange College and is looking forward to building on the Brave tennis program in her own way.

“It was really good to work with Coach Fendley last year and he was always open to my opinions, but it is nice this year to be able to things the way I want,” says Alford. “We’ve made a few changes and the players have been really receptive to it. They don’t like the conditioning program as much but they know I am just doing that to make them better players.”

Alford says new assistant coach Lindsey Stewart has been a great help in her transition to head coach.

“Coach Stewart played in high school and has been an asset by being willing to help by hitting with whoever and helping in any other way that we need,” adds Coach Alford.

The Braves will be back in action at HHS this Thursday when they host Troup County.

The remainder of the 2018 home matches will be versus Callaway (3/6-Region), Spencer (3/7-Region), Bowdon (3/14), and Central (3/19-Senior Night).

Road matches will include Temple (2/27-Region), Mount Zion (3/1), Lamar Co. (3/20-Region), Bowdon (3/22), and Newnan (3/29).

The Braves will also compete in the Granger Invitational March 9-10 and host the Region 5-AA Tournament on April 10.

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