If there’s any Denmark sports program that would be expected to excel in its first season, it’s the boys tennis team: After all, the Danes draw most of their enrollment from South Forsyth, the defending Class 7A boys state champion.
The already-intact enthusiasm and culture is apparent in the Danes’ participation numbers, as they had 33 players come out for tryouts and currently carry 27 between varsity and junior varsity. But they’re young, even by Denmark standards, with just two juniors on the varsity squad.
That’s been no problem, according to Danes head coach Phil Kinneer.
“They’ve shown such maturity and growth this season, it’s unbelievable,” Kinneer said. “They’re playing like they’re seniors.”
Kinneer said that on Friday, a day after the Danes took their biggest step yet, winning the Region 7-4A title on Thursday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex in Flowery Branch. It was the school’s third team region title of the year, after competition cheer and boys basketball.
The Danes were confident of their chances entering the tournament, as they had encouraging results against Marist and Blessed Trinity, two of the region’s top contenders, during the regular season, losing to the War Eagles 3-2 and beating the Titans 3-2. After Denmark rolled over Chestatee 4-0 on the first matchup of the tournament, they got another shot at Marist on Wednesday, and this time the Danes were 3-2 victors, with the outcome coming down to Snehil Chilkamari in the No. 3 singles spot.
Denmark got Blessed Trinity in the finals, and that match again went 3-2 in the Danes’ favor and came down to Chilkamari’s line, with the freshman winning in three sets.
“He just played his heart out,” Kinneer said of Chilkamari.
The Danes’ first round state matchup will be at home on April 17 against Heritage-Catoosa, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-7A. The school’s girls team, which reached the state tournament as a No. 4 seed, will play the day before, also at Heritage-Catoosa.
Kinneer isn’t going into the state playoffs with any cockiness, as he’s wary of the number of strong programs in Class 4A, like Woodward Academy, St. Pius X, North Oconee or one of the region teams that Denmark has already faced.
He’s also aware, however, that the Danes look to be set for a while, even if this particular run doesn’t result in a title.
“We’re going to be a very strong team for a couple more years,” Kinneer said. “I see us going real deep in Region 7-4A, and also when we move up.”