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Taylor Richards - Athlete Spotlight for Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

Posted: April 7, 2015 - 11:16pm
Photo by Jim Blaylock  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock

While there has been turnover at the top, the Lakeside girls tennis team hasn’t missed a beat this year and Taylor Richards is a big part of that.

Since Richards’ freshman season, the Lady Panthers – 12-1 overall and 9-0 in Region 2-AAAAA – have advanced to the state’s round of eight each year, winning the GHSA Class AAAAA title two years ago. After being the team’s No. 2 singles, Richards took over as No. 1 singles this season.

“Well, there’s definitely a lot more pressure,” said Richards. “The competition’s more tough. You wouldn’t think there’s much difference between 1 and 2, but everyone has a lot more experience at No. 1.”

That said, she’s been enjoying herself.

“I like competition, it’s pretty fun,” Richards said.

Coach Dave Pitock thinks she has been a solid No. 1 singles for the team and has been impressed with her array of shots. The biggest thing to him, however, is her demeanor on the court.

“She doesn’t get frustrated if she misses a shot,” Pitock said. “If she hits a great shot she’s pretty even and if she hits a bad shot she’s pretty even, she just goes to the next point, she doesn’t worry about it. That makes for a good tennis player, I think, because they don’t get upset or get frustrated, she just keeps plugging along.”

Whatever happens in this year’s post-season, it will be the end of her competitive career. Richards stopped playing outside tournaments this past fall and will just focus on studies when she heads to college this fall.

“I like tennis,” Richards said. “The fact that you can just play whenever you want with your friends and stuff. I just played so many tournaments. ... It kind of wears you out.”

While at the top of the high school game, Richards feels like she was at her best years ago.

“I think I peaked in the 12s,” she said. “That was like my prime year. That’s when I played a lot, I played a lot of tournaments and my ranking was the highest at that point.”

But it did come at a price.

“There’s a lot of traveling and I missed out hanging out with friends and stuff,” Richards said.

With her extra time Richards said she has just been enjoying her senior year and at this point has her sights set on Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Ga. with an eye to studying business.

“I really want to travel,” Richards said. “Probably something like the business side of the fashion industry.”

While she won’t play for the Lady Bobcats, Richards wants to keep her hand in the game.

“I do kind of want to play club tennis in college so I don’t lose that side of the sport – the competitive side,” she said. “It’s not as much pressure.”

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