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Tennis: Lambert girls look to finish title run this year
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Lamberts Kealee Heffner returns the ball against Alpharettas Kendall Rajataz in 2 singles competition on Wednesday at Sharon Springs Park.

 

Lambert’s girls tennis team has a clear goal for the season: win the only match it lost last year.

The Lady Longhorns, ranked No. 2 in the state most of the 2011 season, reeled off a perfect 22-0 record before falling to top-ranked Marist in the state championship.

With 7 of 12 members of that state runner-up team back this season, including 5 of 7 regular starters, Lambert appears primed to take another serious shot at winning it all.

“We want to [win] just that one more match,” senior co-captain Taylor Lefton said following the team’s victory against Alpharetta on Wednesday at Sharon Springs Park.

“We’ve gotten off to a good start.”

Said junior Karlee Bryde: “We worked really hard last year. It’s just made us work that much harder this year.”

Ranked No. 1 this year, the Lady Longhorns (7-0 overall, 2-0 Region 7B-AAAA) are still perfect at the midpoint of the regular season. Six of those matches have finished with dominant 5-0 victories.

Lambert’s lone, serious challenge came in a 3-2 victory Feb. 29 against Peachtree Ridge — the top team in Class AAAAA.

Lady Longhorns junior co-captain Morgan Adams didn’t try to pretend that the win against Peachtree Ridge was just another match.

“That was a big deal for us,” Adams said.

“We were all nervous because we’re No. 1 in 4A and it’s like ‘oh, the No. 1 5A team, this is going to be a good one.’ That was a good confidence booster for us.”

Said first-year coach Ashley Laury: “It was a lot of fun to have such a great competition out there on the courts. Even when the pressure was on, the girls were really focused on each match, each set, each game.”

Lambert faces two more tough tests next week.

The Lady Longhorns will meet No. 4 Marist for the first time since last year’s title match on Tuesday ahead of a Thursday matchup with the team that could be their toughest competition this season — No. 2 Johns Creek.

Both matches are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Sharon Springs Park.

“We’ve had a really good start,” Laury said, “but I think next week will be a really good measure of where we’re standing.”

Laury said she’s had an easy transition into the program this season. She described the Lady Longhorns as a veteran team made better by the close relationships between the players.

“They communicate well, they enjoy each other and they’re very supportive of each other,” the coach said.

“I came into a group of friends, and I think that continues to help them on the court.”